Friday 31 May 2013

Syrian Coalition comes back from the dead

From top left, clockwise: Michel Kilo, Farah Atassi, Fayez Sara and Samira Masalmeh
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces came back from the dead by closing ranks overnight and adding 43 new members to its general assembly.
It took the Coalition a full week of political wrangling and horse-trading at meetings in Istanbul to expand its general assembly.
The assembly swelled from 63 members on the May 23 opening day of its session to 71 members by May 27 and to 114 members – eight of them women -- on the session’s closing day early this morning.
The total number of National Coalition members is now 114, acting chief George Sabra told reporters, adding that the general assembly has now adjourned until June 12, when it would reconvene to elect a Coalition president.
The eight members voted in on May 27 were Christian thinker and liberal bloc leader Michel Kilo, Syrian-American activist Farah Atassi, Jamal Suleiman, Alia Mansour, Noura el-Amir, Ahmad Abulkhair Shukri, Ayman al-Aswad and Anwar Badr.
The 43 members co-opted overnight, Sabra said, are “15 from the Chief of Staff of the Free Syrian Army, 14 from al-Hirak al-Thawri (the Revolutionary Movement inside Syria) and 14 others.”
Eight of the “14 others” belong to Kilo’s liberal bloc. The rest include two independents, two representing the Local Coordination Committees and two belonging to the Syrian National Council.
The star newcomers on Kilo’s list are Fayez Sara and Samira Masalmeh, the first woman to become editor-in-chief of Syria’s state-run daily Tishreen. She was fired after giving an interview to the satellite station Aljazeera in which she held the security forces responsible for the killing by regime forces of 37 protesters in Deraa on April 8, 2011.
Sabra said the group had agreed a "plan for the transitional period", but did not elaborate.
The group had also set up agricultural, education and health committees to try and mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Syria, he added.
S-330s, MiGs and Apples
On the international front, Russian media are adamant today that Moscow has not yet delivered advanced S-300 missiles to Syria, despite rather vague Syrian indications to the contrary.
The Russian business daily Vedomosti said it was unclear whether or not the air-defense systems would be delivered this year, while the daily Kommersant reported the S-300 missiles would only be delivered in the second quarter of 2014. According to Kommersant, the systems would need another six months of testing and training before they become operational.
An arms industry source also told Russia’s Interfax today Moscow is unlikely to deliver a shipment of S-300s to Syria before the autumn. The source also indicated the timing of the delivery of the arms, which has alarmed Western governments, would depend on the development of the situation in Syria.
President Bashar Al-Assad didn't say S-300s have already begun arriving in Syria, Fox News reported last night.
Gen. Kornukov (top) and the MiG-29
It noted two different transcripts of the Al-Manar interview that were released, one in which Assad claims Syria already received the S-300, and a second one released later in which he used more careful, general language.
The second transcript was inconclusive and in it, Assad says, "There are many arms agreements between us and the Russians from a long time. The Russians are committed to their agreements. All that was agreed with Russia will be implemented and part of it has been already done. We and the Russians are in agreement and we will continue to be like this."
Former Russian Air Force Commander General Anatoly Kornukov told Interfax Syria needs at least ten S-300 divisions to fully protect its airspace.
“Our specialists,” he said, will also have “to train Syrian colleagues if they receive such systems. But everything will depend on the diligence of those trained. But the most minimal period of training is half of a month or a month.”
But the head of Russian aircraft maker MiG said separately Russia was counting on providing Syria with 10 MiG-29MM2 fighter planes, and was discussing details with a visiting Syrian delegation.
At the same time, the United States yesterday relaxed restrictions on the sale of mobile phones and other communications devices, software and services to Iran.
A five-page document by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has authorized the following transactions, effective immediately:
  • The exportation or re-exportation, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by US persons, wherever located, to persons in Iran of fee-based services incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet, such as instant messaging, chat and e-mail, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, Web browsing, and blogging.
  • The exportation or re-exportation, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by US persons, wherever located, to persons in Iran of consumer-grade Internet connectivity services and the provision, sale, or leasing of capacity on telecommunications transmission facilities (such as satellite or terrestrial network connectivity) incident to personal communications.

