Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best five Arabic books to read

I favor Elias Muhanna's list the most in this list.  If I were to select my top five Arabic books, they would be:
1) Rasa'il Al-Jahiz (Epistles of Jahiz and some are translated).
2) Diwan of Mutanabbi (not the selection by Bernard Lewis and not his translation. There is one by Arberry, I think).
3) Mikha'il Nu`ayman's Sab`un (not translated yet).
4) Arabian Nights.
5) Luzumiyyat of Abu Al-`Ala' (there is a selection by Amin Rihani rendered into poetic English).

Hamad bin Jasim, speaking on behalf of Zionist potentates in the GCC

"Speaking on behalf of an Arab League delegation, Sheikh Hamad appeared to make a concession to Israel by explicitly raising the possibility of land swaps, although it has long been assumed that these would be part of any peace agreement. "This news is very positive," Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Army Radio on Tuesday."  And let me make this concession to the people of Qatar: let there be a republic in Qatar.

Western forces in the Gulf

"Here is a list of equipment currently deployed, according to research institutions, mostly at bases shared with host states."  But those are the unclassified figures. There are much more in the classified count, no doubt.

You want us to make peace with those criminals? never, ever.

"Israeli soldiers evicted several hundred Bedouins from a village in the occupied West Bank on Monday after the army declared the area a live-fire training zone. The residents of Wadi al-Maleh, a village mostly inhabited by shepherds in the arid area bordering Jordan, had almost all left their homes by an evening curfew and retreated to neighboring villages, Aref Daraghmeh, a local leader, told Reuters. The displacement coincided with several demolitions of Arab properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which come as the United States is trying to revive stalled peace. In January, villagers received a similar eviction order and left without resisting, only to return after 48 hours. Almost all of their 90 buildings, including shelters for their animals, were demolished in 2010, local rights groups said."

burning Muslims alive in Nigeria

From a reader: "Their home had paid a heavy price: as many as 200 civilians, maybe more, were killed during the military’s rampage, according to refugees, senior relief workers, civilian officials and human rights organizations." "Many dead, many dead," said Mohammed Muhammed, 40, a taxi driver from Baga. "People running into the flames, I saw that. If they didn't run into the flames, the army will shoot them." As flames enveloped the houses — "they used petroleum," he said of the soldiers — he fled into the surrounding desert scrub. "If you come out" from the flaming houses "they will shoot you," he said. "Please, sir, charge them in the international court!" he shouted." "Hundreds of residents fled into the bush, where they lived for days in harsh conditions, and are only now trickling back into the town. "The aged people, the people that couldn't run, most of those people were burned," said Antony Emmanuel, a fish buyer. "Small children, their parents left them, they were burned."

United States Secretary of State John Kerry: "Unfortunately, they are facing some tough violence in the northern part of the country, which we condemn, and we join with them in helping to fight against extremism. And we're appreciative for their support on any number of issues, from economic leadership to energy leadership, security."

"Buddhists' eugenics to reduce Muslim population - West will give Burma more aid now"

"Burma should place limits on the growth of Muslims by introducing a family planning programme in areas where sectarian clashes organised by Buddhists have killed hundreds, an official report has said." (thanks Amir)

so what is Sa`d Id-Din Ibrahim up to?

"Asad, the guy is not only insignificant and a non factor, but look at him these days and how is he pitifully ending his career: in the company of the deposed Yemeni tyrant, shaking those bloody hands in the kingdom of horrors no less (see pic).."
PS I am not making this up, do you know that neo-conservatives thought that Ibrahim would emerge as the leader of the new Egypt, just as they had assumed that Kanaan Makiya would emerge as the leader of a new Iraq. Ha ha and ha.

aerial sodomy?

A. sent me this:  "Asad check this out:
This is a photo of Basim Yusuf doing a tandom jump over Dubai. The Salafis claimed he was practising 'aerial sodomy'....I KID YOU NOT!

no names, please.."

PS I am informed that the pace is a parody.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Prince Al-Walid purchases t-shirts to wear under his clothes in the winter.

الوليد بن طلال
Obama hails the step as another move towards democracy by House of Saud.

Please help me welcome the most brilliant analyst of Middle East affairs EVER

Martin Kobler, the United Nations’ representative in Iraq, recently warned that the country “could head towards the unknown.”"  This really changes my own thinking about Iraq and Middle East issues.  I have been under the impression that Iraq is heading toward the known but this man really proves me wrong.  Thank you so much, Mr. Kobler for cobbling together such insights on the region.

From Swedish media

From Uffe in Stockholm:  "In a review from a concert with the swedish popband The Knife in Bremen, Germany, the swedish journalist Johanna Paulsson makes a racist observation in the most important swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) in Sundays issue. She notes that the palestinian-american performer Tarek Halaby, who opens the act, makes her think of a suicidebomber when he tries to boost the audience in to the right mood and among other things says: "Im alive and I am not afraid to die."

Why does she make that kind of an observation if it wasnt about her own prejudice?

That version of the review is only in the paperversion though so I cant give you a link. I have asked the paper why they let that kind of rubbish in but so far no response. Maybe they think its a non-topic. That Im just another guy who cries out racism for no reason. A lot of people in Sweden are getting tired about calling racist things for racism. And they blame left-wing media.

And from another media, Aftonbladet, swedens biggest newspaper (and leftleaning), they have noticed the decline of Al-Jazeera, the arabic version. They are noticing that less people watch it and that its because they see a political agenda.
In a second article they interview a swedish woman born in Syria. She is studying to become a journalist. She used to dream of working for Al-Jazeera, but no more. She even has a personal memory of factual distortion from Syria. Al-Jazeera were reporting about riots and demonstrations from Aleppo in january 2012. But she was there and saw nothing of the kind."

Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm

From a reader:  "did you notice that he speaks about himself in the 3rd person ?

