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    Posted July 7, 2012 by
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    The Mideast Watch - Syria Edition - July 6th


    A  powder keg waiting to explode is the way many perceive the Mideast. The  events in the region could set off in many people's estimates a cascade  that could emesh the US of A in more military action.

    Most  of the Western nations along with the Arab League are getting weary of  the strife, atrocities and raging war inside Syria. But the question  remains if outside influences will have any impact as Bashar Al-Assad  attempts to hold to power.

    The  United States and its European and Arab partners will threaten the  Assad regime with global sanctions if it fails to quickly implement a  Syrian peace plan that includes the appointment of a new interim  government, U.S. officials said Thursday on the eve of an 80-nation  conference.


    In  Paris, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined senior  officials from about 100 other countries to win wider support for a  Syrian transition plan unveiled last week by U.N. mediator Kofi Annan.  Joined by America's allies, she called for “real and immediate  consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions,” against the Assad  regime.

    But with neither Moscow nor Beijing in attendance, much  remained dependent on persuading the two reluctant U.N. veto-wielding  powers to force Assad into abiding by a cease-fire and the transition  strategy. Clinton urged governments around the world to direct their  pressure toward Russia and China, as well.


    A  U.N. resolution could be introduced next week, according to American  officials who previewed Friday's "Friends of the Syrian People"  gathering in Paris on condition of anonymity. But with neither Moscow  nor Beijing in attendance, much will remain dependent on persuading the  two reluctant powers to pressure Assad into action.

    They've twice  stood in the way of U.N. condemnations of Assad's government. And  Moscow, whose sole naval base in the Mediterranean Sea is in Syria,  maintains close military cooperation with Damascus.


    French  Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says the Friends of Syria meeting in  Paris will not be just abstract talks but are aimed at bringing  practical support to the Syrian people.

    Fabius tells Le Parisien  newspaper that there is a clear need to move forward in Syria. He says  the barbarism of President Bashar al-Assad risks civil war and spreading  sectarian violence to neighboring countries.


    Secretary  Clinton says it is not enough for the so-called Friends of the Syrian  People to support Assad opponents when Russia and China are "holding up  progress."

    "I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and to not  only urge, but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to  support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," Clinton said.   "It is frankly not enough just to come to the Friends of the Syrian  People because I will tell you very frankly, I don't think Russia and  China believe they are paying any price at all, nothing at all, for  standing up on behalf of the Assad regime."

    "We now have them on  record supporting a transition," Clinton added.  "And we should go back  and ask for a resolution in the Security Council that imposes real and  immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions under  Chapter 7."


    The UN Observers: Major  General Robert Mood told reporters Thursday in Damascus that it is time  to stop spreading the team out "too thin" and that the U.N. Security  Council will decide on the future of the mission in the coming days and  weeks.

    "Whatever decision  the Security Council makes, the international community's continued  responsibility to the Syrian people is moral as well as political. We  cannot and we will not turn our eyes and ears away from your plight,"  said Mood. "And we'll continue our work to find new paths to political  dialogue and peaceful resolution to the crisis."


    Close Friend & General Defects: One  of President Bashar al-Assad's personal friends has defected and was  headed for exile in France on Friday, as the Syrian crisis took on a  Cold War tone when Washington threatened to make Russia and China "pay"  for backing the government in Damascus.

    Manaf  Tlas, a cadet college classmate, Republican Guard general and son of  Assad's father's defense chief, has yet to surface abroad, or clearly to  throw his lot in with the rebels, who acknowledged the loss of one of  their strongholds overnight.

    But  his desertion, leaked by family friends, was confirmed by the French  government. That gave a boost to a conference it hosted in Paris at  which Western powers and Sunni Arab rulers, bitterly opposed to Assad's  Iranian-sponsored administration, agreed to "massively increase" aid to  the Syrian opposition.


    "Manaf  is one of the regime's main figures," said Bashar al-Heraki, a member  of the Syrian National Council, the umbrella political group in exile.  Al-Heraki, who sits on the council's military coordination committee,  said Tlass would soon publicly declare his defection, but he declined to  confirm reports that the general was in Turkey.


    Rampage in the Streets: Syrian  forces killed at least 25 people, arrested scores of others and torched  more than 100 homes while seizing a northern city from rebels,  activists said Friday.


    From the Cornfield, the US of A presidential election may very well be decided on what happens in The Mideast.

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