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This is clearly from the "For What Its Worth Dept." but since I think it does pass the sniff test of plausibility, I thought I'd share this with you.

From asharq alawsat, the leading Arabic International Daily - English Edition, by Nazeer Rida, 24 Dec 2012:

US - Russia reach agreement on al-Assad ouster: Opposition sources

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Senior sources in the opposition Syrian National Coalition have revealed that Moscow and Washington have reached an agreement on the Syria crisis, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that this includes “a settlement regarding the departure of President Bashar al-Assad from power”. However the source added that “sticking points in this agreement include the precise mechanism of al-Assad’s departure and handover of power.”

The source confirmed that this US - Russian agreement which was reached during meetings between officials in Dublin and Geneva last week “stipulates that a settlement has truly been agreed”. The senior Syrian National Coalition source added that these meetings "led to two options being outlined for the Syrian President, namely either that he is a partner in transferring power and enjoys international protection, or the transfer of power is negotiated in his absence and he loses the [international] protection that can be gained by agreeing to a settlement.”

This information intersects with other information revealed by Syrian National Coalition member Adib al-Shishakli on his Facebook page. Quoting a Russian source, al-Shishakli claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has expressed his readiness to negotiate and leave power, accompanied by 142 members of his entourage.”

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, al-Shishakli revealed that this 142 member entourage “includes 108 military and security figures who are responsible for issuing orders to the armed and security forces to kill Syrians” adding “as for the rest, these are members of the al-Assad family.”

Al-Shishakli stressed that al-Assad was including these figures in the negotiations “with the objective of protecting them from International Criminal Court [ICC] prosecution.”

The senior Syrian National Coalition figure also asserted that “the Russians are now well aware that they are no longer able to protect al-Assad in power, and they have no choice but to lift immunity from him and negotiate with the international community.”

For his part, another Syrian National Coalition member, Walid al-Bunni told Asharq Al-Awsat that Russian – US talks are ongoing with UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi over the Syrian file. He stressed that “the Syrian opposition will not accept any solution that includes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power.”

Al-Bunni said “the Syrian opposition will also not accept any political solution except after the departure of al-Assad, his aides, family and the rest of his regime” adding “the Syrian security apparatus, which has terrorized the Syrian people throughout this period, must also be dismantled.”

Speaking on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “we are not concerned about the fate of al-Assad’s regime. We understand what is going on there.” Commenting on this, al-Bunni said “there is a new Russian political approach that is different than its previous approach” adding “this can be inferred from the statements issued by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as well as other statements issued after this, particularly those by Putin.”

Speaking last week, Bogdanov told reporters that al-Assad’s forces are “losing more and more control and territory” adding “we cannot rule out the victory of the Syrian opposition.” Speaking on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia isn’t a “defender” of Syria’s President al-Assad, adding that Moscow wants to see a democratically elected government in Damascus.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Syrian National Coalition member Walid al-Bunni said “I believe that the Russian viewpoint is in the process of change, after Moscow became aware that the Syrian opposition are making gains on the ground, becoming convinced that al-Assad’s ouster is only a matter of time.”

In a related context, the opposition Syrian National Coalition described an Iranian initiative to resolve the Syrian crisis as a “desperate attempt to prolong the life of the al-Assad regime.”

Tehran has detailed a six-point peace initiative that does not include the ouster of the al-Assad regime, but instead calls for “an immediate halt to violence and armed action under the supervision of the United Nations.” The Iranian peace initiative also calls for sanctions against Syria to be lifted, the start of a “national dialogue”, the establishment of a transitional government and free elections.

In an official statement, the Syrian National Coalition said “the regime and its allies keep on launching lackluster and overdue political initiatives. The Iranian initiative represents one example of these desperate attempts to throw a lifeline to the inevitably sinking ship of the al-Assad regime.”

The statement added “the Iranian regime refuses to believe that what is happening in Syria is a revolution whose goal is liberation from the authoritarian and oppressive regime, and that this revolution is going to achieve complete victory.”

Also this evening, The Guardian is running this very informative piece that is just chock full of news, I suggest you follow the link and read the whole thing:
Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention

Advisers deployed with surface-to-air systems bolster President Assad's defences and complicate outcome of any future strikes
Julian Borger   
Sunday 23 December 2012 16.30 EST   

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria's more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.

The depth and complexity of Syria's anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences.

