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There was Breaking News of sorts out of Russia on Syria this afternoon. Russia announced on Monday that it was stopping all new weapons sales to Syria. However, it will continue to honor all existing contracts, which makes this not such a hot item in my book. Here is a good Washington Post story on the item:

Russia: No new arms sales to Syria

Jul. 9, 2012 - Russia announced Monday that it is stopping all new weapons sales to Syria. It is continuing to honor old weapons deals, over the objection of western diplomats. (AP)

Considerably more interesting is this little tidbit from Christiane Amanpour indicating that Russian would not oppose unilateral western intervention in Syria:
Dimitri Simes on Syria: "[Russia] would not resist such an intervention..."

For the Monday, July 9th edition of Amanpour, host Christiane Amanpour interviewed the president of the Center for the National Interest, Dimitri Simes, for insights into Russia's  resistance to Western intervention in Syria – and asked whether that position may be evolving.  This is a portion of that exchange:

:  Well, you say Russia wouldn't resist.  Do you mean if the United States decided to gather its own coalition and do, for instance, what it did in Kosovo, do an end run around Russia, that Russia would not resist?

SIMES:  Well, since you asked, recently had a top-level Russian delegation hosted by the Center for the National Interest, it included a senior Russians official being there in an official capacity.  And we had a private dinner this question was raised, and the answer was very clear.  Russia would not welcome such an intervention; Russia would not approve such an intervention.  It would not resist such an intervention and this intervention would not become a major issue in the U.S.-Russian relationship.

The NY Times has also come out with their take on these developments:
Russia Prods Syria’s President Assad With Message of Growing Impatience
Published: July 9, 2012
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Moving further from its strict stance of nonintervention, Russia pressured President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Monday to be more flexible about the future of his ravaged country, insisting that he talk with adversaries, inviting an anti-Assad delegation to the Kremlin and restricting shipments of new weapons to the Syrian armed forces.

Taken together, the developments appeared to signal that Russia, the Syrian government’s most important foreign backer, may be laying the basis for the option of eventually distancing itself from Mr. Assad, who has repeatedly cast the uprising against him as the work of foreign-backed terrorists and has insisted that he enjoys popular support.

However it looks like external military intervention will not be necessary.

These apparent changes in Russian policy are being driven by even quicker changes on the ground. And far more important than these reports about what the Russian are going is this segment from Richard Engel who has just come back from Syria and reports what is happening on the ground.

He says that Assad now controls little of Syria outside of the major cities. In the countryside and villages, it is the Free Syrian Army that is in control. They travel freely on the roads, armed and in uniform. They are getting regular requests from Syrian army posts to be attacked so that they too will have an excuse to run away and defect. None of the 80,000 new conscripts that are suppose to enroll in Assad's army this year are showing up. The FSA is buying their weapons from Syrian Army officers and in general it sound like the situation is changing very fast.

Richard Engel was also on the Rachel Maddow show tonight and he went into more details there. This is a very important report:

In the same vein, James Bay of Al Jazeera interviews a captured Syrian soldier who defects to the opposition:

Homs has seen some of the worst violence between government and opposition forces. Activists claim an increasing number of Syrian soldiers based there have been defecting. Al Jazeera's James Bays went to Homs province sent this exclusive report.
              James Bays comments on Syrian defections
As the battles in Syria grow more intense, it is extremely difficult to work out what is going on in the country's multiple front lines. Al Jazeera's James Bays reports.
The Nation is concerned with what will become of Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons in the piece they put out just minutes ago:
Syria threatens toxic outcome
Leonard S Spector
Washington July 10, 2012 1:00 am

As rebels gain territory, regime guards could abandon chemical-weapon arsenals

Conflict is escalating in Syria with the Assad government losing control. Rebels are receiving new shipments of armaments and have extended their control to large areas of the countryside in the north and receive new shipments of armaments, even as high-profile army defections undermine confidence in the government and strain resources.

Syria's massive chemical arsenal poses multiple dangers as the country's violent unrest slides into civil war.

