January 30, 2012-  I have had three conversations over the weekend with my sources and one just now with Monzer Assaf who is in Bab Touma, Damascus.  Monzer and I know each other from when I visited Syria in 1982 and 1983.  We maintained contact throughout all these turbulent years and Monzer has consistently called me whenever he had something new.  My friend just finished getting me abreast of the military situation in Saqba.  He says that the NYT and BBC are misleading people about fighting in other villages close to the capital.  He avers that the fighting in Al-Ghouta, historically Damascus’ big picnic area now transmogrified into high rise buildings and avenues leading to the airport, is nothing more that the Syrian infantry and militia going after some deserters who packed up and fled when they saw Syrian T-72 tanks being carried on trucks into their area.  He says that the army appears to have adopted a policy of “no mercy”. 

      In this dated picture, you can see Syrian T-72 tanks moving down the road from Qatana.
Monzer said that other villages which I mentioned, (like Harasta),  were nothing more than minor irritants which quickly fall at the sight of armor.  He did say that some Libyan mercenaries were surrendering in the northern province of Idlib and that they were described by his military contacts as ignorant rubes who were untrainable. 

The effort at the U.N. to bring some kind of resolution critical of the Assad government appears doomed to failure.  The Russians, who are allied now with Syria, have made it pellucidly clear that they and the Chinese will only vote “yes” for the Russian proposal.  Somehow, the French who are sending their embarrassingly inane F.M, Alain Juppain, cannot understand that Russia is not going to give up her friendship with Syria and lost docking rights at Tartous.  Syria is now committed to a long-term lease with Russia, not to mention the millions of dollars spent by Moscow on revamping the port area of Tartous to accomodate her aircraft carriers and submarines. 

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, has an Armenian father and Georgian mother. He knows the area quite well and has takecitizens.  n a rigid stance in defense of Syria’s legitimate right to protect her citizens.
The decision to eradicate the terrorists did not come with the blessing of the Russian government. It came because leading financial figures in Syria, mostly Sunni billionaires, have made it clear to Dr. Assad that he had to finish this job.  He has to stop “fiddling around”.  We agree.

Other sources along the coast tell me that the situation is so calm that you wouldn’t know there was any unrest.  My sister-in-law in Aleppo says that reports of disturbances in Aleppo are “completely false” and must be a reference to Idlib.  Aleppo is fine, she says, but business around this time of year is slow.

Homs’ Baba Amr quarter has been pacified with some deserters finding shelter in nearby Khaldieh.  They are viewed as pests and nothing more.  My friend George has a friend named Walid who just arrived from Beirut.  Walid told him that Homs is getting arms from Saad Hariri’s thugs in Tripoli but that Syrian General Intelligence has infiltrated their ranks with many supply trucks being intercepted and destroyed.  For our readers’ information, last month, Syria’s People’s Assembly made it a capital crime to smuggle arms into Syria to aid terrorists.