Micah Halpern’s Thoughts for The Week
Wednesday May 15, 2013
It is as gruesome as it was extremely effective. Abu Sakkar, the head of the Syrian rebel unit called Farouk Brigade, is on video cutting open the chest of an Assad fighter.
Abu Sakkar slashes the rib bone and skin and then cuts out the heart, lifts it in the air, and says I will "eat your hearts." Then Abu Sakkar takes a bite.
This is a particularly brutal unit of fighters. And they are not thought to be Islamist, Marxist or secularist. They are just known to be extremely brutal.
The message is very clear. Everyone in the field knows what is at stake - and outsider should not misread the field. Both sides in this battle for Syria are grotesquely brutal.
I expect that this video will be countered with other, even more brutal, butchery carried out by the Assad camp.
Tuesday May 14, 2013~~
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just returned from China. And today he is off on a very quick trip to Moscow where he will meet with Vladimir Putin.
On this trip only a few aides will join him. His wife and driver, part of his usual entourage, will not be traveling along on this one.
The purpose of the trip is to try to stop Putin from supplying Syria with missiles. Which missiles is still yet unknown. Russia has already delayed the delivery of certain weapons. But Israel would obviously prefer that the deals all be cancelled.
How does Russia justify their selling weapons to Syria? Simple, they want to prevent what happened in Libya from happening in Syria. In Libya, if you recall, a no fly zone called by the United States was used to justify ousting Ghadaffi.
With these weapons it would be very difficult for the United States to fly and attack. Obviously it would also be hard for Israel to fly over Syria and attack. But that does not concern Russia.
Russia wants to help make certain that Syria remains secure and that Assad stays in position without external forces invading. That is their bottom line.
Netanyahu will have to use every diplomatic trick and economic incentive he has to persuade Russia to back off on supplying these missiles to Syria.
~~Monday May 13, 2013~~
Russia and the US are planning an international conference about Syria. Their objective is to bring the conflict to an end.
The Syrian government in exile, known as the Opposition, is not certain that they will attend. They have been plagued with problems despite succeeding in electing a prime minister, Ghassan Hitto.
The Opposition will meet in 10 days in Turkey to discuss, debate and decide whether they will or will not attend. The reality is that despite their name, Opposition members will have no power in the meeting and no ability to garner power within Syria. And yet - they still may be given control by the United States. Ceremonial, figure head control rather than actual political and military.
Iran has announced that they are in favor of the international meeting and would volunteer to be the intermediary between the regime and the rebels. The problem with that gracious suggestion is that Iran has not been invited to the conference.
The United States does not want Iran at the conference. But in reality, it is Iran - not the United States - together with Russia that really has the power to broker a deal in Syria.
Sunday May 12, 2013
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today that the death toll in Syria has topped 80,000.
That 80,000 number should not come as a surprise. The Observatory is a British based pro-rebel - anti regime group.
According to the report, half of those killed have been civilians.
Now the math gets important. Of the 40,000 non civilians killed almost all have been rebels. Take away 10% of that number and you have 4,000 regime soldiers killed in the conflict. That means that 36,000 rebel fighters have been killed.
That is, if the 40,000 number is correct. Whatever the exact number is, many more rebels have been killed than regime soldiers. And that continues to be the case. Intelligence sources say that several thousand foreign fighters cross the border into Syria every month replacing the several thousand that were killed.
To prove the point of The New York Times ran a picture of a Chinese rebel fighting against the regime.
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