Bashar al Assad is a huge fan of the Electric Light Orchestra.

The New Lion of Damascus is book about Bashar al Assad by American academic David Lesch.

Lesch is sympathetic to Assad.

Lesch states that Bashar impresses people with his “politeness, his humility and his simplicity”

“He played soccer with neighbourhood children, ping-pong with his father, and his friends’ mothers came home to chat and cook meals with his mother Anisa.”

Lesch sees Bashar al-Asad as a “combination of computer nerd, ophthalmologist, devoted family man, westernized pop-culturist, outgoing and caring friend, humble and reluctant leader…”

Patrick Seale’s Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East is also sympathetic towards Bashar.

Asma, Bashar’s wife, grew up in London, and worked as a banker at JP Morgan.

Her father is a Sunni Muslim.

Asma has immersed herself in social work.

Hafed al Assad (right) the father of Bashar. 
But what about Bashar’s father?
From 1976 to 1982, Islamists carried out a terrorist campaign against the secular ‘reformist’ government of Syria.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s violence included bomb attacks and the targeting of government officials.
In 1982, in Hama, Islamists attacked people “while sleeping in their homes and killed whomever they could kill of women and children, mutilating the bodies of the martyrs in the streets, driven, like mad dogs, by their black hatred.”
The security forces then “rose to confront these crimes.”
It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood has been described as being a tool of the CIA and MI6.

©Alexandra De Borchgrave/Liaison. Bashar (on swing) in 1974 with his father Hafez, brother Majd and sister Bushra. 
And what of Bashar?
According to the Financial Times’s Roula Khalaf, Bashar “built relationships with businessmen eager for change to the socialist economy, and with political activists hungry for a whiff of freedom of expression.
“Bashar al-Assad became a vociferous critic of bureaucratic corruption and those he recommended were placed in key positions in government.”

According to the Financial Times’s Roula Khalaf, when Bashar became president “political prisoners were released and discussion forums thrived” in what became known as the Damascus Spring.

“Technocrats were brought into the government, as were European advisors to help reform the administration.”

Israel sees Syria as a supporter of the Palestinians and as an opponent of Israel’s plans for a Greater Israel.

Bashar’s problem is that the USA decided, well before 9 11, that it was going to bring about regime change in several countries, including Syria.

General Wesley Clark said the aim of this plot (to destroy the governments in Syria, Libya etc) was this: “They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.”

Why the US Wants Regime Change in Syria – Dr Stuart Jeanne …

The CIA and its friends presumably have a number of assets in Syria, including people within the security forces.
The CIA and its friends began their attack in 2010.
On March 15 2010, the tribes in Dera’a, the southern province, sparked the Syrian revolution with mass protests.
Bashar and Sarkozy

In 2010, Bashar dined at France’s Elysée Palace and was courted by John Kerry; Asma mingled with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Al Qaeda in Syria.

The US-Israel-NATO plan is to ensure that all successful, moderate Moslem countries are wrecked, by being handed over to Islamists.


Greek Reporter Documenting the Slide from First World To Third World Status

“We Are Moving from Being a Western Country to a Third-World Country” Latest News from Greece

Extreme political uncertainty, rampant corruption, queues forming at soup kitchens, and aid from non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—all these are more commonly associated with countries still developing Western-style economies.

“We are moving from being a Western country to a poor country,” George Protopapas, national director of international charity SOS Children’s Villages, told CNBC.
“I’m worried that it’s going to be like Ceausescu’s Romania or Bulgaria in the early 1990s.”

Of course, the concept of the Third World, which dates from the Cold War, is dismissed by many as outdated. There is no universal concept for how to label developing and developed countries as development is not always a linear process.

What really differentiates Greece from struggling developing countries is its large, well-educated middle class and cultural identification with the West.

It’s difficult to sit in Syntagma Square—the central Athens square that is home to the Greek parliament, with its exclusive hotels and shops—and see Greece regressing. Yet many of the people in suits chatting on their iPhones have had their pay slashed in the past year, and there are few shops that are busy.

Greece itself, with its strange mixture of capitalism and socialism, was always one of the least developed of the European Union countries. There are many now who argue that it should never have been allowed to join the euro at all. It is often mentioned as the country where the foundations of modern democracy were laid millennia ago, yet ironically, its current democracy is less than four decades old.