PS The Syrian opposition site, Al-Haqiqah, unearthed a picture of Al-`Adhm with the ambassador of the Syrian regime in Washington, DC.

teaching journalism at Georgetown

From "Ibn Rushd":  ""What Tsarni is admitting is something true but politically incorrect to talk about: the increasing use of these phrases [i.e., "inshalla"] of religiosity are code inside the community for someone who is becoming hardcore. It doesn’t mean that they’re becoming violent or criminal, but it’s a red flag." 
this idiot teaches journalism at Georgetown !"

deeds of Syrian "revolutionaries": beheading

A reader indicated to me (regarding a post from yesterday about beheadings) that there was one report about beheading.

assassination attempt on Syria's prime minsiter

Had the prime minister been killed, I am certain that the professional liars and fabricators of the Free Syrian Army would have claimed that the prime minister had converted to their side hours before the assassination and that the regime was behind the car bomb.  They are so predictable but they still manage to fool Western correspondents either because they are dumb and ignorant or because they want to be fooled in consistence with US-Israeli policies.

heroic deeds of the Syrian armed groups

The other day, the Syrian rebels killed a mid-level clerk in the Syrian ministry of electric power (or whatever it is called in Syria). Today, they detonated a car bomb--a favored weapon of choice for the opposition--but missed the prime minister. But to their credit, they managed to kill a score of innocent people.  Had the operation succeeded, they would have claimed responsibility.

bringing democracy to Afgahnistan in suitcases, backpacks, and plastic bags

"For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan's president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency." "The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan," one American official said, "was the United States." "

civilizing the uncivilized

"More than any other colonial society, Australia consigns its dirtiest secrets, past and present, to wilful ignorance or indifference. When I was at school in Sydney, standard texts all but dismissed the most enduring human entity on earth, the indigenous first Australians. "It was quite useless to treat them fairly," the historian Stephen Roberts wrote, "since they were completely amoral and incapable of sincere and prolonged gratitude." His acclaimed colleague Russel Ward was succinct: "We are civilised today and they are not." " (thanks Amir)

embrace your misery: Mother Teresa

"By even her own words, Mother Teresa's view of suffering made no distinction between avoidable and unavoidable suffering, and instead cultivated passive acceptance of both. As she put it, "There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ's Passion. The world gains much from their suffering." "

A Massacre by Syrian rebels: not in the US press

"The results of the new game for oil have played out tragically in the village of al-Musareb, a village near Deir Ezzor, which experienced terror and destruction in an attack from Jabhat al-Nusra following a dispute over rights to oil that turned violent. The incident seems to be part of a larger conflict for power in the area between al-Nusra and local tribes. Information is scant on this situation; a Saudi source reported on it as well as a Reuters Arabic article based on a report from SOHR. In addition to these, we piece the story together based on video clips originating from pro-Nusra sources and articles on facebook pages (1, 2) belonging to a fighter group called Fawj Seif al-Rasul (“the Sword of the Prophet Regiment,” apparently made up of men from the village of al-Musareb) that was in conflict with al-Nusra. There are certainly more sides to this story yet to be told.
The story begins with this video in which men are fighting over a large truck full of oil. The truck is being fought over by men from the al-Saf tribe, and men from Jabhat al-Nusra. Supposedly, the truck was first stolen by thieves who later sold it to a man from the village of al-Musareb (who may or may not have known that it was stolen). Apparently, when the original owner learned that truck had wound up in the possession of an individual from al-Musareb, he appealed to al-Nusra to come to his aid. When the Nusra fighters arrived, however, they found themselves to be outnumbered by armed tribesmen."

The Islam of NATO

As is known, NATO intervention in Libya inaugurated a new era for Libya, and it led to the installation of a new Mufti in the country.  I have been following his pronouncements: he is in a word a Bin Ladenite.  His kooky pronouncements and language are indistinguishable from those of Al-Qa`idah although his foreign policy views are suppressed thus far. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flash. Apparently, the secular, liberal armed groups in Syria simply don't exist

I have been saying this all along and only today the New York Times admits it:  "Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.   “My sense is that there are no seculars,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy, of the Institute for the Study of War, who has made numerous trips to Syria in recent months to interview rebel commanders." 

last hour conversion

This is the same guy who has been calling for arming the rebels:  "Mr. Heydemann acknowledged, however, that the current momentum toward radicalism could be hard to reverse."

From the Kingdom of Horrors

"A Saudi woman has been sentenced to eight lashes by a court in Qatif for mistakenly sending a text message allegedly promoting the Shiite branch of Islam. The 30-year-old woman, identified only as YH, has been pronounced guilty for sending an SMS to another Saudi woman, containing a group of telephone numbers under the name 'Shiite Islamic religious services'." (thanks Basim)

WINEP orders bombing raids on Syria

""The most proportional response (to limited chemical weapons use) would be a strike on the units responsible, whether artillery or airfields," said Jeffrey White, a former senior official at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency and a Middle East expert who is now a defense fellow at the Washington Institute For Near East Policy [WINEP]. "It would demonstrate to Assad that there is a cost to using these weapons - the problem so far is that there's been no cost to the regime from their actions.""

Western mercenaries around the world

"The idea of a mercenary may seem a bit quaint in the 21st century, but those forces make a difference and are often all that stands between a leader and his fate."

"They were very good at teaching us to set booby traps."

"In 1991, the government of John Major admitted to parliament that the SAS had indeed trained the "coalition". "We liked the British," a Khmer Rouge fighter later told me. "They were very good at teaching us to set booby traps. Unsuspecting people, like children in paddy fields, were the main victims." "

BBC cancels Jerusalem documentary

From a reader:  ""A BBC documentary set to air last night has been mysteriously pulled from the broadcaster's line-up and has so far failed to appear on its online iPlayer service." "The Jerusalem programme was noted by the Guardian's Martin Skegg as, "likely [to] ruffle some feathers" as it deals with the sensitive subject of Jewish exile from Jerusalem in 70AD."

"The American poet T.S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruelest month." The phrase springs to mind in April 2013, the month that a new director-general took up his post at the BBC and, within two weeks, had installed a line-up of hardline Zionists at the top of the world's largest publicly-funded news organization."

The Surveillance-State

"The dominant, resounding cry in media and politics seems to be clamoring for more cameras, but last week, the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney argued that more cameras could mean less control and safety, not more. "Give the government eyes on every street corner, and you mostly aid the ability of law enforcement to track us without public cooperation, warrants or legal paperwork," he wrote. "You're never going to know where all our cameras are," the mayor said at today's press conference." (thanks Amir)

beheadings in Syria

When Al-Qa`idah in Iraq engaged in beheadings, Western media feigned outrage and shock (they prefer murder by aerial incineration).  But beheadings are now common place among the rebel groups in Syria; Arabs circulated pictures of heads being barbecued last week and yet there is no reference to this phenomenon in Western media. 

Sudden increase in chemical weapons' use in Syria

Ever since the Obama administration's announcement about use of chemical weapons in Syria (and with "varying degrees of confidence" from the US intelligence community), rebels and their commanders now report evidence of use of chemical weapons every hour on the clock. I am not making this up.  Follow their pronouncements. 

The rebel leader who defected last July

Now that is a man who is motivated by democratic impulses, I am sure.  He did not notice the nature of the regime that he obediently served until last July:  "The general defected last July..."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Al-Mayadin TV

For those who don't care: My interview today with Al-Mayadin.  (thanks Kojiro)

So what does Israel want now?

So basically Israel now wants the US to bomb both Iran and Syria, and it wants fries with that.  OK.

