Archive for April, 2011


April 29, 2011

AFP reported on April 29, 2011, that Britain on the 28th withdrew the Syrian ambassador’s invitation to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

In Washington, three key US senators urged President Barack Obama to declare that his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad has squandered his legitimacy and must step down:

We urge President Obama to state unequivocally – as he did in the case of Gaddafi and Mubarak – that it is time for Assad to go,” Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joe Lieberman said in a joint statement.

The European Union is mulling sanctions and the UN Human Rights Council has called a special session for Friday in Geneva on the crackdown in Syria.

In the southern town of Daraa water and power have been cut and the death toll has risen to 42 on the fourth day of a military siege, a rights activists said.

“Friday of Anger, April 29, in solidarity with Daraa,” says a notice on the Syrian Revolution 2011 page of Facebook, a motor of the protests in which demonstrators inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world are seeking greater freedoms.

“To the youths of the revolution, tomorrow we will be in all the places, in all the streets … We will gather at the besieged towns, including with our brothers in Daraa.”

It said demonstrations would also be staged in other flashpoint towns such as Homs in the centre of the country and Banias in the northwest.


April 27, 2011

The Editors of National Review on April 27, 2011, recommend that America’s ambassador to Syria is withdrawn immediately. Likewise, Syria’s ambassador to the U.S. should be sent home.

Freeze Syrian elites’ overseas assets, forbid them travel in and out of the country, freeze the Syrian central bank (using financial-sanctions provisions of the PATRIOT Act), and ban arms trade with Syria.

France and Britain are currently introducing resolutions to the United Nations for condemnations and sanctions. The United States should not take a backseat.

Why can’t President Obama craft some strong, unequivocal condemnation for Assad?

Things could get very, very bad in Syria. Expect no real concessions, or defections from Assad’s Shia sect of the Alawites.

The Editors of the magazine believe the American response so far has been incongruent to the crimes Bashar al-Assad has perpetrated, and cowardly and weak.

This blog has earlier reported similar demands by Senator Joe Lieberman.


April 25, 2011

On April 23, 2011, Amir Taheri in New York Post sampled a number of Syrian freedom slogans in the streets around the nation:

– An end to the Ba’ath Party’s monopoly on power by cancelling Article 8 of the Constitution.

– Immediate resignation of Bashar al-Assad as president and the holding of fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.

– The formation of a transition government reflecting the wishes of the people.

– Limiting the presidential election to two consecutive five-year terms, thus ending the current “president-for-life” system.

– An end to torture, killings, arrests and violence against demonstrators.

– The return of the army units to barracks and the withdrawal of sniper units known as al-Ashbah (“ghosts”).

– Three days of state-sanctioned mourning for those killed in the uprising so far.

– An independent investigation into the deaths of protesters and judicial proceedings in the light of evidence revealed.

– Release of all political prisoners.

It is obvious that Assad has to go before the demands can be met. The bloodshed on April 25, 2011, in Syrian cities shows that the tyrant is not willing to stop killing his people. It is time that the West takes notice of the popular uprising in one of the worst dictatorships of the Mideast.


April 25, 2011

On April 25, 2011, Associated Press via Fox News reported that Syrian troops in armored vehicles and tanks had stormed the southern town of Daraa and opened fire. It was the latest bloodshed in a five-week uprising against President Bashar Assad’s dictatorship.

An eyewitness told AP that he saw at least five corpses after security forces fired on a car.

The city of Daraa has become a center of the protest movement, which kicked off in the town more than a month ago. Since then, more than 300 people have been killed across the country as the anti-government demonstrations have swelled.

Activists on social media posted footage of what they said were troops firing early throughout Daraa. The sound of heavy gunfire punctuates the footage, as well as the labored, frightened breathing of the activist filming the footage. The activist repeats the date, the location and says: “The army forces are entering Daraa. They are shelling the city of Daraa.”

The same day witnesses said Syrian security forces were opening fire in the suburbs of Damascus.

There was no immediate word on casualties, and telephone lines in Daraa appeared to have been cut.

The dictator Assad has blamed most of the unrest on a “foreign conspiracy” and armed thugs trying to sow sectarian strife.

Two members stepped down from the provincial council in the southern region of Daraa, which has the highest death toll in the country. The resignations came a day after two lawmakers and a religious leader from Daraa also turned their backs on Assad in disgust over the killings.


April 25, 2011

Senator Joe Lieberman, Independent Connecticut, on April 24, 2011, called for the United States to step up support for the popular uprising in Syria.

He said on CNN:

This is a moment of extraordinary opportunity for the cause of freedom in Syria, and it has tremendous strategic significance for the region.

Senator Lieberman noted that Syria has close ties with Iran.

Lieberman wants the U.S. to freeze Assad’s wealth and go to the United Nations to place an arms embargo on the regime.


April 13, 2011

On April 8, 2011, Fox News in an article presented the US Navy’s new laser weapon. A test was made off the coast of Central California from the deck of the Navy’s self-defense ship.

In a video from the test a small boat can be seen catching fire and ultimately bursting into flames, a conflagration caused by the navy’s distant gun. Some details of the test were classified, including the exact range of the shot.

The Navy, Army and other armed forces have been working to incorporate so called “directed energy” laser weapons in a number of new guns, from tank-mounted blasters to guns on planes or unmanned balloons. This was the first test of a laser weapon at sea.

The weapon, called the maritime laser demonstrator, was built in partnership with Northrop Grumman. It focused 15 kilowatts of energy by concentrating it through a solid medium.

Quentin Saulter, the research office’s program officer, said that:

We call them solid state because they use a medium, usually something like a crystal.

This and other types of laser weaponry could also be effective against planes and targets on shore.

The Navy is working as well on a gun called the FEL — for free-electron laser, which doesn’t use a gain medium and is therefore more versatile. It was tested in February 2011. Also in the Navy’s futuristic arsenal: a so-called “rail gun,” which uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. Railguns are even further off in the distance, possibly by 2025, the Navy has said, but some laser weapons are just around the corner: Northrop Grumman plans to field them in 2014.

On April 13, 2011, another Northrop Grumman creation was presented in an article by Fox News: it will be the most technologically advanced plane in the arsenal of the US Navy.

The Navy’s experimental X-47B combat system won’t be remotely piloted, but is otherwise almost completely autonomous. The plane would be piloted by 3.4 million lines of software code. The rest of its functions will be handled by non-pilot personnel (or your average child), as they will only require clicks of the mouse.

The X-47B has already taken to the skies from Edwards AFB earlier this year, but it is a Navy plane for carrier operations.

Simulated takeoffs and landings are starting in 2013 and when completed it will be landing autonomously on a sea-tossed carrier deck by 2014.


April 5, 2011

WSJ Europe on April 5, 2011, reports of growing criticism by the members of the United States Congress and Syrian freedom fighters of the timid response of the West to the Syrian uprising. Now would be an opportunity to weaken tyrant al-Assad, they say.

A leading Syrian democracy fighter, Ammar Abdulhamid, based in Washington has stated:

The administration still seems like it’s seeking to engage Assad. I don’t see the point at this stage, as Assad has shown his true colors by engaging in such violence.

Syrian democracy leaders are also calling for U.N. action as well as sanctions targeting the top members of Assad’s government.
Mr. Assad is Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world and a central partner in Tehran’s efforts to fund and arm the militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Syria has also played a major role in facilitating the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

Some Republican and Democratic said Mr. Assad has been in power for more than a decade and hasn’t introduced any meaningful political changes. Lawmakers also said they couldn’t imagine a regime in Damascus any more hostile to Western interests than Assad’s.