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Syrian Americans mobilize in L.A. area to support freedom movement in Syria


SETF Los Angeles chapters

(Anaheim, Calif., 6/6/2011) – Some 200 Syrian Americans packed a hall in La

Mirada, Calif., Wednesday to organize their efforts to promote freedom and

democracy in Syria and to stop the Syrian regime’s killing of its citizens

who peacefully protest for their rights.

The town hall meeting was jointly hosted by the Los Angeles chapters of the

Syrian American Council (SAC) and the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).

The organizers said the event was the first time local Syrian Americans,

representing the religious and ethnic diversity in Syria, publicly assembled

to support human rights and democracy in Syria. Previously, fear of the

Assad regime’s reprisals on family members in Syria kept most from speaking

about the issue.

The program included briefings on the situation in Syria and on local

efforts to support the people’s freedom movement in that country, and a

viewing of eyewitness videos of the protests and attacks in Syria to remind

attendees of the urgency of continuing to push for a safe and free Syria.

Presenters also described the recent “Freedom for Syria” day organized by

SAC in Washington, D.C. on May 24, which included meetings with members of

Congress, a protest at the Syrian Embassy, a rally at the White House, and

planning sessions to organize support for the Syrian people.

“As Syrian Americans, we are in a unique position to support the people in

Syria who are bravely marching for their rights even while being attacked,”

said SAC-LA spokesman Nour Douchi. “At the town hall meeting, the room was

full of enthusiasm and passion as local Syrian Americans felt empowered for

the first time to help support democracy and freedom in Syria.

“Our gathering and the efforts that will follow sends a message to the

doubters and Syrian government supporters in this area that the freedom

movement is not afraid to assemble in public,” said SETF-LA Coordinator

Ammar Kahf.

Kahf said attendees pledged to join the local efforts for Syrian freedom,

volunteering to help with public and social media campaigns, meetings with

U.S. government officials, protests, phone and letter-writing campaigns, and

fundraising.

Founded in 2005, the Syrian American Council (SAC) has grown in the wake of

the brutal Syrian government crackdown on its people when they began

demonstrating for freedom and self-determination. Its mission is to mobilize<a

Syrian Americans to strengthen civil society in Syria, to promote friendly

relations between the Syrian and American peoples, to engage civic and

governmental organizations to advance civil liberties and human dignity in

Syria, and to encourage international cooperation based on international law

and justice.

Contact: Nour Douchi (SAC-LA), losangeles@sacouncil.com, 951-444-8344 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            951-444-8344      end_of_the_skype_highlighting; Ammar

Kahf (SETF-LA), ammar@kahf.com, (213) 258-1416

Silent walk for Hamzah and oppressed children around the globe at the White house DC


Hamzah Elkhateeb, a boy of only 13 years, left Aljeezah with his family to join the march to break the siege in Deraa, and was among the unlucky hundreds detained during the massacre of Seda in front of the army barrier. Hamzah’s dead body was later handed over to his family with clear traces of torture – bruises were all over his body, bullets had penetrated his flesh, and worse… his genitals were maimed before he was killed. The following link describes his situation, please be warned that the link contains graphic material:

As human beings, we must all share in the humanitarian identity and celebrate our diversity. We are, after all, citizens of the world regardless of our nationality, race, or religion. We invite you, our fellow global citizens everywhere in the world, to join us on a silent walk for Hamzah and all oppressed children in the world on Sunday June 5, at 1:00pm. 
This day will be dedicated annually for the same cause. 

Event: Silent walk for Hamzah and oppressed children around the globe
Who is invited: Women, Men and Children; Citizens of the World
Where to start: Lafayette park in front of the White house (For those living in DC-Metro area)
When: Sunday June 5.
Time1:00pm, please be there on time
Dress: In white if possible
What to bring: your presence is more than appreciated, no political signs or symbols please
Theme: Hamza you were beloved among your family. Now you reside in the heart of the whole world’s people

 

التعذيب في السجون السورية


A blind eye won’t end repression (Boston Globe) “please help Syria!”


