Russia, U.S. Lock Horns Over Syria

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia on Tuesday of planning to ship attack helicopters to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad — a move she said “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.” Clinton’s remarks came on the same day that the UN peacekeeping chief, Herve Ladsous, told reporters that the Syrian conflict had escalated into a civil war. Lasdous is the first UN official to acknowledge what has been obvious for weeks: that the growing combat capability of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been allowing the rebels to carry out larger and more sophisticated operations against the Syrian military.

As if to underscore Ladsous’ claim, violent clashes between the FSA and Syrian armed forces broke out in several cities and towns across the country — including for the first time in the capital of Damascus. The Syrian military was also changing its tactics as the use of attack helicopters on civilians occurred in Talbiseh and Rastan. Shelling continued in Homs and other flashpoint cities of the rebellion.

The civilian opposition, represented by the Syrian National Council, has taken what many observers believe to be a positive step by electing a Kurd to head the group for the next three months. Tying the nation’s one million Kurds closer to the political opposition would strengthen the claim of the anti-Assad forces that they represent a broad, national coalition of a majority of Syrians who want Assad out.

The US State Department said it believes that the Syrian military is planning another massacre of civilians, this time in Haffeh, as the government has been shelling the city with mortars and using helicopters and tanks to battle the opposition forces while deploying the dreaded Shabbiha militia. US officials called on the Syrians to stop using “horrific tactics” in trying to suppress the rebellion in Haffeh.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland pointed out that this Russian shipment of helicopters comes at a time when President Assad is escalating the violence he is using against civilians. “We have been pushing the Russians for months to break their military ties with the Syrian regime and they haven’t done it. Instead, they keep reassuring all of us that what they are sending militarily to Syria can’t be used against civilians,” she said.

The Russian statement is disingenuous at best when one considers that helicopters are already being used against civilians by the Syrian military. “We are seeing the Syrian government using helicopters to fire on their own people from the air,” said Nuland. “So our question remains: How can the Russians conscience their continued military sales to Syria?”

The US has been urging Russia for several weeks to not only stop selling arms to Syria, but also to use its influence with President Assad to find a negotiated way out of the violence. Criticism of the Obama administration for basically farming out responsibility to Russia for stopping the violence, instead of America taking a leadership role in the crisis, has been coming from experts as well as Republican politicians. Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research and International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in Israel, has been among the most vocal of President Obama’s critics on Syria.

It’s Obama, not Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is pushing this plan to put Russia in control! If your enemy tries to fool or cheat you, that’s a problem. If you beg him to cheat you and hand him the means to do so, that’s a betrayal of U.S. interests.

The Kurdish leader elected to head up the Syrian National Council for the next three months, Abdelbasset Sida, told reporters that the regime was “on its last legs” — a boast to be sure, but backed up by rebel attacks in the capital of Damascus. This is the first time that Assad’s stronghold had come under fire. Two central districts in the city were attacked by the FSA and Syrian tanks shelled several buildings in a futile effort to beat back the rebels. A general strike called to protest the recent massacres was apparently more successful than many believed possible. Reports say up to 90% of shops were closed, with one businessman telling the Telegraph, “During the strike, the military forces tried to burn some stores or force the doors open, but they were powerless,” said Omar Dimashki. This is a potentially damaging turn of events for Assad who has counted on the merchant class to support him during the crackdown.

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  • David

    Good idea. Let's give the Syrian opposition Stinger missiles. That way they can use them to shoot down civilian aircraft.
    Better idea. Let's not give them weapons that they will use against Israelis.
    With the Muslims, the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy.

    • joy52

      Glad you clarified that. Let's not forget we supplied the Taliban in the 80s with the means to kick out the Russians. Ouch!

    • Asher

      This administration is no longer in control…they think they are…but bad policies do not enable peace. They have enabled the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Egypt, and Syria is in limbo. The United States is no longer trusted because of their security leaks, can anyone guess who this benefits….its the Islamic Brotherhood to Form a One World Caliphate. Syria is the last stepping stone before the Russians and Islamic nations go after Israel and the U.S. Not hard to figure out the next moves.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

        Hillary will probably ask the for the 'overcharge' 'reset button' they gave Russia a couple of years ago.

        And Putin will send it back in a box, in pieces. Little tiny pieces.

        And knowing this clueless administration they'll call it a victory and leak about how they scared Putin into giving it over.

  • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks

    OBAMA COWERS BEFORE PUTIN AS RESET POLICY CRUMBLES

    "The 15 month old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war," says UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous-with an armed and deadly Assad regime ready to double the mountain of corpses and kill thousands more. And what does Obama do? Does he move for a security council resolution to impose an arms embargo on Assad? No! Why? Because the awesome killer of Osama bin Laden, the liberator of Libya from Kadday, the greatest war leader in centuries, fears Russian strongman Vladimir Putin; fears he won't comply; fears a confrontation; fears he'll look like the weak, cowardly, pathetic amateur that he is and hurt his chances of reelection. Obama's reset policy is a shambles as his foreign policy goes down the drain.