And the mass protests that are driving everything continue as well: This was yesterday in Dara:

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout

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Comment Preferences

  •  #I am having trouble #understanding (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, furi kuri, killjoy

    what it is you're #saying

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 10:47:48 PM PDT

  •  Hi, Clay (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, MKSinSA

    The link to the second video (Rachel Maddow Show) goes to a report on Libya from March.  Just wanted to let you know.

    A camel can carry a lot of gold, but it still eats alfalfa.

    by oldliberal on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 10:59:23 PM PDT

  •  I Just Want To Ask A Question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, TofG

    do you think we, meaning the US, should get involved in Syria?

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 11:02:50 PM PDT

  •  Wolfowitz Wants War Against Syria (8+ / 0-)

    From your diaries, I assume you agree with "Wolfie"?
    Every once in a while, the neoconservatives trot out crusty old Paul Wolfowitz,
    In an op-ed in the Washington Post, which is leaning increasingly in a neocon direction anyway, Wolfowitz calls on Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general and current top diplomat on the crisis in Syria, to resign and get out of the way so that the United States can go bombs-away. Never mind that Annan is the one person whose faltering yet creative diplomacy might yet bring Washington, Moscow and even Tehran into alignment over ending the civil war in Syria. Writes Wolfie:

    The Post’s Jim Hoagland reported on this page last month that a European diplomat told him: “Kofi will not go on forever providing cover for others.… His resignation would allow the world to see very clearly what Russia is doing—and what the United States is not doing—that makes them both complicit in the killing of a nation. But he also knows resignation is a gun with only one bullet.” Annan should fire that bullet and stop providing the United States and other self-described “friends of Syria” with excuses for inaction. But whether or not he does, the United States and others cannot blame their failure on Annan. It is long past time to confront the real policy choices.

    Those choices, Wolfowitz tells us, are: arm the rebels, create US-protected safe zones in Turkey, and begin an Libya-style bombing campaign.

  •  Syria’s Thriving Elites (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shawn Russell, ColoTim, mookins
    Previous 1 / 16 Next
    Kate Brooks for Newsweek

    Some 10,000 lives have been lost during the Syrian government’s vicious crackdown on protesters, according to the United Nations, and the violence is threatening to spread to neighboring countries.  Yet in the capital of Damascus, the music plays on for the nation’s elite. To the Christians, Alawites, and secular Sunnis, President Bashar Assad has guaranteed stability in the country. Many of the upper class in Damascus fear that the rebels would turn the country into a religiously conservative country like Yemen, and believe that the anti-Assad movement is aided by outside support from other countries.  One 17-year-old boy from an affluent Damascus home thinks that now isn’t the right time for change in Syria and feels that any change shouldn’t be imposed by other countries.  “Why should we take democracy lessons from Saudi Arabia, who arms the opposition?” he tells Newsweek. “They don’t even let women drive!” Damascus was named the Arab world’s Cultural Capital by UNESCO four years ago, and residents still listen to performances by the city’s orchestra, and sip champagne at open-air restaurants. Although there is a constant threat of kidnapping and several armed checkpoints, some people in Damascus still go out at night to attend the opera and dinner parties. During the day, they enjoy pool parties and shopping at upscale boutiques, while clashes occur in neighboring suburbs and handmade bombs go off on occasion.

    Photographer Kate Brooks went to Damascus on assignment for Newsweek. Here, a view of the city from the deserted Jebel Al Qassioun, usually a popular place for picnics and socializing.  

  •  Check this video (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, MKSinSA, killjoy, mookins

    FSA fighters in Rastan (hometown of the Republican Guard general who defected over the weekend) show off a captured arsenal

    Three T-62 tanks (at least one fully functional), an armored police vehicle, and several 'technical' pickup trucks armed with medium and heavy machine guns.  Not to mention the sizable contingent of clearly trained, uniformed soldiers.

    Richard Engel is right.  This is now a very different conflict from where it was just a few weeks ago.