When Israel and its propagandists in the West claim that Israel is calm, you know that it is sweating

Such an obvious and fake attempt at dissimulation and concealment.  "This theme of reduced external threats was explained by Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, head of research and analysis for Israeli military intelligence. He told the conference that the balance had shifted toward Israel in several ways: a “decreased conventional threat” because the Syrian army is preoccupied by civil war; a “weakening of the radical axis” as Hamas loses its base in Syria and Sunnis and Shiites fight each other; and the stability of Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.  The Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt worries Israelis somewhat, but as Brun observed, “the regime [in Egypt] has decided to be pragmatic.” Syrian chemical weapons are a concern, too, but Israel has plans to contain them if the regime is toppled."

Obama being emotioanl about Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons

Here, Obama is being emotional while discussing Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. It is known that Obama deeply loves the Syrian people.  It is no secret.  As for the clown to the left, he is too insignificant to comment on.

Saudi minister of Justice

This week, the Saudi Minister of Justice stated that there shall be no role for any houses of worship of any non-Muslim religion in Saudi Arabia.   There were no reports about that in the Western press, naturlich.

Who introduced chemical warfare to the Middle East

"It should also be recalled that it was the British who introduced chemical warfare to the Middle East, dropping mustard gas bombs on Iraqi tribes that resisted British colonial rule. Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war and air, declared at the time: "I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes…[to] spread a lively terror." "

Origins of the samples coming out of Syria cannot be guaranteed

"The problem is, if there is sarin in a sample, where did it come from? Charles Blair of the Federation of American Scientists points out that it would be in the interests of rebel forces to involve the US in their fight against Assad – and the origins of the samples coming out of Syria cannot be guaranteed. Some believe a sarin-tainted sample would be hard to fake. For one thing, the US believes Assad controls all of Syria's CW munitions. But that may not be the only source. When the US had chemical weapons, the army, until 1969, gave out small vials of agents, including sarin, to teach soldiers to recognise their smell – and they were widely distributed. Similar vials used to train Syrian soldiers might have tempted beleaguered rebels."

Most important development in Middle East Studies

I would argue that finding this branch of a great Turkish bakwlava store in New York City is the most important development in my Middle East studies since the publication of Hanna Batatu's The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq. 

another lie by Obama

""President Barack Obama on Wednesday called the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in 1915 "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century," but again broke a 2008 campaign promise to label the tragedy a "genocide." Doing so would have angered NATO ally Turkey." "The chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Aram Hamparian, denounced Obama's statement, accusing the president of bowing to Turkey's "gag rule" on the issue. "Our President's complicity in Turkey's denial of truth and its ongoing obstruction of justice will not derail our progress toward a truthful, fair, and comprehensive international resolution of Turkey's still unpunished crime against the Armenian nation," Hamparian said in a statement.""

Mayadin TV

I will be on al-Mayadeen TV shortly.

Probably by the Syrian regime

"of the use of chemical weapons, probably by the regime.”"

The 1915 Armenian Genocide

"What do you call the 1915 "mass deportation" of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) that resulted in the death of 1.5 million people? Most historians and Armenians around the world call it genocide. The Turkish government and the United States are not among those who will officially accept the word "genocide" when speaking of the decimation of the Armenian people in the early part of the 20th Century. (And that list also includes U.S. Presidents.)" (thanks Amir)

"dangerous adversary"

"Assad is a bitter enemy, an ally of Iran and a major backer of Lebanese Hezbollah guerilla attacks against Israel. But like his father whom he succeeded as president, he has faithfully observed U.S.-brokered accords that ended the 1973 war. Israel worries that whoever comes out on top in the civil war will be a much more dangerous adversary." (thanks Basim)

Zionist colonization

""The documents, which have a remarkable contemporary resonance, reveal how British officials looked on as Jewish settlers took over more and more Arab land."" (thanks Yusuf)

This is an actual headline in the Times from yesterday: "Israel Shoots Down Drone Possibly Sent by Hezbollah"

And the article says this: "noting that Israel’s military aircraft frequently violated Lebanese airspace".  Frequently? How about daily?

Correction in the New York Times: about Bashshar Al-Asad and whether he ever labeled his enemies as "Sunni extremists" as Anne Barnard and other correspondents keep claiming

I notice that the New York Times can't simply admits that it is wrong, when it is wrong. The corrections are acts of defensiveness and attempts are bending the truth to basically deny that they were wrong.  Look at this one:  "An article on April 6 about Unicef’s warning that the United Nations will soon have to start cutting off lifesaving aid to people fleeing the civil war in Syria because the exodus has far outstripped support from international donors referred imprecisely to groups that the government of President Bashar al-Assad says it is fighting. A prominent adviser to Mr. Assad accused a well-known Sunni Muslim cleric in Qatar of inciting Sunnis in Latakia, Syria, to revolt in March 2011. In addition to foreigners and Al Qaeda,  Mr. Assad and other government officials say Syria is battling members of extremist sectarian ideologies including Wahabism and takfirism. They have not publicly cited Sunni extremists as the enemy."  So the Times could not find evidence of its constant refrain (which it receives from Syrian exile groups) that Bashshar labels his enemies as "Sunni extremists" which exacerbates sectarian tensions.  Of course, Bashshar never labels his enemies as such (this is without denying the obvious, that his regime is sectarianly based, although less than the times of his father but that is a whole different matter).  So here in the correction they strive to prove that they were actually not really wrong so they maintain that the criticism of one cleric and criticisms of Al-Qa`idah are evidence of sectarian anti-Sunnism.  Even critiques of Wahhabiyyah and takfirism (not by Bashshar, mind you, but by an adviser because they found one statement by Buthayna Sha`ban in which she was critical of Wahhabi groups) are seen in this act of defensiveness as evidence of Bashshar's anti-Sunni sectarianism.  So you read the correction and then wonder: what is the correction for when the New York Times is never really wrong, and not even in this case?

Sadiq Jalal Al-`Adhm

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar:  "Sadiq Jalal-`Adhm: Critique of Sectarian Thought After the Defeat"

PS In this article, I tell the story about the feud between Edward Said and Sadiq Jalal Al-`Adhm.  What I did not tell is that Said once called me and said: "your friend Al-`Adhm is licking the asses of Zionists here in New York."  (He spoke it in colloquial Arabic).  Of course, Zionists at Princeton invited Al-`Adhm purely to irk Said especially that the only academic writing by Al-`Adhm was on Kant in 1970.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Look how the reports of defeats of Syrian armed groups are always quallified in the Western press

"“Maybe there is some retreat” by the rebels, he said, “but not full withdrawal.”"  This is like Arab regimes in 1967: they did not withdraw, but only retreated.