    Click my name to continue reading

  • Amused

    Oh what a croc ,..the US should stay the hell out of Syria …PERIOD . No ARMS , no NOTHING .If ythe Russians want to supply attack helicopters , let'em . That's on them . Nobody's " cowering" before Putin , tghat's syucvh a bullssheet notion , we DEFEND ISRAEL …..that's it . All the critics spnd half their time criticizing US policy if it edges towards military support , and the other half if the US policy is to employ sanctions only .YOUR ASSSSUMPTIONS , on what and why this Administration is doing what it is doing , are childish and irresponsible .
    Put aside your Obama Hate Syndrome for a moment and you may be capable of some RATIONAL thoughts . That's the main PROBLEM with REPUBLICANS and CONSERVATIVES , play brinksmanship , desyroy the country and the world in the process , for that matters not as long as the last man standing is a Republican or Conservative . What a bunch of foolish Assssholes .

    • reader

      Seriously, are you trying Tommy's act or you're mentally ill for real?

      • Amused

        you're irrelevant " reader " , by way of your utter ignorance ….run along little boy .

        • reader

          You mean, I'm not a doctor?

    • Ghostwriter

      So,Amused. You'd rather have Assad butcher his own people rather than do anything to stop it. You're a real piece of work,you know that?

      • Drakken

        Muslim killing muslims, so please explain the downside? I call it a touch of Darwin. Ghostrider, if you are so concerned with those muslim savages, why don't you go there then?

  • StephenD

    We have no dog in this fight; Nor did we in any of the others. We should keep our distance and let EVERYONE know in no uncertain terms that regardless of who prevails, Israel is not to be accosted. Going after Israel is the same as going after the USA and will be dealt with in swift and devastating response. This is what cave dwellers understand. The threat of brute force is all that moves them to action…or inaction.

    • joy52

      Agreed. Add Syria to the long list of messups for Hil and Obama. They are dangerously incompetent. No one respects them, which is why Russia is stepping in. It is not our fight and they will go after us no matter what.

      • Asher

        Their arrogance has caused their failures….Pride goes before a Fall!

    • mlcblog

      This is where I err on the side of US intervention. I still see those green banners waving in the streets (that was Syria, right?) as the Syrian people tried to get free of this murderous dictator. Granted, it may not be wise, as their regime may then be another military and/or Muslim force taking over, so maybe not a step forward. Thus, not wise for the US to intervene, but my heart is with the people and I wish there were a way we could show our support aside from prayer.

      • Drakken

        Let them slaughter each other to their little islamic hearts content, so no sympathy from me.

  • Flowerknife_us

    Russia using Syria to put the squeeze on Turkey.

  • Steve Chavez

    LOCKING HORNS like elk, deer, rams, etc… ? The Obama administration policy towards Russia has Putin's knees shaking. LOL!

    Where's the tough talk towards IRAN, THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE U.S. and who funds SYRIA and who Iran uses as a proxy to aid terrorist groups, AS DEFINED BY THE SAME U.S. GOVERNMENT, whose eventual goal is to "whip Israel off the map?" RUSSIA AND CHINA, BOTH OUR FRIENDS, veto every meaningful sanction when it comes to Iran and Syria.

    PUTIN IS LAUGHING AT HILLARY AND OBAMA SINCE IN THEIR YOUNGER 1980'S DAYS, THEY WERE KGB DUPES WHICH LEADS TO THE QUESTION: WHO REALLY WON THE COLD WAR WHEN KGB DUPES NOW RUN THE UNITED STATES?

  • muchiboy

    We still haven’t learned many of the lessons from history (e.g.do Jews feel safe today,and are they)?.And it seems when we try,we get it wrong (e.g.Iraq,Afghanistan).In Syria,we need consider the internal and external sequalae before we take decisive actions.America and the West may be reluctant to support rebels ,fearing and uncertain of a more anti-Israel consequence,(e.g.replacing minority Alawite sect and Christian influence with an anti-Zionist Brotherhood.).So,look the other way when hundreds of Arab children are murdered,so a Zionist state can be protected.Bull$hit.muchiboy

    • Kendrick1

      Don't forget to apply the race card, the global warming card, the health card, and the hunger card!!!

      • muchiboy

        "Don't forget to apply the race card, the global warming…."