    Follow Me on Twitter!!/TarantinoDork

    by TarantinoDork on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 11:53:46 PM PDT

    •  They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shawn Russell, protectspice

      Translation of comments:

      Faruq Brigades, the spoils in the city of Rastan 08/07/2012
      Rastan News Network .. Coordinating Rastan .. Rastan now .. Coordinating free Rastan

      Terrorist Organization Profile:
      al-Faruq Brigades

      Bases of Operation:     Iraq

      Date Formed:     November 29, 2003

      Strength:     Unknown number of members

      Classifications:     Nationalist/Separatist, Religious

      Financial Sources:     Unknown

      Founding Philosophy:     The al-Faruq Brigades are a Jihadist terrorist group fighting coalition forces in Iraq. Their self-proclaimed goal is to "Cleanse Baghdad, the City of Peace, of the invaders, by the grace of God, on a day when the Believers will rejoice at God's triumph." They believe that their "Jihad in Iraq is a jihad of victory or martyrdom." Although their name only became prominent publicly after the phase of major combat in Iraq and the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime, the group has claimed that it also fought alongside the Iraqi Army near Baghdad in May 2003.

      Current Goals:     Although they have been definitively linked only to the November 2003 attack on a group of Spanish soldiers, the group has boasted of involvement in a number of other attacks, mainly on American soldiers. On a number of Jihadist websites and through a publication called the Free Arab Voice, the al-Faruq Brigades have claimed that they have begun to manufacture a number of different kinds of rockets, including a "dirty warhead" with red mercury. Although the Ansar al-Sunnah group has been held responsible, the al-Faruq brigades have claimed that they used these rockets in the December 2004 attack on an American base at al-Ghizlani, near Mosul in northern Iraq.

      The group has not claimed responsibility for any terrorist act in Iraq since December 2004; however, there have been no reports about the capture of any group members. They are presumed to still be active.

      •  Your guy is going down! (0+ / 0-)

        His murderous ways will stopped and that will be the end of it.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 05:22:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Assad is not my guy. Why can't you get off (0+ / 0-)

          your "if you're not with me, you're with the enemy" hobbyhorse?

          No foreigners were seen among Farouq’s fighters during the week a reporter spent with them, though more than a half-dozen fighters, when a reporter told them he had spent time reporting in Iraq, offered that they also had fought there during the U.S. invasion and occupation. Often, their first question was whether the reporter had visited Fallujah, the city that became synonymous with Iraq’s Sunni Muslim resistance after anti-American fighters took it over in 2003 and held U.S. forces largely at bay before a full-scale assault by U.S. forces in late 2004 recaptured it, destroying more than 80 percent of the city in the effort.

          Read more here:

          Al-Faruq Brigades

          In the reports, the Al-Faruq Brigades have detailed their military operations and have claimed responsiblity for a number of specific attacks against U.S. forces.

          The reports have detailed their exercises in different regions, including the city of al-Fallujah, where the al-Faruq Brigades have claimed to have attacked a Bradley fighting vehicle, killing six Americans. They have also claimed to have successfully carried out an ambush on American Special Forces.

          In Al-Anbar Province, the group claimed to have planted explosives in ar-Ramadi to target the positions of American Forces, killing 10 soldiers and destroying three armored vehicles. The militants have detailed their military tactics against U.S. forces in the province.

          In the port city of Al-Bakr, the al-Faruq Brigades claimed that Iraqi Special Forces inflitrated the port and opened fire with French-made MM33 surface-to-surface missiles on U.S. military boats heading towards al-Faw. Reportedly, three boats were destroyed and all aboard those boats were killed. The group stated, that this operation affirmed "that the jihadi resistance in Iraq is able to use means that do not occur to the Americans. The future holds yet more surprises."

          Al-Faruq has also been involved in suicide bombing against U.s. Forces, which the group refer to as "martyrdom" operations. One such incident involved a HUMWVV vehicle which was set on and killed at least one soldier.

