Syrian Revolution Daily Round-up: Tues. 12-Mar-13

Fighting rages in Damascus as regime calls up reserve personnel
Cloud of smoke billowing from the neighborhood of Jobar seen from the heart of Damascus
Today’s Top Stories
  • Tensions spiked in Damascus as heavy clashes broke out between pro and anti-regime militiamen.
  • The Syrian army declared ”state of general alert”, more Russian citizens evacuated.
  • Rebels bombed a checkpoint in Idlib city and made new gains in Deir Azzour.
Today’s Top Videos
  • Kafrnbouda, Hama: Civilians take refuge in caves and graves fleeing the regime’s indiscriminate shelling
  • Sinaa, Deir Azzour: Rebel fighters storm the technical institute, P2
  • Heish, Idlib: Regime warplane drops ordnances on the village causing massive explosions
Today’s Statistics
  • Total Death Toll: 150
  • Opposition Death Toll: 75 including 6 women, 3 children and 20 rebel fighters (Damascus and Suburbs: 23, Aleppo: 17, Homs: 13, Daraa: 12, Hama: 7, Qunaitra: 1, Hasaka: 1, Latakia: 1)
  • Regime Soldiers  & Militiamen Death Toll: +75
  • Number of areas shelled: +276
  • Number of People Wounded: +60
  • Number of People Detained: +25
  • FSA Key Operations:
    • Stormed a school and hospital in Deir Azzour city.
    • Bombed a military checkpoint in Idlib city.
    • Stormed several checkpoints in the suburbs of Daraa and Aleppo.
    • Seized control of the Hasaka suburb of Tal Barrak.

Summary of Events

Fighting raged in the north of Damascus between rebel fighters and pro-regime militia, as regime declared the state of general alert and Russia evacuated more of its citizens.

Regime militiamen, known as Popular Committees, coming from the mainly Alawite neighborhood of Ush al-Warwar, northeast of Damascus and backed by regime forces, launched a ground assault on the nearby neighborhood of Barzeh where they faced fierce resistance by the rebels who managed to pushed them back. This came as both sides exchanged mortar fire from within their neighborhoods, causing several casualties from both

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Implications of Military Intervention in Syria

Although military action in Syria would carry some risks, not intervening in the face of the regime’s now fully revealed violent and repressive nature carries its own dangers.

The debate regarding military intervention in Syria will likely grow in the coming weeks given the regime’s continued violence, the end of NATO intervention in Libya, and the rise of armed opposition fueled by defections from regime forces. Despite the emotional weight of these and other factors, however, any discussion of intervention must be informed by serious consideration of the key issues involved in the employment of military force: namely, the ends, means, and risks involved.

The Need for Clear Goals

Any military action in Syria should have clear, realistic objectives. A minimal goal would be to establish some measure of protection for the Syrian population, which is currently at high risk. Another goal could be to give the opposition the ability to militarily engage regime forces. At present, the regime has a virtual free hand in acting against the opposition. A more ambitious goal could be outright defeat of Bashar al-Asad, with foreign forces intervening alone or in cooperation with opposition elements. Whichever goals are chosen, they should be clearly understood and agreed upon by those participating in the intervention.

In addition, the goals must be reasonably achievable with the forces available and within a politically viable timeframe (i.e., weeks or months, not years). They must also be legitimately based on the interests of the Syrian people, not merely or even primarily on the needs of the intervening parties. Failure to establish clear, attainable, and legitimate goals prior to intervention could lead to political and public opposition, “mission creep,” defections from the intervention camp, and irresolution in the face of setbacks and crises.

Assessing Capabilities

An intervention decision should also rest …

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EU Imposes New Sanctions on the Syrian Oil Sector

The EU reinforced its sanctions against the Syrian oil sector today when it added several governmental oil trade and oil-field discovery entities to its sanctions list. The new sanctions will target the General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) and Syria Trading Oil (Sytrol), in addition to 9 more entities and 12 regime figures. Royal Dutch Shell announced it will pull out of the GPC joint venture Al Furat Petroleum Company, and added it will suspend all its activities in Syria. On the other hand, France’s Total SA oil, which produces three times more oil than Shell used to in Syria, continues to operate in a joint venture with Syrian Petroleum Co (SPC). SPC, an affiliate of GPC and Sytrol, is the last major Syrian company that needs to be targeted to efficiently cut off Syria’s dwindling supply of foreign reserves used to buy arms and finance mercenaries. Many reports of the regime’s inability to make due on payments to oil companies have already surfaced.

The EU has imposed sanctions on the Syrian oil sector in September, but those were only partially applied due to pressures from Italy. The new European sanctions come within the framework of new joint-efforts and coordination between the EU, US, and Arab League, to pressure the Assad regime.

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Damascus Volcano Erupts, What’s Next?