        Well,somewhere in the State Department they favored codling Zionist Israel over protecting hundreds of Syrian children.Decades ago I suspect a similar debate produced a policy favoring the gassing of hundreds of thousands of Jewish children.Tell me we've changed a lot,Kendrick1.muchiboy

        • Drakken

          If your looking for sympathy for those muslim arab children I am fresh out. I am a firm let them kill each other a let allah sortem out type. No matter what we do the muslims are still going to hate us so screw them let them rot.

    • Lan Astslem

      Dhimmi boy – it's the arab/muslim filth that's on a murderous rampage around the world murdering innocent men women and children every day. LAN ASTASLEM

    • Ghostwriter

      Filthiboy,why don't you go back to the ooze from which you were spawned? You're a disgusting Jew hater so why don't you go to a KKK site where your views would be more at home.

  • Looking4Sanity

    What is going on with the commenting system on this site? Half of these articles don't seem to have Intense Debate enabled. Very frustrating.

  • http://www.maghrebchristians.com Youssef

    Shafiq’s candidacy has dismayed many Egyptians who believe the Mubarak-era veteran will preserve the old regime’s authoritarianism. But even if some Christians share those reservations, they view his opponent in the race as far worse: Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt’s Christian minority fears will turn the country into an Islamic state.

    Read more: http://www.maghrebchristians.com/2012/06/13/egypt

    Youssef

  • Mach1Duck

    The Middle East Muslim States are failures. Failure breeds discontent. Discontent civil unrest. As for the United States…Stay the Hell out , or you will be dragged into the largest mess imaginable.

    • BS77

      Do I care about what is going on inside Iraq or Syria? DId the US or anyone stop the hideous genocide in Sudan? No, nothing was done. What can we do in these horrible hell holes, anyway???. Today over 70 people were killed by car bombs in Iraq. , What can be done?. The great tragedy is knowing how HORRIBLE life must be for young children and their young mothers in these terrible places. Makes any thinking person sick to think about daily life in these wretched, terrible countries. Read Brigitte Gabriel's account of her experiences of growing up in Lebanon. .

      • mlcblog

        Of course we care. That is just the trouble. What, if anything, to do about it?

    • Kendrick1

      Smart man! You think like I do!! Leave them to their own devices!!

  • RoguePatriot6

    We are not the world's savior and never have been. One of the issues that many in the administration seem to purposely overlook is, Who are these rebels backed by? Who's yanking their chains? These are the same issues that the administration talked around when we dealt with the Libyan rebels. We have done this with just about every nation affected by Arab Spring (more like Islamic Typhoon). Worked out great hasn't it?

    Another observation that I've made is our administration's eagerness to jump into this conflict, like Libya and the scrutiny over decisions to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan made by Bush. He was called, "War criminal, warmonger, typical trigger happy Republican"……yet when this administration spoke of the possibility of U.S. involvement in Syria and Libya's civil conflict……………(crickets).

  • Supreme_Galooty

    The United States has no hope of conducting any sort of coherent foreign policy until it has settled the score internally with its traitorous, un-American Democrats. With quislings in charge at the Department of State – even under Republican administrations – America has no chance to be but a laughing stock on the world stage. Forget dabbling in quarrels amongst those Jolly Musselmen. We have been set upon here at home by scoundrels and cheats posing as Democrats. After we get our own house in order, we MIGHT consider squandering our resources on those benighted rag-headed riff raff ruffians. Drill, Baby, Drill, and to HELL with Wahhabism.

    • Asher

      America doesn't need Arab, or Brazilian Oil we have enough of our own to be self-sufficient!

    • mlcblog

      Spot on! the US State Dept has been infiltrated since the 1950's, severely. They often run foreign policy, doing things at their will, rather than the way the public has chosen.

    • Kendrick1

      And our sovereignty is eroding to the UN!!

  • Looking4Sanity

    The Syrian question, in my mind, is two fold (and mulch-faceted).

    1.) Do we have the Right to interfere in another sovereign nation's civil war?

    2.) Do we have an obligation to intervene if another country (Russia) interferes with that nation's civil war?

    Aside from any possible Treaty agreements, can we really justify action on the grounds of "national security"?

    Without a doubt, it is wrong for Russia to be meddling in Syria's internal conflict to my way of thinking. But, considering that Syria has never been our friend or ally, might it not be better to sit this one out and let the situation resolve itself on its own momentum? We can always deal with Syria later if they become a legitimate threat to our national interests.

    • mlcblog

      right to interfere vs come to the aid

      • Looking4Sanity

        Simple question for a simple statement…

        How does the phrase "come to the aid of Syria" apply to a situation in which we would be fighting AGAINST the lawful government of Syria on the side of rebels who hate us as much. if not more than, the lawful regime does?

        I'm forced to question your thought process on this one. It reeks of emotional appeal.

        • mlcblog

          Come to the aid of the people, of course, not the Syrian govt.