      •  And I hear Republicans kill people in Ireland (4+ / 0-)

        You've found two groups with similar names, congratulations.

        The Farouq Brigades of Iraq are a defunct terrorist organization that probably never actually existed except on some guy's fax machine.  As you note, they were only linked to one attack a decade ago and most everything they claimed was actually perpetrated by a Kurdish Al Qaeda affiliate known as Ansar al Islam.

        The Farouq Brigades of the Free Syrian Army are almost wholly composed of Syrian Army defectors, with thousands of men with a headquarters of sorts in Idlib province.  IT DIDN"T EXIST BEFORE 2011.  They wear military uniforms (something Al Qaeda would find UnIslamic) and in fact a reputation as being ANTI-Al Qaeda...earlier this year they killed the leader of the Lebanese Al Qaeda affiliate Fatah Al Islam.

        Free advice, don't sell the car dealership to become a global affairs analyst.

        Follow Me on Twitter!!/TarantinoDork

        by TarantinoDork on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:27:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are you prepared to have a new Syrian government (0+ / 0-)

          controlled by Al Farouq?

          Homs Opposition: Al Farouq Battalion is Killing Us

          It is extremely rare to have a direct peephole into events on the ground in Syria. The hard-fought battle over narratives often leaves truth in the dust. But among the cache of recently leaked emails (exclusive to Al Akhbar) from Syrian National Council (SNC) President Burhan Ghalioun’s inbox, comes this gem – important information that further highlights the glaring loophole in UN Envoy Kofi Annan’s demilitarization plans for Syria: rogue fighters.

          The email sent to Ghalioun on March 25 summarizes a meeting held by members of various armed opposition groups operating in Homs – chiefly to address the pressing problem of the rogue al-Farouq Battalion.

          While the March 25 email sheds much-needed light on one small part of the Syrian armed opposition, it also illustrates just how egregiously misleading existing narratives are on the situation inside the country.

          Toxic Battle

          Around the hard core of the Alawi support for the Assad regime are the Christians, 10 percent, and equally numerous Ismailis, Druzes and ethnic Kurds, who collectively fear the onset of a post-Assad regime dominated by militant Sunnis. According to the Vatican news agency Fides, Sunni fighters recently went from house to house in the Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan neighborhoods of Homs under their control, forcing Christians to flee. All told, 50,000 Christians have lost their homes in Homs, some by army shelling, but many more because of ongoing targeted assaults by Sunni extremists such as the Farouq Brigade, composed mainly of foreign jihadists who have poured into Syria.

  •  Quite amazing how fast things changed (0+ / 0-)

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 06:11:16 AM PDT

  •  I saw Richard Engel too last night on TRMS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It was good news that conditions are on the change now in Syria - but I have to be amazed at the numbers of people who have already died - 10,000/30,000. Something. The rebels are brave people. It is a nightmare.

    By the way - I admire Engel's reporting. Being able to speak the language is awesome.

    Working on a dream to come true.

    by redstella on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 06:49:35 AM PDT

  •  I don't believe Simes on Russia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not opposing intervention nor intervention not affecting the US-Russia relationship. Russia has had its own Islamists to deal with and would much rather not have them in Syria, particularly the brand that the FSA is supporting. Listen to what Lavrov has been saying, no some unnamed lower-level functionary.

    Do you have a link for your 80,000 conscripts not showing up? I'm not surprised that young men would not want to show up for duty but I find it difficult to believe that none of them showed up (particularly from communities who think that their lives are under threat if the FSA wins) and I also find if difficult that in a country of 26 million people, there are 80,000 conscripts a year for a military force of around 400,000.

    Have you also reported the news that the NCB has disassociated itself with the FSA? This is a group of about a dozen parties inside Syria who coordinate a lot of the internal non-violent opposition to the Assad regime. The opposition is not as united as you think and why you are supporting sectarian and extremely right-wing elements (funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar!) rather than secular and progressive elements in Syria is beyond me.

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