 

 Globe Columnist / June 5, 2011  By Jeff Jacoby

IT WAS the torture of elementary-school students in Deraa that gave momentum to the uprising against Bashar Assad’s brutal regime in Syria. The children, some as young as 10, were picked up by security agents for scrawling antigovernment graffiti on a school wall. When they were released days later, there were cigarette burns on their bodies, and the fingernails had been pulled from their hands. Word of the torture spread, fueling further protest. The government’s response has been a crackdown with appalling new levels of cruelty.

“The stories we hear now are unimaginable in their brutality,’’ a former Syrian intelligence officer who has turned against the regime told The Wall Street Journal recently. “It is not only to deter protesters. They enjoy hurting people for the sake of it.’’ One such victim, a shopkeeper from Homs, was seized after leaving a protest. As described by the Journal, the man was slashed with a scalpel on his back, then stitched up without anesthetic and beaten on the wounds. He was “kept naked and blindfolded in a room packed with detainees and excrement,’’ where he listened to his cousin being burned with a poker, and was told to “kneel in prayer’’ before a portrait of Assad.

Syria, a human-rights hellhole where more than 1,000 protesters have been murdered in recent weeks, is among the “Worst of the Worst’’ — the 17 countries identified by Freedom House as the most repressive societies on earth. Founded in 1941 to promote democratic liberty worldwide, Freedom House publishes annual surveys that show a world notably freer than it was 30 years ago, when the Iron Curtain still stood. But little of that light has penetrated to the nations needing it most.

Three-fourths of the countries included in Freedom House’s “Worst of the Worst’’ have been on the list for more than 25 years. They include North Korea, Somalia, Cuba, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, China, Libya, and Syria. The endurance of those regimes — which perpetuate themselves through violence, fear, and the ruthless persecution of dissent — illustrate, as Freedom House puts it, “the deep entrenchment of the antidemocratic power structures in these countries and the difficulty of influencing them in any meaningful way.’’

But atrocious dictatorships are sustained as well by the willingness of free nations to turn a blind eye to their crimes — or, worse, to make excuses for them. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was justly slammed in March when she labeled Syria’s Assad a “reformer,’’ but Washington’s appeasement of Damascus has long been a bipartisan project. The same is true of the zeal with which Americans and other Westerners seek to “engage’’ other human-rights villains from Beijing to Riyadh. There may be good reasons to do business with the likes of China and Saudi Arabia, but there is never a good reason to deny the moral gulf that separates totalitarian regimes from their subjects — and from us.

The New York Times reported last week on the thriving commerce between the United States and Equatorial Guinea, a tiny African despotism where torture and corruption are rife, and which Freedom House has ranked for decades among the “Worst of the Worst.’’ US oil companies have billions of dollars invested there, a US military contractor provides maritime security and police training, and until March former Bill Clinton aide Lanny Davis even had a million-dollar-a-year deal to improve the image of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the country’s vicious dictator.

Not surprisingly, US diplomats haven’t spoken bluntly about Obiang’s hateful rule. Instead (in diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks) they have praised his “mellowing, benign leadership’’ and advised Washington “to abandon a moral narrative’’ when dealing with Equatorial Guinea.

But refusing to tell the truth about the world’s most evil regimes, as Mario Vargas Llosa argued upon receiving the Nobel Prize for literature last year, only prolongs their brutality.

“Dictatorships must be fought without hesitation, with all the means at our disposal,’’ he said. “It is regrettable that democratic governments, instead of setting an example by making common cause with those, like the Damas de Blanco in Cuba, the Venezuelan opposition, or Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo, who courageously confront the dictatorships they endure, often show themselves complaisant not with them but with their tormenters.

“Those valiant people, struggling for their freedom, are also struggling for ours.’’

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at jacoby@globe.com and followed on Twitter@jeff_jacoby .

Read More at the Boston Globe

Syrian Tanks Move in on City as Thousands Mourn Protesters’ Deaths (New York Times)


 

(New York Times) CAIRO — Syrian tanks took up positions outside the city of Hama on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to mourn the deaths of at least 65 protesters gunned down by security forces there the day before.