Meanwhile, near-daily atrocities have kept western governments under pressure to act. A Syrian government air strike on a town near the central city of Hama on Sunday killed dozens of civilians queueing for bread, according to human rights activists.

Amateur footage from Halfaya showed mangled human remains strewn along a street where people had been blown off scooters and out of cars. One video showed a boy with his feet blown off. Piles of corpses could be seen beneath rubble outside a two-storey building the cameraman described as a bakery. It was unclear how many bodies were in the smoking ruins.

Human Rights Watch has previously accused the regime of targeting bakeries. The group warned the Assad regime that such targeted bombing of civilians represented war crimes. However, in the face of a Russian veto at the UN security council, the international criminal court has not had a mandate to investigate the atrocities committed by either side. The UN has put the death toll at more than 40,000 as the war continues to escalate.

Turkish officials, who accurately predicted the Syrian regime would use Scud missiles after several warplanes were shot down by rebels, also believe President Bashar al-Assad has twice come close to using chemical weapons including sarin, the nerve gas. First, after the bombing of the regime's Damascus security headquarters in July, which killed the president's brother in law, Assef Shawkat, and then last month, after opposition forces made significant gains.

The Turks and western officials say there are signs Assad sees chemical weapons as another step in the escalation of force, rather than a Rubicon-crossing gamble that could end his regime. The US, UK, France and Turkey have warned Syria that its use of such weapons would trigger military retribution. But any such a response would be fraught with difficulties. More...

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria
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Comment Preferences

  •  How brave they have been, the people of (7+ / 0-)

    the Arab Spring, to risk all for hope.  They've set us all a sterling example.

    And thank you Clay Claiborne for putting me in the know with these well-sourced posts!

  •  So he wants to bring along (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell

    those that assisted him in the architecture of this destruction?  I call bullshit.

    I say they all need to pay for their crimes against the Syrian people.

    "There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result." - Winston Churchill

    by Dingodude on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:43:15 PM PST

    •  At what cost? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac

      Clearly, Assad and his cronies deserve to be tried and punished as criminals.

      But would it be worth extending the war, and getting God knows how many more people killed, to make that happen, if a deal to remove him from power in exchange for immunity can be reached?

      This is always the question in these situations.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 07:34:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The best way to get bitten by a poisonous snake (0+ / 0-)

      is to leave it no way out. The US has always given safe haven to dictators it supports.

      When will the US pay for it's crimes against the Iraqis and Afghans and Vietnamese and Cambodians and innocent citizens of several dozen other nations? Don't the American politicians, generals and soldiers who took part also need to pay for their crimes?

  •  I almost hope it's true (0+ / 0-)

    But the world can't let Assad or his murderous crime family have protection from War Crimes prosecution.   It's extremely important for potentially saving countless more citizens of autocratic governments.

    Besides, it would be too much let Obama letting Bush and Cheney (and CIA operatives) go for their War Crimes.  

  •  Not to pick on you after yesterday, but... (0+ / 0-)

    ...do you have permission to republish this much copyrighted material?

  •  Just 142...I bet there are scores... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell

    ...of people that assumed they were more "inside" that Assad seems to and will be left to fend for themselves.

    The Assads are probably already in an undisclosed location.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 04:23:04 AM PST

  •  Another BS diary totally unrelated (0+ / 0-)

    to reality.

    Here is reality:

    http://www.usatoday.com/...

    Why do you like to post obviously false stories?  I really dont get it.

    •  Why do you assume USA Today is right... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      killjoy

      and the Arabic newspaper and the Guardian are wrong?  Are you usually a big USA Today guy?

      There's clearly some "fog of war" going on here.  Perhaps it would be wiser for you to adopt the same "This is plausible, so I'd thought I'd share it with you" stance as Clay.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 07:38:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  BS (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice

        There is only one reality.  Do a google news search and you will see how many sources beyond USA Today confirm same.

        •  Um, that's just the AP feed. (0+ / 0-)

          It is, indeed, easy to find other newspapers that are running the same AP story, but that's not generally what the term "confirm" means.  It's not about independent sources, but about multiple outlets running the same story from the same source.

          So we're still left with the fog of war.  Yes, there is only one reality.  You still haven't given my any particular reason to think that the story you want to hear (for some stranger reason) is closer to that reality than the story you don't want to hear.