          • Looking4Sanity

            I've met bricks that weren't as thick as you seem to be. Not only did you not answer the question, but you keep repeating yourself. What's up with that?

      • Snorbak

        & just who would the US becomming to the aid of?
        Even the most astute politicians & military planners would struggle to define & differentiate who was deserving of assistance & who was the enemy, as almost to a man, they all despise the west.
        Even if you were able to do so, where would you begin, especially given that the US would risk going up against Russian forces that would potentially come to the aid of Assad.
        In addition Assad has stated that should forign militaries intervene, Israel will become the target which would escalate the conflict into a regional affair.
        Syria is Syria's problem, it will only escalate shoud the civil war spread south of Syrias borders into Lebanon or worse Israel.

        • mlcblog

          I agree we can't make heads or tails of it.

          I was just thinking, as I often do, how we have such a rich country, fresh water everywhere, abundant resources, and a govt which benefits us — all this, as opposed to the exact opposite in so many areas of the world, and how To whom much is given, much will be required.

          Seems it is fitting that we come to the aid of some. Yet, the devil is in the details.

  • Looking4Sanity

    This entire situation reeks of an effort by Putin to boost Obama's chances of re-election. It would certainly be in Russia's best interest if he were re-elected. So…Putin "conveniently" gives Obama a justification to send more of our sons and daughters to die in a desert where not ONE Russian citizen is in harm's way.

    Very "convenient", indeed. Food for thought.

    • Amused

      You got rocks in your head ….continue "looking4sanity " because you have none .

      • Looking4Sanity

        …said the paid government troll.

  • Amused

    Glad you used the word "squandering " because THATS exactly what we did in Iraq , and are doing in Afghhjanistan . And it was more than just the "scoundrels posing as Democrats " that got us into those messes . The problem with Republicans and Conservatives is that they constantly proves themselves SCHIZOPHRENIC when it comes to involvement or non-involvement in these situations . And it's pretty damn obvious to predict which way they will swing – it will always be the opposite of what the present Administration does , and also quite clear , that doing 180's on policies to accomodate THAT mindset . Who ya kidding Gabooty

  • Kendrick1

    This would be a good time to start pulling out of all the countries in which we have our noses and U.S. taxpayer money. Cut off the funds we give them, reinforce our defenses here at home, get busy drilling for oil and natural gas, produce more coal, and strive for more renewable energy (with no taxpayer subsidies)! To a man, all countries of the world hate us!! So I say, let them go on their own and let's take care of our own people. We are now being held hostage by the Islamists!!

  • mrbean

    "Obambi" as Putin calls Obama doesn't have horns or cajones, and he considers Hillary Clinton the equivalent of a unkempt peasent charwoman.

  • Mark

    Who benefits from so-called civilian massacres in Syria? Certainly not Assad's regime! With every massacre, Western public opinion is being pushed closer and closer to give the green light for western military intervention. That is what the jihadi opposition wants and desperately needs in order to win against Assad's superior military power.
    Before rushing to judgement, we better really double-check WHO is really committing those massacres.

  • wctaqiyya

    Once again, we see the US eagerly rushing in to do Saudi Arabia's dirty work. Whats all that noise about Israel controlling our foreign policy?

  • Flowerknife_us

    Assad of Syria. Oh-what oh what should he do? Defend himself and his rule and possibly die. Or. Should he just surrender and die for sure. So many options for the man.

    Given the nature of those who really want to take over the place being no better if not worse. creates little room to wish getting involved.

    There is no "good guy" to root for.

  • mrbean

    Remember when Senator McCain, of course, got his wish for NATO bombing that paved the way for the rebels’ conquest of Tripoli in late August. It was only then that the broader American public got some idea of the central role that al-Qaeda had been playing in the rebellion all along. As Tripoli fell, it emerged that the commander of the rebel forces that had taken control of the capital was none other than Abdul Hakim Belhadj, the historical leader of the local al-Qaeda affiliate, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). In fact, no fewer than three al-Qaeda-linked militants who had at one time or another been in U.S. custody played key roles in the rebellion.
    Now Aenator dead man walking wants us to militarily support the Syrian Rebels which are al Qaeda dominated as well. We have all seen enough newsreels with "Allah lu Akbar " shouted by rebels to know this true.

  • Drakken

    Obummer and company can do nothing since Putin has obummer by the balls in realation to Putin controlling our supply line to Afghanistan which happen to go through Putins back yard. Pakiland has cut our supply chain through their country so that is that. As for the Russians? I'll give them credit, at least they know how to deal with their muslim problem. I hope the Russians sends lots of attack helicopters.

  • RUI

    This is one of those conflicts I wish would go on forever and no side would win. Can we have that?