December 9, 2013

Updates On Syria [12.9] Assad's Troops Make Advances In Strategic Border Town Near Lebanon, Syrian Opposition Remains Divided Ahead of Geneva II, World Powers Behind Geneva II Aim To Sideline Kurds

1. An excerpt from, "Fierce clashes in key Syria border town" Al Arabiya News, December 8:
Syrian government forces made advances on Sunday in the town of al-Nabk, one of the last rebel-held areas in Qalamoun region bordering Lebanon, a watchdog said.

“There is fierce fighting in al-Nabk between government forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, and al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, according to Agence France-Presse.

President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have taken “new sectors of the town,” said the monitor, which sources its information from field-based activists and medics.

Assad’s forces have encircled and bombarded the town, which lies northeast of the capital Damascus, for the past two weeks.

“The Syrian army is continuing to rake orchards in al-Nabk, and has discovered a terrorist [a reference to rebel groups] lair containing medical equipment and drugs,” state television said, as quoted by AFP.
Assad is heading to Geneva after regaining much of the territory that he lost. Not a bad way to start negotiations. 

2. An excerpt from, "Syria opposition says final decision on peace talks mid-December" AFP, December 8:
A key member of the Syrian opposition said today a "final" decision to attend or boycott a UN-backed peace conference dubbed Geneva 2 would be taken later this month.

The National Coalition, an opposition umbrella group increasingly at odds with rebels on the ground, has previously said it would attend the Geneva talks slated for January 22 but with conditions.

Crucially, it insists that President Bashar al-Assad play no role in Syria's future -- a demand strongly rejected by Damascus.

"A final decision will be taken during a meeting of the Coalition in mid-December in Istanbul," opposition member George Sabra told AFP in the Qatari capital, Doha.

However he added that there was no certainty the conference would go ahead.

"I have doubts that the conference will take place," said Sabra, who heads the Syrian National Council (SNC), the largest member of the National Coalition.
This Syrian opposition member thinks he can lead a successful revolution against a popular government led by Assad from Istanbul and Doha. LOL. What arrogance and foolishness. Syrian exiles naively believe they can take over a country from abroad when they have no real popular base inside the country. There is the problem right there. George Sabra and all the other members of the official, Western-sponsored opposition are detached from the realities on the ground. They're living in la-la land, issuing demands as if they have the Syrian people on their side.

Sabra heads the Syria National Council, which is part of the Syrian National Coalition. All these councils and coalitions, too numerous to mention, have no real power. They are not serious because they don't speak for anyone inside Syria. What the Syrian opposition needs, if it is serious about reaching its goals, is a strong ruler, someone with the authority, charisma, and majesty of a true king, and unite under him. Otherwise, they'll just be fighting pointless battles after pointless battles and achieve nothing but destruction for themselves and for Syria.

3. An excerpt from, "Syrian Kurds discuss differences over Geneva II" by Wladimir van Wilgenburg, Al Monitor, December 8:
On Nov. 26, Leyla Zana, a popular Kurdish politician of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) from Turkey visited the Kandil Mountains in Iraq — the main base of PKK fighters — and Barzani in Erbil, to mediate between the two sides. The KDP confirmed that they discussed the Syrian Kurdish issue.

However, the pro-PYD Hawar News Agency published an article suggesting that even Russia and other countries might not side with the PYD and sideline the PYD in the conference.

“The USA, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Iran and the KDP are on the same page. This coalition does not accept real Kurdish participation at the 'Geneva II' meetings or that the Kurdish issue be on the agenda as a separate heading.”

BDP co-chair Gultan Kisanak told Al-Monitor at a Dec. 4-5 Kurdish conference in Brussels that the BDP supports Kurdish unity. “Our official position is that Kurds should take part in Geneva II separately as part of the Supreme Kurdish Council.” She added, “It is very vital that Kurds are represented there, since neither the regime nor the opposition is ready to meet Kurdish demands. That’s why it's important.”
4. An excerpt from, "Kurdish autonomy demand will disrupt Geneva II: Syrian opposition" Turkish Weekly, December 4:
A leading member of Syria's opposition coalition has warned that if calls for an autonomous Kurdish region in a federal Syria were to be floated during the upcoming Geneva II conference this would have the effect of disrupting talks.

Broaching the issue would "cause confusion," which would only serve the interest of the Bashar al-Assad government, Hisham Marwa, a member of the legal committee of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, told Anadolu Agency.

Syrian Democratic Union Party leader Saleh Moslem said he hoped to raise the issue at the Geneva II conference, due to be held next month.

"We want to go to Geneva II with one objective in mind: bringing down the Assad regime," Marwa said. "After that, all other problems can be sorted out through national dialogue."

"Establishing an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria should be determined at the ballot boxes not by one section of the Syrian people," he asserted.
Hisham Marwa of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is delusional if he believes the PYD, the main party that represents the Kurds in Syria and is connected to the PKK in Turkey, trusts the official, Western-sponsored Syrian opposition to fairly manage the country's affairs in a post-Assad era. And the Kurds in Syria do not view themselves as "one section of the Syrian people," but as a distinct people with their own identity, culture, and history, so it is impossible to move forward in Syria with this fundamental misunderstanding and misreading of the situation.

And did he seriously mention ballot boxes? What world is he living in? With all these guns flying around in Syria you can say goodbye to the ballot box for the next decade. For a comparison, look at Libya. Arms and fighting will decide the future of Syria, including the fate of the Kurds, not ballot boxes. That is the reality.