          Art is the handmaid of human good.

          by joe from Lowell on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:38:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Forget it (0+ / 0-)

            You dont get it and it is not worth the effort to show you the obvious.   The fact that you recommend bizarre diaries like this one, summarizes your case.   Have nice holidays.

            •  I "get it" just fine. I disagree with "it." (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              killjoy

              Those are two different things.

              I'm not sure if you know this, but throwing a little tantrum like this, and pretending that your very obvious point has somehow eluded me, doesn't make you look any more right.

              It just makes you look like you're taking your ball and going home.

              Art is the handmaid of human good.

              by joe from Lowell on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 09:48:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  WaPo report on Syria (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    Talks with Syria’s Assad end with no breakthrough
    ANTAKYA, Turkey — An international envoy who met Monday with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad described the ongoing war between the government and rebels as worrisome and suggested that no breakthrough was imminent.
    ...
    The opposition insists that no end to the fighting is possible as long as Assad stays in power. The government calls the rebels terrorists, extremists and foreign agents who would compromise Syrian independence. Assad has vowed not to leave the country for exile abroad.
    ...
    On Sunday, a Syrian airstrike in Halfaya in Hama province hit the town’s only working bakery. The count of people who died or were wounded while waiting to buy bread was still incomplete, but estimates ranged from the low 40s to just under 100. That was far less than initial estimates, yet the airstrike qualified as one of deadliest single incidents during the 21 months of conflict.

    Though it was unclear how many of the casualties at the bakery were civilians and how many were fighters, seething opposition leaders characterized the airstrike as a massacre.
    ...
    Rami Abdulrahman, who posts a running count of casualties reported by opposition activists on his Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said in a phone interview that the casualties were all fighters who took ill after they inhaled the gas during a battle.

    “We don’t know exactly what it is,” Abdulrahman said, adding that he doubts it was a chemical weapon such as sarin gas. “You have six people killed, no more,” he said. “If chemical weapons were used, it would be many more.”

    The Arabic satellite television network al-Jazeera reported that the toxic fumes may have come from a concentrated form of tear gas.
    ...

    Here's some new video from the "breadline massacre":
  •  “a very strange logic” west wants it both ways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice

    The west/UN has also blamed the Assad regime for failing to protect minorities from militant Islamist attacks in several villages.

    http://www.thehindu.com/...

    Syria protecting not using chemical arms: Russia

     Russia’s Foreign Minister has rubbished speculation that Syria could use chemical weapons against rebels and suggested that the risk of the reverse happening was far greater.

    “I don’t believe Syria would use chemical weapons. It would be a political suicide for the government if it does,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview released on Monday.

    Mr. Lavrov told the TV channel RT that Moscow “double-checks” and “triple-checks” on every rumour or report about the movement of Syrian chemical weapons.
    ...
     According to the information available to the Russian side, “which correlates with the information the Americans have”, Mr. Lavrov said, the Syrian government has been assembling all chemical weapons stocked in various locations at two sites, “to make sure that it is absolutely protected”.

    “And it is also accepted by everyone including our Western colleagues [the Europeans and the Americans] that the biggest threat in this situation is the probability that the rebels might take hold of chemical weapons”, said Mr. Lavrov.

    Mr. Lavrov made it clear that Western powers cannot have it both ways — secure the safety of Syrian chemical weapons and continue to arm the rebels.

    He called it “a very strange logic” when the West pins full responsibility for the chemical arsenals on the Syrian government “even if the rebels capture them”, while providing the opposition with “arms, money and moral and political support” to carry on their fight.

  •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

    Much better.

    Your glitch can be your superpower (Sarah Silverman, Brand X)

    by sofia on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 11:50:29 AM PST

  •  Really? (3+ / 0-)

    Ash-Sharq al-Awsat is a leading international Arabic daily? I stopped reading right there since this rag is actually the mouthpiece of Prince Salman. It's as much of a propaganda pusher as Fox News and has the level of credibility of Rush Limbaugh. This is not a news organisation that should be quoted at a site like dkos. Stop taking advantage of the credulity and ignorance of people here who don't know that what you are presenting them is rubbish. (Readers can google ash-sharq al awsat at angry arab and see the dreck that comes up).

    •  Al Arabiya is another Saudi mouthpiece (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      protectspice

      It is run by ex-Al Sharq Al Awsat editer, Abdulrahman al Rashed. Both "news" agencies are similar to a cross between Fox and the Weekly Standard. They both publish reports on the basis of twitters and facebook, just like Claiborne.

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