In response to the escalating massacres that followed the suspension of the UNSC Observers mission, Free Syrian Army (FSA) Joint Command official spokesman, General Qassem Saad Eddin, announced the commencement of the Damascus Volcano operation to bring the fight to the regime’s doors in the capital. The operation was initiated on a limited scale; however, it expanded after the third day when most of the rebels and militias of the capital and surrounding areas joined the fight, triggering hundreds of defections that empowered the ranks of revolutionaries.

Regime forces deployed Republican Guard units in the capital and shelled many central neighbourhoods with helicopters, while heavy clashes were reported all over the capital. State-run media outlets reported the news of the assassination of members of the cell tasked with tackling the revolution in an explosion that targeted their meeting hall today. However, the demise of the members of the cell was confirmed late May, and the announcement came only to justify the shelling of the capital, and to urge pro-regime sectarian militias to take to the streets. Pro-regime militias did answer the call and have started attacking civilians in anti-Assad neighbourhoods; more than 34 civilians so far.

The news of the Damascus skirmishes has already caused hundreds of defections all over the country. If the rebels possess enough ammunition to carry on the fight for a couple more weeks, the Assad regime might just be toppled solely due to the landslide defections taking place all over the country. The regime is expected to intensify and escalate its military operations and militia committed massacres with the coming of the month of Ramadan, which will see an escalation of revolutionary activities.

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Syria’s Chemical Weapons; A Real Concern?

With the collapse of the Assad regime drawing nigh, regional power brokers are rallying to secure the new threat of chemical and biological weapons falling into the wrong hands; whether they be inexperienced militias, Islamist radicals, or Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations sponsored by the regime. The Assad regime has been stockpiling chemical and biological weapons since the 1970s, and is believed to possess large quantities of sarin nerve gas, Tabon gas, VX gas and mustard blister agent, along with medium-range chemical warheads (SCUD B and C), artillery shells, and Ballistic missiles (SS 21) capable of carrying the chemical warheads, stored in over 37 facilities across the country. The regime has also at least four chemical weapon production facilities located in the cities of Homs, Hama, Latakia, Palmyra and al-Safira, and two storage depots in the towns of Khan Abu Shamat and Furqlus.

Activists have reported on several different incidents the regime’s use of chemical weapons against the rebels, but nothing more seems to be known about the regime’s intentions in dealing with its stockpile. Neighboring countries such as Jordan and Israel fear the regime might transport its chemical weapons to Hezbollah, as it already did with many of its missile stockpiles. On the other hand, the International Community led by the US and the Gulf fear the weapons might fall into the wrong hands that would utilize them for terrorist attacks. The International Community could cooperate with the Free Syrian Army commands to secure the chemical weapons stockpiles. The UNSC monitors could also help supervise or at least intermediate with the defected soldiers and rebels to secure the stockpiles.

For more information or commentary, please contact:

Ausama Monajed, Executive Director of Strategic Research & Communication Centre, Email: monajed@strescom.org

Muhanad Alhasani, Esq., Board Member of Strategic Research and Communication Centre, …

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Assessment of Syrian Energy Sanctions

A report outlining analysis of the Syrian Integrated Energy Supply System and recommending targeted energy sanctions and its impact in order to weaken the Assad regime.

This report outlines the Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the Syrian Integrated Energy Supply System and recommends targeting energy sanctions to further weaken the Assad regime. The report also assesses the socioeconomic impact and the effectiveness of the policy recommendations of a proposed imposition of a Syria-specific energy sanctions. The report is prepared by SRCC Energy Team and edited by Ausama Monajed.

Background

The Assad regime exports an estimated 148,000 bpd. There are two main grades, Syrian Light and Soweidie. Currently all exports are of the Soweidie grade since local refineries need Syrian Light to process for products for the domestic market. The technical specifications of Soweidie are worth noting as they affect consideration of sanctions. Oil revenues account for about a third of the regime’s income and are the main resource for financing the repressive organs of the Assad who employs over a quarter of a million security personnel. If the regime is to be hurt, its financial body should be targeted, as the absence of money equals the absence of hired mercenaries and thugs. The regime has been suffering financial difficulties since the start of the revolution. The Assad regime has no sufficient foreign reserves to withstand the effects of oil sanctions for a number of months as it is already facing problems feeding internal need due to the usage of gas by the heavy armored units utilized to suppress the demonstrators.

Executive Summary

The regime’s exports are all handled by Sytrol, the state monopoly company. Relatively few refineries are adapted to handle crude grades as sour and heavy as the Syrian grade. It is shipped through Aframax tankers

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Reform Policies of the Syrian Penal System

Policy paper addresses the weaknesses of the penal system since the Baath Party came to power in Syria. It proposes penal reform according to the international conventions on human rights.

The penal system is of paramount importance as a result of its direct impact not only on the rights, freedom, dignity, and physical and mental welfare of citizens, but also on the security, progression and development of society.

Any penal policy must take equal account of both the rights of the citizen and the higher interest of society. The current penal policy in Syria neglects the primary purpose of punishment, which is two-fold: rehabilitation and deterrence.