The shift marks the first time Apple's iPhone can be exported legally to Iran.
The newly relaxed rules have been interpreted as an effort to counter Tehran’s efforts to “silence its people” before the June 14 presidential elections, which are two weeks away.
I wonder.

Thursday 30 May 2013

“ضربنى وبكى سبقنى وأشتكى”

"He hit me and cried and ran and complained first"
Assad being interviewed for Al-Manar TV
The first thing that sprung to my mind on reading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s remark about Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia having sent in “100,000 Arab and foreign terrorists” to Syria to fight his regime was the old Arab adage ضربنى وبكى سبقنى وأشتكى -- or “He hit me and cried and ran  and complained first.”
His remark comes in a television interview to be aired this evening on Al-Manar, the television channel of Iran’s Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which has thousands of men fighting alongside his troops across Syria. No less than 7,000 of them are taking part in the regime offensive on the rebel-held town of Qusayr.
Assad makes no mention in the interview of their number or the total of other Shiite fighters from Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon helping him crush the Syrian opposition. Nor does he speak of Russian advisors or of Iranian arms supplies, logistical support and funding to his government.
In excerpts from the interview published by Lebanon's al-Akhbar newspaper, which speaks for the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance, Assad is quoted as saying: "The Syrian army has scored major victories against armed rebels on the ground and the balance of power is now with the Syrian army."
He admits Syria and Hezbollah are co-operating, being "part of the same Axis (of Resistance in tandem with Iran).”
"Hezbollah fighters are deployed along the Lebanon-Syria borders but the Syrian army is the one fighting and leading operations against the armed gangs. This will continue until the terrorist groups are crushed", al-Akhbar quotes him as saying.
Assad is also quoted as saying Syria has received the first shipment of the advanced Russian S-300 air defense system “and the rest of the shipment will follow shortly.”
Delivery of the S-300s raises fears of tension with Israel, as Assad is also reported to have threatened to respond directly if Israel launches any further airstrikes on Syria.
He also said, “The Syrian government will not stand in the way of any Syrian groups that want to wage a war of resistance to liberate the Golan."
On the proposed Geneva-2 talks with the opposition, Assad is quoted as telling Al-Manar the Damascus government would attend in principle but doubts the meeting will yield results.

Burhan Ghalioun shames Syria Coalition

Burhan Ghalioun, the first elected chairman of the Syrian National Council (SNC), a dominant component of the umbrella Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), is dismayed by the latter’s failure to expand its membership and elect a new leadership after seven days of meetings in Istanbul.
Overnight, he posted this critique of the Coalition in Arabic on his Facebook page:
What happened in the week of 23-28 May in Istanbul is a manifest tragedy that has shamed the Coalition and defamed the Revolution.
The Coalition’s job is to mobilize political, relief and military aid for the Revolution and the blighted population. This means bringing together the largest number and assortment of forces supportive of the Revolution, whether they are Syrian or allied forces that can get behind it.
The Coalition is not a parliament meant to represent those at home or overseas.
What cripples the Coalition to date is the tug-of-war between groups and alliances seeking to control it by trying to secure a bigger share of representation. The end result was that the Coalition spent all its time bickering over seats, positions and illusory presidencies.
This kind of squabbling has led to developments that transformed the Coalition.
Instead of being a tool to hem in opposition forces, the Coalition turned into a hotbed of tension driving them away. Instead of being a tool to drum up support and build Arab and international alliances, it came to be a means to tear apart these alliances and strain relations amongst countries endorsing us and wasting their endorsement.
In such a situation, independents like ourselves who do not belong to any rival parties and blocs or brawl to improve their groups’ positions, and have no concern other than to serve the national cause, sit on the sidelines. They are left with no task other than to reconcile feuding blocs and groups or watch them faceoff.
Our work in the Coalition thus becomes contrary to what is expected of us.
Instead of mustering support, we have come to spend most of our time and resources trying to put the Coalition house in order, solve disputes and deflate tensions.
We are left with no time to address the core issue that brought us together in the first place.
This state of affairs is unbefitting for us and should not go on in any way.
It is unlikely or unacceptable for the Coalition’s Executive and General Assembly sessions to remain open-ended for the sole purpose of co-opting new members. This, when the Coalition needs to be working day and night to meet the military, relief and political challenges facing the Revolution and the Opposition.
The starting point in any reform is to ban and bury power struggles in the Coalition.
The sine qua non for this is to disallow blocs and not to submit to, or go along with, their logic.
Instead, Coalition members would become evenly matched as individuals representing themselves. They would vote according to their conscience, thus shutting out any demand based on the logic of quotas, power balance adjustments or rat races.
Instead of the Coalition sanctifying apportionments, quotas and bloc chieftains massing followers, the Coalition should draw on revolutionaries and activists from all revolutionary and opposition forces capable of fulfilling the Coalition’s obligations.
Those obligations are to defend the Revolution’s principles and whip up all manner of support from all around so as to fulfill the task at hand.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Hezbollah dubbed “enemy of Arabs and Muslims”

