Posted to YouTube 5/24/2011.

I was smiling as they gave us instructions worthy of a spy movie: “Come to the bus stop… There’ll be a man in a grey suit with a rolled-up paper in his hand… Don’t approach, keep walking. He’ll catch up with you… Jump into the green taxi – it’s our driver… Delete the numbers from your mobile…”

They were careful, but exceptionally brave, and full of hope. They genuinely believed then that, in a matter of months, the ruthless, authoritarian government that had ruled Syria for decades would fall, just like Egypt’s and Tunisia’s did. They had high hopes of building a new country, a new society, governed by democratic values and the rule of law.

Neistat, Anna.  “No excuse for failing Syria.”  Amnesty International, March 14, 2015.

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad on Monday received Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei and the accompanying delegation.

Makei delivered to President al-Assad a letter from President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in which he expressed his country’s support for Syria in the face of the terrorist attack targeting it, with Lukashenko expressing confidence in the Syrian people’s ability to achieve victory and overcome the crisis and asserting that Belarus is committed to developing relations with Syria in all fields.

Sana.  “President al-Assad receives letter from President of Belarus expressing support for Syria.”  February 9, 2015.

“It is quite understandable that the Syrian army withdraws to protect large cities where much of the population is located,” said Waddah Abded Rabbo, director of Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime.

“The world must think about whether the establishment of two terrorist states is in its interests or not,” he said, in reference to IS’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front’s plans for its own “emirate” in northern Syria.

Ketz, Sammy.  “Syria regime ‘to accept de facto partition’ of country.”  Yahoo News, May 24, 2015.

Syndicate Red Brown Green” has been made a term of art on BackChannels for just this reason: it’s not looking good for the Assad regime’s recovery of Syria, but with a painful retrenching in the offing, it has its friends: Putin’s Russia; Khamenei’s Iran — and Putin’s Russia has a relationship with a dictatorship amenable to hosting some family with few places to go.

That day has not come yet, but while perverting a gentle 2011 challenge to its authority — this tragedy began with nonviolent protests met with the arresting and torturing of children — into a ferocious heroic narrative, “Assad vs The Terrorists”, a frame requiring the indiscriminate bombing of the innocent and allowance for the real terrorists to get their acts together in order to play their roles.  The Terrorists have made it just about to the gates of state power.

Perhaps Belarus awaits more and other than Assad cousin Hafez Makhlouf.

Gov. Talal Barazi of the central province of Homs, which includes Palmyra, told The Associated Press Sunday that IS members have “committed mass massacres in the city of Palmyra” since they captured it on Wednesday. He said IS fighters took many civilians, including women, to unknown destinations.

Activists in the town have said that IS fighters have hunted down President Bashar Assad’s loyalist since taking the town, killing some 280 people.

Aji, Albert and Bassem Mroue. AP.  “Official: Syrian army preparing for counterattack on IS.”  Yahoo! News, May 24, 2015.

As a reflection of the news with a little widening into overlooked space, i.e., Belarus, this post has turned out a bit of a patchwork: a little bit about the Syrian Civil War; a little about dictatorship and the “Putin-Assad-Khamenei” axis.  So be it.  There is nothing neat in the way these small wars work or in the ways powerful elites work either.


Bohdan, Siarhei.  “Belarus Turns to Pro-Western Nations in The Middle East.”  Belarus Digest, May 5, 2015.

Brown, Hayes.  “What Putin’s ‘Friends’ Think of His Ukraine Adventures.”  Think Progress, March 7, 2014.

Cadwalladr, Carole.  “Natalia Kaliada: ‘In Belarus it’s very simple — everything’s repressed.”  The Guardian, June 2, 2012.

Channel 4 News.  “Belarus: Undercover in Europe’s last dictatorship.”  Video (YouTube).  May 22, 2014.

Dreazen, Yochi J.  “Belarus May Be Providing Syria With Deadly Military Technology.”  The Atlantic, June 14, 2012.  Related by same author: “Is Belarus Assad’s Newest Ally?”  National Journal, June 13, 2012 — last sentence: “Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, believes that foreign nations shouldn’t be allowed to intervene in the internal disputes of a sovereign nation.”

European Union.  “Restrictive measures (sanctions) in force.”  Belarus section included.  Listings updated March 19, 2015. (PDF)

Lester, Maya.  “EU Court Annuls Ternavsky’s 1st Belarus Sanctions Listing and Upholds 2nd.”

Neistat, Anna.  “No excuse for failing Syria.”  Amnesty International, March 14, 2015.

Nemtsova, Anna.  “Where Can Syria’s Asma Assad Go?”  The Daily Beast, July 22, 2012.

Rafiq, Jeffrey.  “President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko talks about Syria & Assad.”  Video (YouTube), posted March 7, 2013.

Reuters.  “Syria death toll now exceeds 210,000.”  February 7, 2015.

Sana.  “President al-Assad receives letter from President of Belarus expressing support for Syria.”  February 9, 2015.

The Daily Star.  “Assad cousin relocates to Belorussia.”  September 29, 2014.

U.S. Department of the Treasury.  “Belarus Sanctions.”

World Vision.  “FAQs: Syria’s War, Children, and the Refugee Crisis.”  May 12, 2015.  Article reports 7.6 million internally displaced and 4 million made refugee.

“Natalia Kaliada – Theatre of Resistance.”  OsloFreedomForum, YouTube, June 10, 2013.

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