Timing of the chemical attack discovery

I was talking to comrade Saleh, and he made a good point: that the sudden announcement of the discovery of chemical weapons evidence in Syria took place in the same week where Syrian armed groups were suffering losses on several losses.

no way

Venezuela has detained an American citizen it says was financing opposition student demonstrations after this month's disputed presidential election, the latest in a flurry of accusations over last week's post-vote violence.  Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said Timothy Hallet Tracy had been seeking to destabilize the country on behalf of an unnamed U.S. intelligence agency after President Nicolas Maduro's narrow presidential victory.  "We detected the presence of an American who began developing close relations with these (students)," said Rodriguez in a press conference. "His actions clearly show training as an intelligence agent, there can be no doubt about it. He knows how to work in clandestine operations." (thanks Marc)

dialogue in Yemen

From David: "I don't know if you came across this editorial in Al-Majalla regarding the National Dialogue in Yemen, but here goes:

"For many Yemenis, the fact that such a disparate group of their countrymen, and countrywomen, are in the same room, discussing, and disagreeing, is reason enough to be positive". Now, I'm not sure what this journalist had in mind when he wrote that this was in any way "positive" for Yemenis, but it does not seem to be a walk in the park, what with major figures like Ali Salim al-Beidh boycotting the National Dialogue. Also, the meeting of leaders seems to be amusing to the reporter: "... on the opening day the motley crew present—ranging from independent youth activists to tribal sheikhs to southern separatists, and everyone in between—gathered in Sana’a’s Movenpick Hotel to listen to Yemen’s president, Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, deliver his opening speech." He is then impressed by the dignity of the Al-Akhdam representative (whom he does not mention by name): "A particularly memorable address was that of the sole representative of the Muhamasheen, more commonly known as Akhdam, Yemen’s lowest social class, akin to the untouchables of India. When told his allotted time was up, he replied: “Let me finish my words. I’ve not spoken for 1,300 years,” referring to the historical marginalization of his people".

The clincher, of course, is that there is absolutely no mention of the GCC (and Saudi Arabia, in particular) or the US (which is busy deploying drones in the region) due to the fact that this magazine is associated with the reactionary mouthpiece of Prince Salman, Asharq Al-Awsat.

You can publish this on your blog if you like."

From Democracy Now to the New York Times

Here is the danger about the Western discussion of Syria: unlike the climate of 2002 and 2003, there is a solid iron consensus setting in among all Western media, from the New York Times to Democracy Now.  Democracy Now has been hosting March 14 pro-Saudi figures to speak about Syria in the last two years. Kid you not.  This tells you why dissenting to Western AND Arab government policies is essential these days.

the court of public opinion

"We do not yet have that hard information which allows us to make a categorical statement that would be unchallengeable in the court of international public opinion".

Not in the New York Times

"Army Command Guidance Directorate issued the following communiqué:" On Thursday 25/4/2013 at 10:15 a.m., eight Israeli war planes violated Lebanese air-space from above Kfarkilla village, executed circular flight over various Lebanese regions; and then left at 12:10 p.m. from above Nakoura village. And at 12:00 noon, three Israeli drones violated Lebanese air-space and executed circular flight over Shouf, South, Western Bekaa, Riyak, Baalbeck and Hermel regions; and then left at 1:35 p.m. towards the occupied territories." "

How the West can win

"The wartime report drawn up for British intelligence officials said Arab nationalism had a "double nature … a rational constructive movement receptive of western influence and help [and] an emotional movement of revolt against the west". It concluded: "The conflict between these two tendencies will be decided in the present generation. The first aim of the policy of the western powers must be to prevent the triumph of the second tendency." "

Phoenix Program

"In Vietnam, what became known as the Phoenix Program began in 1965 as a CIA-led operation. The purpose was to neutralize the National Liberation Front, the political arm of the Viet Cong, and was directed against civilian suspects not soldiers." "Phoenix operatives were a mix of CIA, U.S. and Australian Special Forces and South Vietnamese personnel and mercenaries. Until it ended in 1972, Phoenix "neutralized" some 80,000 NLF and Viet Cong of which about 30,000 were killed. In many cases, assassination was too kind a term and torture and barbaric interrogation practices were part of the standard operating procedure." (thanks Amir)

he used the word Asabiyyah

Some Zionists and other Western writers (are there Western writers who are not Zionists? rarely) compensate for their lack of knowledge and training in Middle East studies by throwing the word `Asabiyyah.  But this guy even tries harder:  "Shia and Sunnis in northern Lebanon cross the border into Syria and kill each other..." Shi`its in North Lebanon?  Crossing into Syria?  (thanks Michele)

The Stuttgart Conference

I am speaking about Palestinian resistance at this Stuttgart conference.  Comrades Joseph Massad and Samah Idris are also speaking.

If you know what the Shi`ites of Lebanon are thinking just ask an...Israeli

"Jonathan Spyer, senior research fellow at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center near Tel Aviv, said Hezbollah was facing discontent among its Shiite base in Lebanon." He added that Lebanese Shi`ites consider Antoine Lahd as their leader. (thanks Basim)

lousy Iranian regime

Do you know that the lousy Iranian regime does not allow unions?

Israel complains of black babies

"It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament."

Zionsim is always racism

Racism in Tel Aviv: 'Death to Arabs' on apartment door:

  Unknown assailants break into apartment inhabited by Arab youngsters, spray-paint 'death Arabs' and 'go away'."

US intervention Imminent?

" It appears that the 5th Fleet only has CVN-69 Eisenhower in the vicinity of Bahrain, as well as one big deck amphibious ship, the Kearsarge keeping an eye on the Straits of Hormuz. Assuming both ships are tasked to supervise any missions involving Syria that would leave Iran and the Straits of Hormuz unguarded, which is why we doubt this would happen. In fact, it is more likely that CVN 75 and 77, which are currently under way in the Atlantic, will be redirected to the east Mediterranean to provide the necessary air cover should operation "Liberating the Syrian Al-Qaeda funded Rebellion" be a go.

Perhaps as interesting is the positioning of LHA 5 and LHD 6 in the East China Sea, just off the China/Japan disputed island chain, where things are just as sensitive as they are in the middle east and where neither side is willing to back down."

PS I dont know anything about this site and whethere it is kooky or reliable.

lousy reporting on Syria in the Economist

The Economist is indistinguishable in its reporting on Syria from the most lousy Western media.  Look at this:  "Opposition sources reckon that a weeklong government offensive in the suburbs south-west of Damascus in mid-April may have left 250 dead, nearly all civilians."  Economist like Western media report whatever they receive from the exile opposition (just as they had done previously with the claims by Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi--yes, we remember).  Exile opposition never ever admits that among their dead are fighters. All their dead are always civilians.  For some reason, the bombs and bullets of the regime forces never ever kill Syrian opposition fighters. It only hit civilians. And the Economist dutifully parrot that line.  And how did the correspondent know that "nearly all" of the dead are civilians? Has the correspondent examined the bodies one by one?