More than two-thirds of participants in a four-day online survey that ended yesterday believe Hezbollah, Iran’s cat’s-paw in Lebanon, is the new adversary of Arabs and Muslims.
The one-question survey by asked: “Do you think Hezbollah has turned out to be an enemy of Arabs and Muslims?”
A total of 453,943 respondents (or 72.8%) said yes, compared to 169,605 (or 27.2%) who said no.
Almost half of the respondents (49.18%) were from Saudi Arabia. The others were from Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Turkey, Jordan, the UAE, Palestine, Morocco, the UK, Germany, France, the U.S., Canada and Australia.
One-question surveys are event driven, allowing respondents to give an immediate response with just one click to an important event.
In this case, the survey that closed yesterday got underway last Saturday, when Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, whose militiamen are openly fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army, told supporters Assad’s war “is ours, and I promise you victory.”
In his televised weekend address to Hezbollah loyalists in Mashghara, Nasrallah said his party would not let Assad fall to the U.S., Israel and the (Sunni) Takfiris.
He said, “Syria is the linchpin and backbone of the Resistance” and his party “cannot stand, arms folded, while its back is broken.”
To underscore the Syrian regime’s military alliance with Hezbollah, Assad’s office says he is set to give an interview to Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel tomorrow, Thursday.
The interview would be broadcast simultaneously on Syria's official television channels at 9 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT), the president's office announced on its Facebook page.
Today, member states of the UN Human Rights Council will consider a resolution condemning the presence of foreign combatants in Qusayr, as fighting over the strategic town in Homs province intensifies.
The draft resolution, referring to Hezbollah, condemns the presence of foreign fighters siding with the government as a serious threat to regional security.
It demands access for United Nations and other humanitarian agencies to all civilians affected by the conflict by authorizing cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid as an urgent priority.
Hezbollah seems to be shrugging off the international outcry over its involvement in the Syria war and a 24-hour ultimatum set yesterday by General Salim Idriss, chief of staff of the Free Syrian Army, to end it.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP news agency today Hezbollah has sent extra fighters to link up with Syrian elite Republican Guards troops in the assault on the rebel stronghold of Qusayr.

“The preparations indicate they are gearing for a major offensive” on neighborhoods in the north and west of the town the rebels have been holding for a year, he said.

“Despite the intense bombardment, the rebels are resisting fiercely,” Abdul Rahman said.

He said Sunni militiamen from Lebanon had joined the battle on the side of the Syrian opposition fighters.
“The fighting is becoming more and more sectarian (Shiite vs. Sunni) in character,” he added.

Strategically placed close to Syria’s border with Lebanon, Qusayr is home to 25,000 people, most of them Sunnis.
Syria’s regime is dominated by Alawite Shiites, while the majority of the population is Sunni.

Control of Qusayr is essential for the rebels as it is their principal transit point for weapons and fighters from across the border in Lebanon.