Greece’s 20th-century development was notoriously hampered by political upheaval, including a fascist dictatorship, an army-led coup, and a period of occupation by Nazi Germany.  It is the memory of this too-recent occupation that is sparking opposition to the external forces such as the ones the Troika have been trying to implement into Greek policy.

After recent stringent cuts as part of the bailout, non-governmental organizations are providing some of the services like health, normally provided by the government. This kind of aid is much more often associated with the developing world. Diseases such as HIV and malaria are on the rise.

The medical charity Medecins du Monde — Doctors of the World — known for its work in the Third World, saw the number of Greeks coming to its clinics double in 2011.

“Many patients are retired elderly citizens whose pensions have been substantially reduced because of the austerity measures implemented by the government in recent years,” the charity noted in recent research. And such charities are paying taxes on donations for the first time, as well as facing rising costs across the board.

Immigrants from developing countries are starting to see more opportunities for prosperity in their home countries than in Greece.

Ade, who emigrated from Nigeria in 2005, is planning to go back home as soon as she can afford to.  “There’s nothing here for me anymore, and I can’t contribute to society if I can’t work,” she told CNBC as she waited for free medical treatment (she is four months pregnant) at a center funded by the Orthodox Church.

There are also concerns that the escalating cost of heat and electricity, the result of tax increases brought in by the government following the bailout, coupled with a rising number of unpaid invoices, could lead to power cuts.

Energy companies in Greece are already struggling. State-run PPC needs to pay $657.2 million (which it does not have in its coffers after recent falls in revenue) by June 22 or persuade its banks to roll over its debts. And people increasingly cannot pay their bills.

Close to a third of the Greek population — the highest level in Europe — was considered at risk for poverty or social exclusion by Eurostat in 2010, when the economic and political situation was not as dire as it now appears. And nearly 20 percent of Greek children live in homes unable to afford at least 3 out of 9 basic items.
“We are the band that’s still playing on the Titanic. We have to play on and keep working even though the ship is sinking,” Protopapas told CNBC about his charity, which helps struggling families and has seen a dramatic increase in calls for its help.
(source: CNBC, Capital)

SCO Summit Breathes Life Into Economic/Educational Security of Central Asian Republics

SCO will be ‘fortress of security and stability’

By Wu Jiao, Zhou Wa and Cui Haipei (China Daily)
SCO will be 'fortress of security and stability' 

The leaders of the six Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries sign agreements in Beijing on Thursday.

[Wu Zhiyi / China Daily]

President sets out vision for bloc as Afghanistan gets observers status

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization granted Afghanistan observer status on Thursday as President Hu Jintao said the bloc aimed to become a “fortress of regional security and stability and a driving force of regional economic development”.

The current summit of the organization in Beijing, which witnessed the signing of agreements covering security, politics and the economies of the members, will be a landmark in the bloc’s history as it set out a clear vision of its direction, analysts said.

By granting observer status to Afghanistan, the SCO, which groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, consolidated ties with the war-torn country ahead of the pullout of most foreign troops by the end of 2014.

The organization also announced that Turkey, a NATO member, will join Sri Lanka and Belarus as a dialogue partner.

Observer status will strengthen “political, economic and civilian cooperation between the SCO states and Afghanistan,” Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said after the summit.

Central Asia’s stability is a pressing issue for the regional bloc, analysts said, especially considering the turmoil in the Middle East and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Chen Yurong, a researcher of regional affairs with the Institute of International Studies, said as the security situation in Central Asia has changed, the SCO must revise security policies.

The participation of Afghanistan and Turkey enlarges the region that the SCO covers geographically and increases the bloc’s global influence, Chen said. But some analysts suggested that the SCO should be cautious about more participants, as it could undermine the bloc’s capability given the sharp economic and historical differences between some countries.

The SCO on Thursday also recommitted itself to closer security ties by adopting a 2013-15 anti-terrorism plan and establishing a swift response mechanism.

The mechanism allows SCO members to request the help of other members to handle domestic emergencies.

It “will considerably boost the SCO’s ability to prevent and tackle emergencies”, a diplomatic source said.

Hu told the summit that “we should establish and improve a system of security cooperation”.

He also said that the members must tackle terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as drug traffickers and other organized cross-border criminal activity.