The government’s violent crackdown against a three-month-old popular uprising continued, with helicopter gunships killing 10 people in a neighboring province and residents of Hama bracing for a military assault that would be the first on the city since the government bombed it in 1982, killing at least 10,000 people.

With memories of that massacre still vivid, Hama had been slow to join the uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

But on Friday, protesters poured out of mosques and marched in record numbers toward the city’s main square, said a 27-year-old resident who gave his name as Hassan, many carrying roses to give to security forces. Before they reached the square, Al Aasy, security forces opened fire.

“They didn’t warn us with speakers or fire tear gas at us,” Hassan said. “They began shooting directly at us. They wanted to kill all of us, not frighten us back to our homes.”

As the gunshots rang out, clouds of tear gas filled the streets and throngs of protesters scrambled for cover. A few stood their ground and hurled stones at attacking security forces, according to YouTube videos provided by the Local Coordinating Committees in Syria, an activist group documenting the protest movement and the crackdown.

“God is great!” protesters shouted as they pulled one man, shot in the head, into a blood-soaked alley, the constant rattle of gunfire sounding behind them.

So many were treated for gunshot wounds at local hospitals that blood supplies ran low, residents said. Throughout the night, loudspeakers on mosques normally used for calls to prayer urged people to donate blood.

Activists warned that the number of fatalities was likely to rise as bodies were identified. Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said doctors at three hospitals had reported a total of 80 deaths.

On Saturday, funeral processions drew as many as 100,000 mourners into the streets, said Razan Zeitouneh, an activist. That pattern — protest, crackdown, mourning and protest — has been repeated hundreds of times across the Middle East since a season of revolution dawned six months ago in Tunisia, reshaping the region’s political order.

The funerals were “like a protest,” said Abu Abdo, a resident reached by telephone. Security forces were absent from the town and both the police station and the local headquarters of the governing Baath Party were empty, he said. Residents declared a general strike and barricaded the streets out of town with garbage bins, bracing for whatever the government had in store.

“We will continue to protest,” he said. “No more fears.”

By sunset though, dozens of tanks had massed at the city’s southern entrance, said activists from the Coordinating Committees.

The gathering forces have a special, chilling resonance in Hama. In 1982, President Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father, responded to another popular uprising there with a bombardment that leveled much of the town and killed at least 10,000 people.

The name Hama became a warning, seared into the national consciousness as proof of how far the government was willing to go to crush dissent.

Residents were wary of risking a reprise, and protests in Hama have been scattered and slow to gather momentum. But the number of those protesting appears to have swelled recently, with far more taking to the streets on Friday than ever before.

Compared with 1982, the current crackdown has produced far fewer casualties. Still, since the uprising began in mid-March, activists say that more than 1,000 people have been killed, and that the brutality appears to increase week by week as government security forces move from city to city.

“Every week they choose a city to take revenge on,” Ms. Zeitouneh said. “It is Hama’s turn.”

In neighboring Idlib Province on Saturday, Syrian forces used helicopter gunships for the first time. They bombarded the village of Jisr al-Shughour for more than half an hour, killing 10 people and sending dozens of families fleeing to Turkey, activists said.

They also said 50 people were arrested in the coastal city of Baniyas.

In the protests on Friday, the deaths were not confined to Hama. Activists said seven people were killed in Al Rastan; one in Damascus; two in the village of Has in Idlib; two children, ages 13 and 16, in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour; and two children in Dara’a, the southern town that gave birth to the uprising.

Internet service slowly returned to much of Syria on Saturday but remained shut off in Hama, Idlib and Dara’a. The blackout on Friday, which had disabled two-thirds of the country’s Web connections, seemed aimed at strangling the flow of YouTube videos and Twitter and Facebook posts that have fed the revolt. Phone service, water and electricity have also been severely disrupted in many parts of the country, activists said.