The weakening of the independence of the judiciary, the reinforcing of the immunity of security agencies and the misguided penal policy – together with the concomitant violation of citizens’ dignity and the increasing sense of injustice – have played the largest part in the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. Drastic measures must be taken at the political, legislative and practical levels, with a particular focus on the eradication of legal provisions which violate freedoms and human rights. Moreover, pertinent legislation must be enacted which recognises the importance of reinforcing oversight of the observance and application of such laws.

One of the priorities of the transitional period will be to uphold international law and to formulate penal policies and legislation that complies with the international conventions on human rights. This derives from the fact that the supremacy of international law over domestic law is considered to be one of the most fundamental international principles, and has long been explicitly acknowledged before the United Nations committees by governments party to such conventions, including the Syrian government. Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stipulates that “A party may not invoke the provisions …

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Restructuring Judicial System in Future Syria

This policy research proposes a set of policy recommendations to the transitional government in Syria to guide the judicial apparatus in the proper direction towards a comprehensive reform.

The subject matter of this policy paper is that of systematic policies for the radical reform of the judiciary in Syria, in order to promote the success of the historic process of change underway in the country. The Syrian people are driving this process in the direction of the establishment of a democratic civil state. The study reviews the most significant obstacles hindering Syria’s judiciary, commencing with the numerousness of the bodies exercising justice, the intervention in its affairs, the weakness of its neutrality, the absence of respect for its decisions and the backward nature of laws which erect a stumbling block before the judiciary with regards to the exercising of its role in realising justice, preserving stability and social peace, and absorbing societal tensions.

This study proposes a set of policies which the transitional government must follow if it is to guide the judicial apparatus in the proper direction towards a comprehensive reform that guarantees its actual and practical independence from the executive and legislative authorities. It stresses that judicial oversight of the actions of the legislature and executive plays an important role in protecting individuals and groups from arbitrariness and abuses, in reducing transgressions, and in providing justice as a guarantee of truth on the basis of equality. It is widely accepted that the independence and neutrality of the judiciary constitute both a fundamental indicator of a sound climate for economic growth and a spur for the promotion of investment.

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Electoral System in Future Syria

This policy paper provides a roadmap for electoral reforms necessary to set Syria on the path to democratisation. A proposed electoral model for Syria should build upon elements of democratic models of government, voting, party and state systems.

Syrian authorities responded to widespread anti-government protests with overwhelming military force. The internal conditions in Syria will continue to deteriorate, but what is now certain is that the Assad regime would eventually collapse. These developments mean that Syrian opposition groups must begin negotiating clear state-building strategies in preparation for Assad’s fall. A post-Assad roadmap needs to be drafted as soon as possible to would prevent the country from sliding into a civil war or collapsing into a spiral of chaos.

As part of a roadmap, opposition groups led by the Syrian National Council must work together on drafting a one-year plan for a realistic democratic transition and electoral reforms, during which elections at all levels would take place and a new constitution would be drafted paving the way for a parliamentary democracy. A reform plan must guarantee basic freedoms, denounce sectarianism and violence, protect human and minority rights, and ensure the rule of law – this requires the state to be based on the separation of legislative, executive and judicial power.

To avoid becoming a failed state with enduring ethnic and religious divides, a proposed electoral model for Syria should build upon certain elements of democratic models of government, voting, party, and state systems. This requires careful institutional engineering to create a functioning multi-ethnic democracy that allows competitive elections across ethnic boundaries without discriminating against any members of Syrian society. To ensure its success, the Syrian electoral model should therefore be tailored to the intricate composition of the Syrian society.

This paper concludes by providing a vision on how the transition will …

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Syria’s Electoral Reforms: Myths and Facts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Syrian people need to reject the new constitution because it comes from the point of lost political and moral legitimacy, it comes under continuous violence, and it does not fit Syria’s future.

In an attempt to “calm” the uprising, Bashar Assad ‘conceded’ to some of the demands of the opposition. However, his attempts were either too little, too late, or too vague. In May 2011, he agreed to lift the Emergency Law which has effectively suspended most constitutional protections for citizens since 1963. But that did not stop Assad’s security apparatus from referring civilians to state security courts and targeting citizens who were protesting peacefully. Likewise, in October 2011, Assad asked a committee to prepare constitutional amendments that would bring in democratic reforms to the country. The amendments were finalized and put to a popular referendum on 26 February 2012. An election held in May 2012 was called a “sham” by the revolutionaries installed new members of parliament.

On the one hand, Assad sees the new constitution as the key element in a reform process, and says it will make Syria a beacon of democracy in the region. On the other hand, the opposition has boycotted the vote, calling it a farce and demanded Assad to step down. The new constitution calls for multi-party parliamentary elections within three months, which would replace the old monopoly of power enjoyed by the ruling Baath Party. One year ago, this would have appeared revolutionary, but today, activist and opposition groups have dismissed it as a sham, pointing out that the regime ignored many elements of the old constitution, which guaranteed personal and political freedoms and banned torture.

But there are more reasons for the opposition and activists to be sceptical of the …

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