Development blueprint

Analysts said that the Beijing summit will be a milestone as it gives impetus to the development of the bloc, founded in 2001.

The member countries issued a joint declaration to adopt the Strategic Plan for the Medium-Term Development of the SCO and vowed to build the region into an area of secure and lasting peace and shared prosperity.

“It is no exaggeration to say the adoption of the strategic plan will have a far-reaching influence on the SCO’s development,” Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng said.

Xing Guangcheng, executive director of the SCO Research Center, said the declaration and strategic plan not only show the openness of the SCO, but also highlight the sustainability and stamina of the organization’s future development.

Hu said the summit is pivotal for the future development of the SCO, especially as the international and regional situation has been more complex and volatile.

Only after SCO members enhance cooperation and act in unison can they effectively cope with emerging challenges, safeguard regional peace and achieve development, he said.

Hu also said China will offer a loan of $10 billion to support economic cooperation within the bloc, and the loan will also be used to aid the development of SCO member states.

He also said China will help train 1,500 experts from other member countries over the next three years. It is also going to provide 30,000 government scholarships and invite 10,000 Confucius Institute teachers and students to come to China for research and study over the next decade.

The president also called for the establishment of a development bank, a food security mechanism, and for the promotion of trade and investment.

The 2013 SCO summit will be held in Kyrgyzstan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Uzbek President Islam Karimov also addressed the summit on Thursday.

Leaders and officials from the four SCO observer countries, Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India, as well as Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also delivered speeches at the meeting.

Free Syrian Army Rep. Arrives In Washington with I-Pad Loaded with Troop and Artillery Targeting Coordinates

A senior representative of the Free Syrian Army met the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford and special co-ordinator for the Middle East, Frederick Hoff, in the past week at the US State Department.

UN pulls out of Syria as fighting flares


Mission chief, Major-General Robert Mood: 'There has been an intensification of armed violence.'

Mission chief, Major-General Robert Mood: ‘There has been an intensification of armed violence.’Photo: Reuters

THE UN military observers sent to Syria to monitor an April 12 ceasefire that never took hold have suspended their mission, veteran peacekeeper Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood says.

Speaking of intensified violence over the past 10 days, the risk to observers and the ”lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful solution”, he said the mission is ”suspending its activities.”

”There has been an intensification of armed violence across Syria over the past 10 days,” the mission chief said. ”This escalation is limiting our ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue and stability projects – basically impeding our ability to carry out our mandate.

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the Assad regime in Yabroud, near Damascus, yesterday.

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the Assad regime in Yabroud, near Damascus, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

”The lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful transition … is increasing the losses on both sides: innocent civilians, men women and children are being killed every day. It is also posing significant risks to our observers.”

Meanwhile, Syrian rebels have held meetings with senior US government officials in Washington as pressure mounts on America to authorise a shipment of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to combat the Assad regime.

A senior representative of the Free Syrian Army met the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and special co-ordinator for the Middle East, Frederick Hoff, in the past week at the US State Department, sources said.

The rebel emissaries, armed with an iPad showing detailed plans on Google Earth identifying rebel positions and regime targets, also met senior members of the National Security Council, which advises President Barack Obama on national security policy.

The rebels have compiled a ”targeted list” of heavy weaponry, including anti-tank missiles and heavy machineguns, that they plan to present to US government officials in the coming weeks.

The consultations come before this week’s G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where British and US officials are expected to make a last-ditch attempt to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the Syria crisis.

Privately, Western diplomats admit they now harbour scant hope of forcing a change of heart on Russia, which has steadfastly refused to bow to US and British pressure to do more to arrest Syria’s slide into sectarian civil war. While there remains little appetite for direct Western military intervention, advanced contingency plans are already in place to supply arms to the rebels.

The move is expected to gather force following the expected failure of the Annan peace plan and the meeting of the Syria contact group scheduled for June 30 in Geneva.

Senior Middle Eastern diplomatic sources said Libyan-supplied weapons, paid for by Saudi Arabian and Qatari government funds and private donations, had already been stockpiled in expectation of the ”inevitable” intervention needed to end the Assad regime.

”The intervention will happen. It is not a question of if but when. The Libyans are willing to provide the anti-tank weapons, others are prepared to pay for it,” a source said.