Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Syria Sacks Head of State-Run Tishreen Newspaper, Arabiya Says
2011-04-09, By Massoud A. Derhally
April 9 (Bloomberg) — Syria sacked Samira al-Masalma the editor-in-chief of state-run newspaper Tishreen after she blamed security forces for killings of protesters, Al-Arabiya television reported today without saying where it obtained the information…..[she cried in the interview over relatives of hers from Daraa.]
Syria’s race against the clock
Posted By Peter Harling Monday, April 11, 2011
The Syria we knew is no longer. Together with the rest of the region, it has entered an era of uncertainty and incessant flux. For now it has settled into a slow-motion revolution, as protests both fail to reach a critical mass and prod authorities to successfully respond to far-reaching demands. Two conflicting trends currently coexist. The regime has laid out a body of reforms which have the potential to win over enough popular support to ensure a peaceful way forward. But it has also failed to bring violence to an end, whether due to senseless scare tactics, well-ingrained habits of the security apparatus, possible provocations staged by the regime’s many enemies (from dissident members of the ruling family to hostile parties abroad to home-grown die-hard Islamists) and the increasingly tense general atmosphere — or a mix of all the above.
Although many view the present through the prism of the past, with memories still fresh of the ruthlessness with which the Muslim Brotherhood-led uprising of the early 1980s was crushed, it is doubtful that all-out repression today would put an end to protests that enjoy a much broader base — even if they have taken on Islamist undertones in some places. Alternatively, quick-fixes, cosmetic changes and empty promises would only postpone an explosion.
This leaves Syrians the choice between two perilous journeys: either radical reform or outright revolution. Neither offers easy answers to the deep-seated issues at stake, including preserving Syria’s fragile secular model, addressing its severe economic predicament and maintaining its regional standing. …..
If Assad falls, we will see all the region’s alliances unravel
Guardian (GB): 2011-04-11
Syria’s president is not the only one nervously monitoring the protests. Regime change there will reshape the Middle East. The Syrian regime, long a key player in the Middle East power play, has decided to fight back with full force. It seems determined to defeat the tidal wave of popular protest that smashed the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt, that is threatening rulers …
….Post-Mubarak Egypt is likely to distance itself from Israel and rejoin the Arab camp, while Syria’s alliance with Iran – unpopular with the Sunni- majority population, – could be endangered by any change of regime in Damascus. Other significant changes to the regional geopolitical map include the emergence of Turkey as a beneficent player, promoting trade and conflict resolution, and Iraq’s slow recovery as a major Arab power from the devastation inflicted on it by Tony Blair, George Bush and America’s pro-Israel neocons.Are we then about to witness some reshuffling of alliances formed 30 years ago? Iraq and Iran, who fought a bitter war in the 1980s, could well draw closer now both are under Shia leadership. Together they will form a formidable power block. America’s colossal investment in men and treasure in the Iraq war will seem vainer than ever.
Some things, however, could remain the same. Once the crisis abates, Turkey will continue to cultivate its friendship with Syria whatever the nature of its regime, because Syria will remain a key pivot of Turkey’s ambitious Arab policy. Turkey may indeed come to replace Iran as Syria’s main regional ally.
Nor is the crisis likely to reduce Syria’s influence in Lebanon. No Syrian regime of any colour can tolerate a hostile government in Beirut. Its security – especially vis-a-vis Israel – is intimately tied to that of its Lebanese neighbour. The wave of protest engulfing the Arab world has pushed the Arab-Israeli conflict into second place. But that can only be temporary. Until it is resolved, the region will know no stability and little peace.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been pursuing a divide-and-conquer strategy against dissent, using specific carrots-and-sticks to appease and repress the country’s complicated collection of tribal, ethnic and religious interests. …
U.S. Policymakers and Analysts Debate on Syria: Human rights activists and members of Congress criticized the administration’s “tepid” response to violence in Syria, as well as SenatorJohn Kerry (D-MA) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton references to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer.” Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said that anyone who thought Assad was a reformer was “fooling themselves.” Bilal Y. Saab argued that a collapse of the regime would have ripple effects across the Middle East. Gary Gambill examined Assad‘s survival strategy for remaining in power. Nicholas Blanford analyzes the recent events in Syria and questions whether Assad will be effective in attempting to divide and conquer the opposition.
Cage and Wave « P U L S E
By Robin Yassin-Kassab
This interview with Syria Comment’s Joshua Landis is well worth watching for background on Syria’s sectarian divisions and their influence on current events. I agree with most of what he says but I differ with his interpretation. …
Freedom of expression: Egyptian Military Court Sentences Blogger To 3 Years
by The Associated Press,April 11, 2011
An Egyptian military tribunal convicted a blogger of insulting the army and sentenced him to three years in prison, further raising activists’ fears that the army is against greater freedom of expression and political reform……