The Internet’s partial return allowed activists to compare notes and tally the death toll from protests the previous day, which organizers on Facebook dedicated to the memory of the children killed in the crackdown.

Click Here to read more

Two-Thirds Syrian Internet Shut Down by the Government (International Business Times)


 

(International Business Times) The Syrian government shut down most of its Internet services on Friday as protests against President Bashir al-Assad increased.

According to the Internet monitoring organization Renesys, starting from 6:35 a.m. local time, on Friday, two-thirds of all Syrian networks were suddenly unreachable from the global Internet. “Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table,” the organization said.

On the other hand, Renesys said that the reachable one-third networks belonged to the Syrian government. Renesys’ chief technology officer, James Cowie said “the network prefixes that remain reachable include those belonging to the Syrian government, although many government websites are slow to respond or down.”

“The Oil Ministry is up, for example, and Syrian Telecom‘s official page, but the Ministry of Education is down, as is the Damascus city government page, and the Syrian Customs website”, he noted.

According to the local network of activists in Syria, security forces killed more than 60 people in Hama, and over 50,000 people marched in the city’s largest protest at the same day.

Human rights organization, Amnesty International pointed out that in some North African and Middle Eastern countries, a “critical battle” is happening in the world of Internet and mobile-phone networks.

Renesys updated that around 10 p.m. local time, seven of 40 networks returned and the rest came back after 7 a.m. on Saturday.

 

Click Here to read more

Assad 4th Army Division thugs setting up their victims in Dar’a


WARNING: VIDEO BELOW CARRIES EXTREMELY GRAPHIC IMAGES.

In this extremely graphic video uploaded by YouTube user SYR4ALL four Syrian soldiers survey the dead bodies of at least five men. The video caption says the footage
was shot on the rooftop of Al-Karak mosque in Deraa.

The dead men have all been shot in the head, with pools of blood emptying out from their shattered skulls. Some show multiple gunshot wounds in the head and on their bodies. The four soldiers can be heard joking amongst themselves with one filming the corpses with a cellular phone. The video later cuts to a bigger number of soldiers having gathered at the scene. Their dialogue exchange is unclear.

ANOTHER WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
BELOW.

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click here for a Same Video with English Subtitled
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June 3, 2011 أحداث جمعة أطفال الحرية


القامشلي عامودا مظاهرات جمعة اطفال الحرية 3-6
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3 6 Amoda ALhasakah أوغاريت مظاهرات أطفال عامودا التابعة للجسطة في جمعة أطفال الحرية
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يوم أطفال الحرية
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مظاهرة جمعة اطفال الحرية في بلدة الجيزة
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راس العين مظاهرات جمعة اطفال الحرية 3-6-2011
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فلاش-مظاهرة سري كانيه رأس العين جمعة اطفال الحرية 3-6
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مظاهرات كفرنبل جمعة أطفال الحرية 3/6/2011
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شام – حوران – المسيفرة – جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6 ج1
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شام – جسر الشغور – جمعة أطفال الحرية
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شاهد العيان شريف الخالد من حماه على الجزيره في جمعه اطفال الحريه
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شام – حوران – مظاهرات جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6 ج4
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شام – عامودا – مظاهرات جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6 ج3
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شاهد العيان احمد حسين من حماه على الجزيره للمرة الثانية في جمعه اطفال الحريه
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شام – حلب – إعزاز – جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6
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شام – عامودا – مظاهرات جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6 ج2
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شام – حوران – مظاهرات جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6-11 ج3
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جسر الشغور مظاهرات جمعة اطفال الحرية 3-6ج2
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حمص باب دريب اطلاق نار جمعة اطفال الحرية 3-6
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سوريا المجد حوران بصرى الشام جمعة أطفال الحرية 3 6 2011م
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القامشلي جمعة اطفال الحرية3 6
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مظاهرات كفرنبل جمعة أطفال الحرية 3_6_2011_6_3_2011
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شام – حوران – مظاهرات جمعة أطفال الحرية 3-6 ج4
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3 6 Ezaz Aleppo أوغاريت إعزاز حلب مظاهرات جمعة أطفال الحرية ج1
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حماة || شاهد عيان ثاني من أمام مشفى الحوراني || 03.06.2011 Hama
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تحذير صور مخيفة. : الفيديو ينقل أدناه الصور مخيفة للغاية.
في هذا الفيديو تم الرفع بواسطة الرسوم البيانية للغاية جنود المستخدم يوتيوب أربعة SYR4ALL المسح السوري على جثث ما لا يقل عن خمسة رجال. وشرح فيديو يقول وصورت تلك اللقطات على سطح مسجد الكرك في درعا.