It is also strategic for the regime because it is situated on the road linking Damascus with its coastal heartland.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Syrian army to storm Aleppo in next to no time

M. Alani telling anchor Maysoon Azzam: Damascus wants to gain military ground pre-Geneva 2

Sen. John McCain with the FSA's Gen. Salim Idriss (center) and rebel commanders (above)
As fierce fighting rages around the Syrian capital Damascus and the strategic border town of Qusayr, Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters are preparing to storm Aleppo in next to no time.
Aleppo, Syria's largest city of three million and a former commercial center, is now split between rebel and government control.
The liberation battle is knocking at Aleppo’s door,” Radwan Mortada writes today on the front-page of al-Akhbar, Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime’s daily mouthpiece in Beirut. His news article appears verbatim on Hezbollah’s own al-Manar news portal.
Mortada, who five days ago explained why the battle for Qusayr would be long-drawn-out, reveals today:
The Syrian army won’t wait to settle the battle for Qusayr before initiating the battle for Aleppo.
Security sources tell al-Akhbar the Syrian army is already massing troops in the vicinity of Aleppo and preparing to storm it and free it from opposition fighters who seized it in late July 2012.
The sources talk of a strategy to splinter the key Syrian governorates – thus cutting off supply routes to rebels entrenched inside – before blitzing them.
The sources say the battle for Aleppo is about to happen, allowing regime forces to regain control of Syria’s two most important governorates:
  1. The Homs governorate, which until recently was known as the “cradle of the Syrian revolution” and is now teetering to the sound of the battle for Qusayr, “which sooner or later will be settled in the regime’s favor”
  2. The governorate of Rif Dimashq, where clusters of rebels are holding out in Darayya, and in places like Jobar, Barza and Dummar
Interviewed on Alarabiya TV news channel overnight, Dr. Mustafa Alani, senior advisor and director of the National Security and Terrorism Studies Department at the Gulf Research Center In Dubai, made no mention of an impending battle for Aleppo.
But he significantly told Alarabiya anchor Maysoon Azzam:
After eight days of fierce fighting, Hezbollah was only able to control tiny parts of Qusayr. I think Hezbollah forces are too scattered.
The regime does not want to join the Geneva-2 negotiations in June with its capital Damascus under siege.
Large chunks of Rif Dimashq remain in rebel hands and the regime is striving for a decisive military victory in the run-up to Geneva-2.
I don’t think the regime can do it, but it can make military advances ahead of the negotiations.
If its forces can totally dislodge the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups from the Damascus suburbs and Rif Dimashq, the regime would gain the upper hand in Geneva.
But prospects for Geneva -2 being held anytime soon dimmed today when Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Interfax, “There remains a gap between the positions of Russia and the United States regarding some issues and aspects of this major international crisis.
“And we, for our part, cannot agree to hold such an event [the international conference on Syria] amid a situation where partners and possible participants in such a conference seek to impose solutions on the Syrian people from the outside, as well as predetermine the course of a transitional process, the parameters of which have not been determined yet.”
He also said, “No, it [Geneva-2] will not be held” in the absence of an authoritative delegation representing the Syrian opposition.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was not entirely downcast on Geneva-2 yesterday, telling reporters after his talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “It's not an easy task. It's a very tall order. But I hope that when the United States and the Russian Federation take this kind of initiative, the chances for success are there."
As the two met in Paris, one of the strongest advocates of U.S. military aid for the Syrian opposition, Senator John McCain, made a surprise visit to Syria for discussions with rebel leaders.
McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, entered Syria through Turkey and was on the ground there for several hours.
He travelled with the Syrian Emergency Task Force and met General Salim Idriss, chief of staff of the Free Syrian Army, as well as 18 other rebel commanders, the BBC has learned.
Gen. Idriss called for arming the FSA to continue its fight, as well as a no-fly zone and airstrikes on government targets and on the forces of Hezbollah.
According to Mouaz Moustafa with the Washington-based Syrian Emergency Task Force that was involved in planning the trip, McCain spent about an hour meeting with FSA commanders from various parts of the country, including Aleppo, Homs, and Idlib.

Monday 27 May 2013

“The Battle for Qusayr is Sidi Bouzid”

Le Monde on use of chemicals in Damascus (top) and Yara Abbas, who was killed near Qusayr

Top Syria news at this writing:
  • President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have repeatedly used chemical weapons against rebel fighters in Damascus, according to first-hand accounts in France's Le Monde newspaper.
  • EU foreign ministers are set to discuss British and French calls for them to ease sanctions against Syria so weapons can be supplied to the rebels.
  • Yara Abbas, a prominent female war reporter for Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariyah TV, was killed near Dabaa airbase, a short distance from Qusayr. Rebels held the town of Qusayr in Homs province for a year but came under attack by Damascus government and Lebanese Hezbollah forces last week.