`Ali Farzat

Regarding this former close friend of Bashshar (who, like David Lesch of Trinity University in Texas, only discovered that Bashshar is a tyrant when he stopped returning his calls and emails): I have posted about his brilliance as a cartoonist (although he has failed to produce one good drawing in this Syrian conflict) but I wish that I did not get to see the other side of his personality which was only revealed during this Syrian conflict: that he is vulgar, crude, sectarian, low, sophomoric, and quite despicable. 

What about `Alawite and Shi`ite Syrian refugees?

From the NGO source:
"Very rarely Alawite and Shia refugees come forward for assistance for fear of their fellow Syrians. A syrian family arrived at a distribution site in akkar and was expelled by other refugees accusing them of being alawites. We don't even know if they were in fact alawites. A Lebanese Sunni sheikh in bab el tebbeneh (well known in his community, dont mention his name, sheikh...) is one community leader liaising between refugees and Humanitarian agencies because of his wide outreach among refugees (he informs them for example of distribution dates and locations). He openly says: alawites are not considered to be refugees and hence are not entitled for assistance. He said this to a journalist I accompanied to Tripoli."

What is happening in Za`tari camp in Jordan

A seasoned NGO type (comrade) sent me this although she does not want me to identify her by name:
"I dont know what you mean by repression in Zaatari camp but the situation there is much more complex than that: 1) there is growing frustration among Jordanian clans especially in Al Mafraq city where the camp is with the high number of syrian refugees in Jordan for two main reasons: the already poor population of Al Mafraq is accusing syrians of receiving more assistance than Jordanians themselves and a couple of police officers (gendarmerie) in charge of "security" in the camp were killed during the last protests. At least twice, angry Jordanian men from Al Mafraq tried to enter the camp to take revenge against a Syrian living in the camp whom they accuse of killing a Jordanian family member. 2) there is growing mistrust among the refugees themselves of the presence of "shabbiha" in the camp. In fact they blame those "shabbiha" for the fires that erupted in some tents. 3) the camp is poorly managed: the local NGO that the government entrusted for managing the camp has now been sidelined for poor management and corruption and now the police is in charge. There are now shops in the camp in fact a market where everything is sold from chicken and meat to perfume and SIM cards. These shops opened spontaneously but in fact to open a shop a refugee would pay money (1000 JD) to a certain gang of Syrians and Jordanians. Prices in the camp are higher than outside for poor quality goods that are smuggled to the camp. Hard to imagine how the police guarding the camp is not getting a share. Everything is smuggled into and outside the camp including people. 3) there is a group of syrian refugee men in the camp taking advantage of the chaos, they steal electricity from UN agencies operating in the camp and offer electricity to other Syrian refugees for money. They buy the relief items and aid distributed at the camp and offer needed cash in return. Then they sell these items outside the camp in the Jordanian market at cheaper and competitive prices upsetting local businesses. Humanitarian staff in the camp have seen caravans, mattresses, tents smuggled outside the camp. You can now see UNHCR tents erected as far as the road to the Dead Sea. A syrian woman who was among the first to arrive to the camp told me that the market that refugees established created the need for cash and that at the beginning she never felt the need for money because there was nothing to buy in the first place so everyone was equal but now they have created a small economy and there are now rich people and poor people in the camp. One of the shops makes over USD 300 a day selling chicken. She says if she were in charge she would close down the market and deport this gang of corrupt syrian refugees making a lot of money. There is now talk of organized crime in Zaatari for all sorts of illegal acts including human trafficking. 4) over 100,000 Syrians now live in Zaatari it is a city but a lawless city. There are fights everyday in the camp for a variety of reasons sometimes between refugees themselves, between refugees and relief workers, and between refugees and the police, often instigated by troublemakers for no reason at all and they all end in the police storming the camp and using tear gas to dissipate the crowd, and injuries among refugees the police and the staff. Bottom line is Jordan has failed in managing this crisis. Zaatari is a time bomb that can explode anytime."

Ahmad Mu`adh Al-Khatib

So here is how credible this man--who spent years railing against Facebook and masturbation--is: he urgently calls on Hizbullah to remove its forces from Syria while he resigned from the leadership of the Syrian coalition because NATO refused his please to intervene in Syria. OK.

The innocent Israeli urging for war in Syria

What is notable this week is that Israeli leaders seem to have agreed that war on Syria would be good for Israel.  This explains the statement by that Israeli official who claimed that chemical weapons were used, and he based his fatwa on pictures of Syrian foaming at the mouth.  And now Israeli leaders are doing what they did back in 2002: merely edging the US to go to war.  This is not to deprive the US imperial power of agency, of course.  The US is responsible for its own wars and invasions and occupation, Israeli cheerleading notwithstanding.

How to invite the US to invade your country: few easy steps

Well, this is not really a guide to "how to invite the US to invade your country" as it is a guide to How the US manages to give you the method in which you may invite the US to invade your country.  The US sets a threshold beyond which the situation can't be tolerable: you speak of "red lines" and of "game changer" and you allow those who are eager to invite you to invade because they want you to install them into power to present you "evidence"--real or manufactured--to facilitate the invasion.  We told the world that Iraqi WMDs are the pretext, and Ahmad Chalabi (Iranian regime's man in Iraq these days) produced "curveball" who dutifully had visions of mobile labs and of various WMDs in the country.  For Syria, Obama said that chemical weapon use would be the pretext for war.  Now the notion that the armed Syrian opposition would produce evidence is never considered by US media, especially that the Times of London among other media AND governments (like Israel) speak about evidence based upon pictures or videos posted by the opposition on the internet.  As to why the Syrian regime, which has a ton of arsenal of conventional weapons to kill would need to resort to chemical weapon use "for limited use--mind you", can't be logically explained and maybe one of those things that St. Augustine would defer to divine wisdom to explain.  This is like last week, Syrian opposition claimed that Syrian regime dropped chemical weapons on a neighborhood in Aleppo and killed three people--KID YOU NOT.  Would not conventional weapon in this case be more effective?  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Atheism is on the rise in the Arab world, according to the enemy of Facebook and Masturbation

According to Ahmad Mu`adh Al-Khatib, a "sweeping wave of atheism is invading whole generations" of Arabs presumably due to the policies of Hizbullah and Shi`ites in general

"handling of the Korans"

"The spark for the protest is disputed. Detainees, through their lawyers, say that when guards conducted a search of their cells on Feb. 6, they handled their Korans in a disrespectful way. Prison officials dispute that."