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المحتجون السورييون يدفنون الموتى في حماةJune 4, 2011
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عناصر النظام السوري و عصاباته أمام المتظاهرين السلميين في مدينة حماة في جمعة أطفال الحرية


سورية: الاقتراب من “نقطة اللاعودة” روسيا والعالم العربي


سورية: الاقتراب من “نقطة اللاعودة

تقترب الاضطرابات في سوريا على ما يبدو، من “نقطة اللاعودة”. فان سعة التمرد تتنامى باطراد، اذ عمت الاضطرابات وفعاليات الاحتجاج ما يقارب 100 مركزسكاني كبير ومتوسط وصغير في البلد، وبصورة اساسية في الشمال وعلى ساحل البحر الابيض المتوسط. وتجري المظاهرات في عدد منها علاوة على ذلك، في الليل والنهار.

وعندما نتحدث عن “نقطة اللاعودة”، نقصد بالمرتبة الاولى، احتمال تطور الاحداث بالشكل، الذي لا يتسنى فيه وقف الاحتجاجات “بالاصلاحات”. وعلى ما يبدو، ان هذا ما يجري تقريبا.

 اين الاسد؟

حتى وقت كتابة هذه المقالة لم تشاهد الجماهير الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد منذ ما يقارب 10 ايام. ويجري في غضون ذلك تناقل شائعات بانه تعرض الى جلطة دماغية، واصيبت يده اليسرى بالشلل. ومهما كان هذا صحيحا او لا، فانه اخذ يفقد وسائل السيطرة على الوضع، دون ان يستوعب بكل جلاء ما ينيغي عمله. وقد فشلت فكرة “الحوار الوطني، واعترفت السلطات بهذا في الحقيقة، رسميا: اذ حل الرئيس السوري بمرسوم لجنة الحوار الوطني. وفي هذا الوضع تنتقل كافة السلطات، على ما يبدو، الى قادة مؤسسات القوة السورية برئاسة ماهر الاسد، شقيق الرئيس السوري، الذي  يعتمد بحذق كبير في اختيار تكتيك عدم الخطأ، على اسلوب التنكيل فقط. وتجدر الاشارة علاوة على ذلك الى ان تكتيك التخويف الذي يستخدمه العسكريون، يعتبر اعترافا بفقدان السيطرة على الوضع ولا عودة. فاما اغراق المحتجين بالدماء، واما الغرق ذاتيا في هذه الدماء. وان اعادة المشاركين في المظاهرات المشوهين الى اقربائهم كوسيلة تخويف، مجرد يولد موجة احتجاج جديدة. وتكون علاوة على ذلك، بشكل لا يسمح بان يكون هناك نتيجتها حل وسط مع السلطات، وبالتالي لا يمكن ان يدور الحديث بتعريفه حول اي حوار وطني. وستتمخض كل هذه الاحداث موضوعيا اما عن سقوط نظام الاسد، واما عن ممارسة تنكيل جماعي ضد السكان، ترغم الغرب والمجتمع الدولي على ازالة هذا النظام حسب السيناريو الليبي.

 انقسام العلويين

 وعلى خلفية هذا العارض المفجع للنظام اخذت تنشأ حالات انقسام في النخبة العلوية، لان منطق الاحداث يبرز في جدول العمل قضية ـ ما هو اثمن:  الابقاء على تواجد العلويين في السلطة والاقتصاد (ليس في الحجوم السابقة بالطبع)، او الفراغ التام. ويتحدث عن هذا بالتحديد اكثم بركات، العلوي احد رموز المعارضة السورية. ويتمسك بنفس الموقف، حسب معلوماته، مايقارب 40 ضابطا علويا من المراتب العليا والمتوسطة، الذين يرفضون المشاركة اكثر في اعمال التنكيل.