“The Battle for Qusayr is Sidi Bouzid,” according to Dr. Mamoun Fandy, an Egyptian-born American scholar who is a senior fellow at the Baker Institute, the United States Institute of Peace and at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
He writes in his think piece today for Saudi Asharq Alawsat:
The battle for Qusayr raging between Hezbollah and Syrian opposition forces is identical to Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunis, which sparked the Arab Spring uprising in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria.
Qusayr is Bouzid in the sense of sparking off a new conflict in the Arab region the framework of which was set by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in his Saturday speech.
I must say his address was – in terms of its bona fide implications – the most important I heard in the two years since Egypt’s late Vice President Omar Suleiman announced President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation.
Nasrallah’s address effectively outlined the nature of the dawning Sunni-Shiite struggle, the opening round of which is the battle for Qusayr that he vowed to win – win against Sunnis, of course.
To think otherwise is to try hiding the sun with one finger.
Fact is we’re into a second wave of the Arab Spring in Qusayr, but in reverse.
Instead of being between oppositions and regimes, the face-off becomes one between Shiites and Sunnis in order to draw the strategic features of the Arab region for years to come.
The Arab region from hereon will be captive to an ideological clash between Iran-led Shiite supremacy and a Sunni axis comprising Turkey and key Gulf Arab states. Egypt, with a massive Sunni majority (of about 77 million), will remain a bystander.
The Syria war between the Assad army and the opposition showed the former to have serious shortcomings. Its combat capabilities are not what Iran and Hezbollah expected as a backup.
Part of the reasons for Hezbollah and Iran’s intervention is to plug loopholes in the Syrian army and restructure it. But more important is the end result of the three-way Iran-Syria-Hezbollah cooperation in terms of military interoperability (or compatibility in computer parlance).
How would this military coordination between Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces affect Geneva-2 and Assad’s exit?
Judging from Nasrallah’s speech, the Shiites have won -- through Iran – a seat at the Geneva-2 negotiating table.
As regards the agenda, the Shiites would be speaking as the regime’s regional sponsor, backed by an international patron represented by Russia’s Sergei Lavrov.
Sadly, after Nasrallah’s discourse, Syrian regime loyalists and opponents will have no say in Geneva-2. The negotiations will be between the two principals: Russia and America.
At the same time, there will be indirect talks between Iran, as the regime’s regional sponsor, and the opposition’s regional patron represented by Turkey and key Gulf Arab states. No wonder the opposition is headquartered in Istanbul, offsetting Iran’s overt political and military defense of the regime.
Post Nasrallah’s speech, the Geneva-2 scenarios are three:
  1. A roadmap for a transitional government in Syria
  2. A replay of the January 1991 talks between James Baker and Tariq Aziz preceding the war to liberate Kuwait. In that case, the U.S.-European-Arab side would announce the failure of diplomacy and recourse to regime change by force, except there is no appetite for this in the West
  3. The West regurgitates what it used to say regarding the Palestine Question: “Look, we are trying. We don’t like what we’re seeing.” The means the West adopts a moral but apolitical position.
Geneva-2 will most probably get nowhere or maybe reach half-solutions, allowing the Shiite-Sunni war’s opening tactical and symbolic battle to continue in Qusayr.
The battle for Qusayr is Bouzid in reverse.
Post-Qusayr, the battle will not be over control of state authority, such as in the Arab Spring states, but over regional hegemony.
The Arab Spring is accordingly moving backwards to a primitive Sunni-Shiite millennium-old conflict.