Chemical weapons in Syria: a few observations on what has transpired thus far

1) So the US has been denying having any evidence but suddenly an evidence was found only a day after an Israeli official asserted that chemical weapons were used in Syria and his evidence was pictures of people on the internet who were foaming on the mouth?
2) What is: “varying degrees of confidence,”? If one is confident, one is confident.  How can one be of varying degrees of confidence? If I am of varying degrees of confidence that I can run a marathon under five hours, it means that one day I believe that and another day I don't?  But if you are talking about an assertion that is of scientific nature, how can the confidence be of varying degrees? It can only mean that some intelligence agencies believe one thing and others believe another.
3) The White House is not even sure that it was used by the regime but does not even care to consider the possibility that the foes of the regime may have used it. Look at this sentence:  "“We do believe,” the letter said, “that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime.”"  Very likely? The US may be going to war on the basis of an assertion based on "very likely"? Have you not seen this ugly film before in the Bush administration? And is that why Obama was heaping praise on Bush today, because he is resorting to his methods of deception and falsification?
4) This sentence in the New York Times is not true:  "But that investigation has been hobbled because the United Nations inspectors have not been allowed into Syria."  What I have read is that the Syrian government agreed to allow the UN to investigate provided that the UN also investigates the other side.
5) So the assessment is not even complete?  "The United States is also conducting its own assessment, as are Israel and other countries."?
6)  Here Martin Indyk has Israel in mind when he says "the region":  "“But if they end up leaving the impression that the president is not willing to enforce his red line,” said Mr. Indyk, who is now at the Brookings Institution, “that will have consequences in the region."
7)  Lastly, all US media talk about the use of chemical weapons in a few instances and "on a small scale" and in a "limited fashion". How is that?  So the Syrian regime decided to use chemical weapons on two people instead of shooting them?  For what reason?  I mean, what is the purpose of using chemical weapons by the regime if it does not use them on a large scale? Unless the use is by the armed opposition, or unless the use is manufactured, yet again.

A game changer in Syria

Al-Arabiyya--the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law (we are talking serious news here)--is celebrating: two workers in Syria defect.  They work at a chemical factory, according to House of Saud. 

immoral equivalency

Regarding immoral equivalency: I take it back.  Early in the Syrian conflict, I would insist that there can be moral (or more accurately immoral) equivalency between the lousy Syrian regime and the lousy Syrian armed groups.  I now maintain that there is indeed full immoral equivalency between the two sides.

Chemicals? He used chemicals. Nuclear? He used nuclear. Potatos? He used potatos.

Thus spoke the Hamad bin Jasim: "Chemicals? He used chemicals, and there is evidence," Al Thani said, referring to Assad."

sectarianism in Syria

How New York Times correspondents reproduce uncritically and without question the claims of Syrian exile opposition. Look at this one:  "Opponents say the government itself has fueled sectarianism...now by using code words like “Wahhabis” and “Al Qaeda” to blame the Sunni Muslim majority for the violence."  Wait, wait, wait.  So if you use the word Wahhabi or even Al-Qa`idah you are engaged in sectarian hatred? How dumb is this?  US and Saudi Arabia talk about the dangers of Al-Qa`idah all the time and no one accuses either of anti-Sunni sectarianism.

Muslims in number

From Karim: "
Dear Asad,
it seems the original article and your reader are both wrong with their numbers:

No matter if you start with the total numbers from the article (100 out of 3mio.)
3.000.000 100%
300.000 10%
30.000 1%
3.000 0,1%
300 0,01%
100 0,0033%

or with the ones from your reader (1 out of 30.000)
30.000 100 %
3.000 10 %
300 1 %
30 0,1 %
3 0,01 %
1 0,0033 %

What matters: the numbers are so low that there is no logical relation compared to the big media output concerning muslims in general and terror threats in particular."

Syrian refugees in Jordan

Why are there no coverage in the Western press about growing protests and repression in Za`tari camp in Jordan? Answer: Tel Aviv.

why they "hate us"

"But it is nonetheless vital to understand why there are so many people who want to attack the US as opposed to, say, Peru, or South Africa, or Brazil, or Mexico, or Japan, or Portugal. It's vital for two separate reasons. First, some leading American opinion-makers love to delude themselves and mislead others into believing that the US is attacked despite the fact that it is peaceful, peace-loving, freedom-giving and innocent." "Second, it's crucial to understand this causation because it's often asked "what can we do to stop Terrorism?" The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the polices in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence."

Barry Obama's Doctrine

"My name is Farea Al-Muslimi. I am from Wessab, a remote mountain village in Yemen, about nine hours' drive from my country's capital, Sana'a. Most of the world has never heard of Wessab. But just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers. The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine. I am here today to talk about the human costs and consequences of targeted killing by the United States in Yemen."

Jill Abramson

The name of Jill Abramson of the Times has been removed from this listing of her name in association with WINEP.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon

"Unlike in Jordan and Turkey, there are no refu­gee camps in Lebanon. Instead, those displaced by the Syrian war are mostly living with locals or renting houses in nearly 1,000 communities across the country." "Local authorities said most refugees in Baalbek are Sunnis, though there are many Shiites and other minorities present, too, and nearly all either support the Syrian regime or say they have no opinion." "Abu Ibrahim, a Sunni man from Damascus who is resolute in his support of Assad, said those responsible for exacerbating sectarianism in his country could "go to hell." " (thanks Amir)

Qatar Emir on Israel

"We also talked about the serious changes that are affecting the Middle East, especially countries like Egypt, which we consider to be a very important country, and also important for peace with Israel." (thanks Sultan)

Angry Arab interviews Thomas Pierret on Syria

Thomas Pierret (of the University of Edinburgh) and I have disagreed on Syria, privately and publicly (on an academic email list) but I regard him as a knowledgeable expert on Syria with a command of Arabic, although he can be quite uncritical in his reading of claims by Syrian exile opposition--but that is his business.  I chose to post the answers of interviewees (this is part of a series) without editing or comment from me so as not to be unfair to the answers.  I may interview myself at the end of the series and respond to many points that appeared in the interviews.    My questions precedes his answers in bold:

"1) You and I have disagreed on Syria, do you think that Syria experts have been wrong in the last years especially with the regular and constant predictions of the imminent fall of the regime?

The generalisation is problematic. Such predictions were rather made by journalists, who have the good excuse of not being Syria experts, and Western officials, who often did so for a bad reason, i.e. in order to justify their inaction: if Asad is about to fall, then there is no need to do anything to stop him.

"Experts" did not collectively agree upon the imminent fall of the regime. In early April 2011, I published an op-ed in the French newspaper Le Monde. The last sentence said this: "Nothing guarantees the success of the Syrian revolution, and if it happens at all, it will certainly be long, and painful" . I was not the only one to think that way. I clearly remember a conversation I had at the same time with Steven Heydemann, who was even more pessimistic than I was: he predicted that the regime would use its full military might against the opposition, and that none would act to stop it.

I must admit that later developments made me over-optimistic at times, but overall, I do not think I have seriously under-estimated the solidity of the regime.