ويؤكد ضابط علوي آخر، فر الى تركيا، ان الفرقة الرابعة التي تحت قيادة ماهر الاسد وكان يخدم فيها، هي الوحدة العسكرية الوحيدة عمليا التي تشارك بنشاط في قمع الانتفاضة. واما قيادتا الفرقتين الثالثة والخامسة فانهما ترفضان المشاركة في هذه الفعاليات او تتمسكان بموقف سلبي. وتجدر الاشارة الى ان خسائر الفرقة الرابعة هذه 700 فرد. ورغم تأكيدات الضباط الفارين بان الجميع اعدموا لرفضهم المشاركة في قمع الانتفاضة، تبدو رواية مصرع قسم منهم في الصدامات مع المتظاهرين قريبة الى الحقيقة اكثر.

واذا كان هذا صحيحا، فان نظام دمشق سيقع في دوامة سياسية. وخير مؤشر على هذا ايضا، واقعة بدء السلطات السورية بحملة تبرعات غير رسمية بين رجال الاعمال السوريين الكبار “لدعم الجيش والمخابرات في مواجهة المتمردين”.

العامل الايراني

على هذه الخلفية يتزايد في سورية التواجد الايراني. فيعيش في احد فنادق حي السيدة زينب في ضواحي دمشق ومنذ فترة معينة، خبراء من فيلق حرس الثورة الايرانية، الذين ينقلون خبرة التصدي للاضطرابات الجماهيرية الى نظرائهم السوريين. ويؤكد شهود عيان ان ايرانيين يشاركون في استجواب المعارضين المعتقلين. وان سلوك ايران هذا على العموم ليس استثنائيا.

ففي بداية مايو/ايار من السنة الجارية جرى لقاء بين الرئيس الايراني محمد احمدي نجاد والمرشد آية الله علي خامنئي، انتقد الرئيس الايراني بشدة خلاله وزارة المخابرات الايرانية (اطلاعات) على عملها الفاشل في الآونة الاخيرة. وبالتحديد جرى تذنيب رئيس المخابرات حيدر مصلحي بالفشل في “كسب منافع” من اضطرابات البحرين وعمان، وكذلك باخفاقات الشبكة الجاسوسية في الكويت. واختلف مصلحي مع الرئيس الايراني برفضه القيام بغارة على سفارة المملكة السعودية في طهران، والقنصلية السعودية في مشهد. ورغم اتفاقه مع حجج احمدي نجاد، رفض خامنئي عزل مصلحي. وللعدالة، أن النقمة التي تعرض لها قادة المخابرات السابقين القريبين من خامنئي، ترتبط مع ذلك، بانتخابات عام 2012 المرتقبة، وبالصراع على السلطة بين مختلف شرائح النخبة الايرانية اكثر من الاخفاقات الفعلية. وفي ظل هذه الظروف تبقى سورية  بالنسية لطهران النقطة الاساسية لبذل الجهود، ويلعب الدور الاساسي هنا بالمناسبة فيلق حرس الثورة الاسلامية وليس وزارة الاستخبارات.

هذا وتتمسك تركيا على هذه الخلفية بموقف حذر اكثر. فرغم انتقادات رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب اردوغان لاساليب السلطات السورية، تقوم انقره باصرار مع ذلك، باقناع شركائها في الناتو”بعدم التدخل في الوضع في سورية”. وعلى ما يبدو تم سماع هذه النداءات، لان القيادة العسكرية العليا للحلف تؤكد في المحادثات غير الرسمية في كل مرة على “عدم تطبيق السيناريو الليبي في سورية”. وعلى الاقل حاليا.

 

يوري شيغلوفين ـ معهد الشرق الاوسط

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