Saturday 25 May 2013

U.S. accepts Iran’s participation in Geneva-2

Clockwise from top, Iran's Ali Khamenei, Fabius, Lavrov and Kerry

The United States is said today to have approved the participation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Geneva-2 on Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Russian and French counterparts in Paris on Monday ahead of the expected international conference on Syria.
Kerry and Sergei Lavrov will meet "to continue discussions from their meeting just a few weeks ago in Russia, and provide updates as they plan ahead for the international conference on Syria," a State Department official said in a statement Friday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will also take part in what a Western diplomat said would be a "working dinner" in a restaurant in the French capital.
Russia said on Friday the Damascus regime had agreed "in principle" to participate in international talks that have been dubbed Geneva-2.
The first Geneva meeting, in June 2012, ended in a broad agreement aimed at forming a transition government in Syria.
But the deal was never implemented because it left open the key question of whether President Bashar al-Assad could be part of the transitional government.
Elie Chalhoub, co-founder and managing editor of al-Akhbar daily, which is Iran-Assad-Hezbollah’s mouthpiece in Lebanon, gives this account of Iran joining Geneva-2:
What is noteworthy about the Geneva-2 brouhaha is Iran’s insouciant attitude toward the United States.
Tehran takes her participation in Geneva-2 with much insouciance after receiving word from Russia saying: “We’ve been officially notified that the United States has opted to change its position on Syria.”
Sources in Tehran say the message to Iranian officials came in a briefing by Lavrov on his May 7 meeting with Kerry in Moscow.
According to the note, Kerry told his Russian host: “You have to realize the United States is not like a motorbike, which can make a full 180-degree turnaround from a dead stop. The United States being more like a tractor and a trailer, it can travel through small neighborhoods and narrow streets, perhaps knocking a few structures and stationary cars on the way. But it ultimately makes the u-turn.”
Proof of the message’s authenticity is that the United States has approved Iran’s participation in Geneva-2.
In her column today for Beirut’s independent daily an-Nahar, political analyst Rosanna Boumounsef writes in part:
Lebanese officials have zero hope of Geneva-2 ending the Syria war. They talk from their familiarity with the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war, which plunged the country in internal, regional and international conflicts lasting 15 years. What started as a Christian-Palestinian incident ended as a Christian-Christian war with Arab, international, Israeli and Iranian players joining in-between.
Saying it is a dead duck, the officials compare Geneva-2 on Syria to the fruitless meetings of Lebanese leaders in Geneva and Lausanne 30 years ago.
(In 1983, a meeting in Geneva of representatives from the major Lebanese factions for a national dialogue conference achieved little progress. They were able to agree on only one issue, the Arab identity of Lebanon. When the representatives reconvened in Lausanne in 1984, they were unable to make any further progress.)
The Lebanese civil war did not end before the leaders approved and signed the 1989 Taef Agreement.
Some of the officials also cite the example of peace talks to end the Vietnam War.
The United States and Hanoi agreed to enter into preliminary peace talks in Paris in 1968. However, almost as soon as the talks were started, they stalled. When peace talks resumed in Paris on January 8, 1973, an accord was reached swiftly. The peace agreement was formally signed on January 27, 1973.

Surprise Saudi-Brotherhood alliance sealed

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood have struck a two-barreled deal to bring down the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad and build a new Arab East exclusive of Iran.

The news comes from Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia’s analyst, author and kingpin of the impending Al Arab TV news channel.

He writes today in his weekly column for the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily al-Hayat:

What is happening in Syria is a genuine people’s revolution that the “Muslim Brothers” neither planned nor anticipated. Their being muddle-headed here and there is consequently understandable.
This applies to all the “Brothers,” not only Syria’s “Brothers.”

But the moment of truth has arrived and it requires the “Brothers” to be ready for the day after.
Something crucial to the “Brothers” happened lately. Another happening no less fundamental is coming in the next few days.

What did happen is that Saudi Arabia has at last opened her heart to the “Brothers.”

How this happened is irrelevant. Which side was talked into its importance is also immaterial.

What is cardinal is the move vastly enhances prospects of realizing the joint objective of the Kingdom and the “Brothers” – namely, to bring down the Assad regime and stop the massacre suffered by the Syrian people.

Equally crucial is the two sides’ commitment to an alliance carved in stone to redraw a new Arab East exclusive of Iran and stretching from Shatt al-Arab to the Mediterranean.

The “Brothers” committed to this in the course of meetings held recently in Jeddah.