2) What accounts for the resilience of the admittedly repressive regime? Has it been difficult for the supporters of the opposition to acknowledge this resilience?

I do not speak in the name of the "supporters of the opposition". As far as I am concerned, it has not been difficult for me to acknowledge something I had anticipated from day one.

The only independent variable you need to understand the resilience of the Syrian regime is the kin-based and sectarian (Alawite) nature of its military. All other purported factors are in fact dependent variables.

The kin-based/sectarian nature of the military is what allows the regime to be not merely "repressive", but to be able to wage a full-fledged war against its own population. Not against a neighboring state, an occupied people or a separatist minority, but against the majority of the population, including the inhabitants of the metropolitan area (i.e. Damascus and its suburbs). There are very few of such cases in modern history. Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi are the closest examples in the region, but the West proved much less tolerant with them.

The regime's resilience is in no way a reflection of its legitimacy: on the contrary, the legitimacy of this regime is inversely proportional to the level of violence it needs to use to ensure its survival; in other words, this is a highly illegitimate regime in the eyes of most Syrians.

Kinship has been key to securing the loyalty of the upper echelons of the military in order to avoid the fate of Ben Ali and Mubarak. The latter did not have the chance to have a large number of relatives among the top military/security hierarchy, contrary to Bashar al-Asad, whose own brother Maher is the actual no. 1 in the military (other relatives in top military/security positions include Hafez Makhluf, Dhu al-Himma Shalish, Atef Najib and Asef Shawkat, among many others). In such a situation, generals cannot seriously think about sacrificing the president in order to save the system: contrary to their Egyptian or Tunisian counterparts, they are not in a position to claim that they are in fact good guys who have nothing to do with the awful incumbent dictator. They stay with Asad, or they fall with him. Beyond kin ties, the loyalty of the military hierarchy has been secured through sectarianism, since it is likely that a majority of the officers belong to the Alawite community.

Sectarianism is a powerful instrument to make sure that you can use the army's full military might against the population. No military that is reasonably representative of the population could do what the Syrian army did over the last two years, i.e. destroying most of the country's major cities, including large parts of the capital. You need a sectarian or ethnic divide that separates the core of the military from the target population. Algeria went through a nasty civil war in the 1990s, and Algerian generals are ruthless people, but I do not think that the Algerian military ever used heavy artillery against one of the country's large cities. The fact that the best units in the Syrian military are largely manned with Alawite soldiers (in addition to members of some loyal Bedouin clans) has been key to explaining the level of violence we have seen over the last two years. Of course, the majority of Syrian soldiers are Sunnis, but it is striking that Asad did only use a minority of the army's available units: according to some observers, only one third of the army was entrusted with combat missions since the start uprising. Seen from that angle, the purported "cohesion" of the Syrian army becomes much less puzzling: the risk of defections significantly decreases when two-third of the soldiers are in fact locked up in their barracks, or at least kept away from the battlefield.

Once the military hierachy is loyal, and once you can use a significant proportion of the army to unleash unlimited violence upon the population, the rest follows. The regime keeps control of major population centers thanks to its much superior firepower and ability to use it, thus it keeps the families of many of its soldiers as de facto hostages. For instance, a friend of mine just defected from the army after his family (which had moved from one of Damascus' suburbs to downtown in order to escape the regime's air raids) eventually managed to leave for Egypt.

The regime's military force also keeps much of the businessmen and middle-class loyal because although they often hate the regime, they know that changing it means civil war, and they do not have enough to loose to take that risk. And actually, even when businessmen cease to actively support the regime (an enormous proportion of them have moved with their assets to Turkey and Egypt over the last year), the regime is still standing, because it still controls the military. Then you have the diplomats who also remain loyal, often because they know that the regime is firmly in control of Damascus, which means that it can kill their relatives and burn their house if they defect. On the contrary, massive defections of Libyan diplomats occurred in 2011 because they had calculated that the regime would fall quickly, not because they had become liberal democrats overnight. It is all about calculation, not about some belief in the legitimacy of the regime.

Support from religious minorities has also been frequently mentioned as a cause for the resilience of the regime. But except for the very peculiar case of the Alawites, minorities do in fact weigh very little in the balance: even if all Christians were supporting Asad (which of course is not the case, neither for Christians nor for any other sect), we would still be speaking of a mere 5% of the population with very little influence over the state and the military. Other religious minorities are much, much smaller, they do not make a difference.

In fact, many of the factors that have been frequently invoked to account for the resilience of the Syrian regime where also present in Mubarak's Egypt: crony businessmen and a wealthy middle-class that has benefitted from economic liberalization (in fact much more so in Egypt than in Syria); a non-Muslim population that is anxious at the possible rise of the Islamists after the revolution; a sizeable bureaucracy and a hegemonic party with considerable patronage capacities (in 2011 Mubarak's NDP was probably stronger than the long-neglected Ba'th party). Yet, none of these factors had any positive impact upon the resilience of Mubarak, which means that the cause for Asad's resilience should be looked for elsewhere: it is the kin-based/sectarian character of the military.

Then you have external, i.e. Iranian and Russian, support. It has been important, but it only came because the Syrian regime first demonstrated that it was solid enough to be worth spending a few billion dollars on financial and military aid.

There is one last factor that has been commonly evoked among the left in the Arab world and the west, i.e. Asad's purported "nationalist legitimacy". My aim here is not to assess Asad's nationalist credentials, a debate which I find only moderately interesting. My point is that none in Syria decided to side with or against the regime on the basis of its foreign policy, or on the basis of some "nationalist" sentiment. Making a decision based upon foreign policy issues is a luxury none can afford when a revolutionary process puts your own individual fate at stake: what people have in mind in such circumstances are issues like freedom, dignity, equality, fear, sectarianism, and interest, not "resistance" or "sympathy/antipathy for the west". People chose their side, then they rationalised it ex post by making Asad a beacon of nationalism, or on the contrary, a traitor. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain why formerly pro-Western bourgeois suddently discovered that they were staunch anti-imperialists, whereas hardline Islamists who had volunteered to fight US troops in Iraq a few years before claimed that they would not mind if NATO was providing them with air support.

3) Regarding your study of Syrian `Ulama’, is it fair to say that the `ulama’ who joined the revolt tend to be more reactionary and more conservative than those like Buti and Hassun who stuck with the regime? (I am not merely talking about reformism in terms of rituals following Qaradawi but in terms of views of women and minorities and role of religion in society and body politic?

First of all, I cannot think of a more reactionary stance than supporting Asad's fascistic and homicidal regime. This is what really matters if we speak of "conservatism" and "reformism".

For the rest, no, it is not fair to say such a thing. There is no general pattern here. First of all, al-Buti and Hassun are hardly comparable figures. Supporting the regime is probably the only thing they ever agreed upon. Hassun holds fairly non-conformist views, he has spoken positively of secularism and inter-faith dialogue. An arch-conservative, al-Buti despised all of this. His alliance with the regime was not based on any kind of sympathy for the regime's ideology, which he execrated, but instead on pragmatism and on a medieval, quietist approach to Sunni political theology. Al-Buti simply never expressed a single reformist opinion during his life. By comparison with him, Mouaz al-Khatib is a very liberal and open-minded figure. On women, for instance, there is a very telling anecdote that happened in 2007: al-Buti lobbied for months in order to obtain that two feminist associations be banned by the authorities, which eventually happened; the only religious figure who openly criticised that initiative was Mouaz al-Khatib, who argued that "Islamists should never think in terms of repression". On minorities, regardless of the text on Sunni-Shiite relations he published in early 2007 (which in my view was misinterpreted and not properly contextualised), al-Khatib has made very clear public statements about inter-faith unity. I think in particular of his April 2011 speech at a funeral in Duma, in which he said the following:

All of us are one same body. I say to you: the Alawites are much closer to me than many people. I know their villages, their impoverished villages where they live under oppression and toil. We speak for the freedom of every human being in this country, for every Sunni, every Alawite, every Ismailite, every Christian, every Arab and every member of the great Kurdish nation.

All his further statements on minorities and in particular on the Alawites have been absolutely unambiguous.

Much of that could also be said of Imad al-Din al-Rashid, the former vice-dean of the faculty of sharia, who was one of the first Muslim scholars to go into exile in 2011. For years, al-Rashid has talked and written much about the compatibility between Islam and the concept of citizenship.

You can add Muhammad Habash, a former ally of the regime, whose very liberal positions on interfaith relations where branded as "heretic" by al-Buti.

Of course, most of the oppositional ulama are more conservative. They share many of the ideas of al-Buti, except (and it is not a detail) that they have refused to legitimise Asad's regime.

4) what kind of islam is likel to prevail following the fall of the regime?

This will be contested. Salafi interpretations of Islam (there are several of them) are on the rise for various reasons, but a backlash is not to be excluded if some Salafi groups show too forceful in imposing their views upon the population. Some people may turn (back) to proponents of more flexible approaches like the Muslim Brothers and the traditional ulama. Reformist approaches are likely to remain in the backseat, but they were not in good shape before the revolution either. Under the Asads, proponents of Islamic reform were either silenced, or delegitimized through cooptation.

5) Are you pleased with the state of Western academic consensus on Syria, where few are comfortable to speak out against the opposition? I know that because I often receive private communications from colleagues (in our academic email list) who don’t feel comfortable in publicly criticizing the opposition?

I do not think that there is a clear "consensus" among Western academics about Syria, but if a majority of Western scholars support the revolution, I am totally pleased with that. As for academics being afraid of publicly criticizing the opposition, well, I can tell you that, conversely I received private communications from colleagues in our academic email list who did not feel comfortable in publicly supporting the opposition. The fact is simply that many of our colleagues do not like to speak up in general.
6) Why was the news and reality of Islamist involvement in the early uprising and revolt in Syria covered up—in my opinion—in Western media and even academic narrative? Looking back, was the story of Suhayr Al-Atasi leading the uprising one of many lies spread by the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters to camouflage their involvement?

I do not understand what you are talking about. The Muslim Brothers were involved in early attempts at organizing the opposition abroad, but they played no major role on the ground during the early, peaceful phase of the revolution, neither did any other Islamist movement. The peaceful phase of the revolution was a spontaneous, grassroots movement that involved various components of the Syrian society. It happens that this society comprises a large number of conservative, religious-minded people, but that does not make the uprising an Islamist one. I never heard the claim that Suhayr Al-Atasi was leading the uprising. Her stance was courageous and she certainly was an important symbol, but no particular group or figure was leading that largely de-centralized uprising.

Islamist involvement on the ground started to become significant with the militarisation of the revolution from late 2011 on (I distinguish between the emergence of the first armed organizations during the summer, and the militarisation of the revolution as a whole at the end of the year). It was hardly covered up by the Western media, who have probably released more reports on Jabhat al-Nusra than on any other aspect of the Syrian revolution.

7) Do you think that conditions of women in Syria will not deteriorate no matter what?

Conditions of women can only improve because they cannot be worse than under a regime that has displaced, shelled, killed, injured, raped, arrested, tortured, widowed, and orphaned millions of Syrian women.
8) Is it possible that justice in the future can be meted without sectarian revenge?

Do you mean "will Sunnis kill Alawites once they are in power?" I cannot care about it at this stage. My present concern is that Asad's sectarian army is committing mass atrocities against the Sunni population. It is not a risk for the future, it is something that is happening right now. The problem is that many people do not even recognize the sectarian character of these atrocities, claiming that repression targets opponents from all sects, including Alawites. In fact ordinary repression does target opponents from all sects, but collective punishments (large-scale massacres, destruction of entire cities) are reserved for Sunnis, just like they were reserved for Iraqi Shiites and Kurds under Saddam Hussein.

I do not deny the fact that some groups among the armed opposition have been involved in sectarian crimes, but differences in means, scale and political responsibility simply make any comparison irrelevant.

To sum up: let's stop the regime's mass crimes against the Sunnis, then we can speak of the risk of sectarian revenge.
9) If a growing number of Syrians feel disenchanted from the regime and from the opposition, what will that mean?

The regime and the opposition are essentially different realities, so I do not think that you can feel disenchanted from both in the same way. The regime has an address, a leader, it is unified and it has a clear pattern of action, that is, mass killing and destruction. The opposition is a very diverse reality that ranges from exiled proponents of non-violence to local civilian committees and councils on the ground, mainstream Islamists like the Muslim Brothers, mainstream armed groups like the "FSA" (whatever that means), and radical Salafi Jihadis. Many Syrians certainly dislike one or several of these components, but at least the "opposition" offers them a broad spectrum of political options. The regime does not.
10) was it embarrassing for Western supporters of the Syrian armed opposition that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were the early and later sponsors?

Not at all. The question is not whether or not the Syrian opposition should accept Saudi and Qatari support (Turkey does not provide any tangible aid, it merely facilitates), it is whether the Syrian opposition wants to keep on fighting, or surrender (I do not believe in a third way, i.e. peaceful revolution and/or negotiations; it cannot work with that regime). If the opposition wants to keep on fighting, it cannot survive without external logistical support, and none is willing to provide it except for Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

My only concern is the half-heartedness and inefficiency of these countries' military support. For various reasons, these states want to weaken Asad, but they are not eager to see him replaced, hence the limits of their support. The outdated Croatian weapons provided to the rebels over the last months are better than nothing, but these states could do much more. Arms deliveries they have paid for compare very poorly, for instance, with the top-notch weaponry provided to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria."