News Round Up (11 April 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
Patrick Seale

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.

Time: Can the Syrian Regime Divide and Conquer Its Opposition? 2011-04-09

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. …

From POMED:

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……

Comments (25)


1. NK said:

http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=147536891979518&id=144220648977809

D.N.N شبكة دمشق الاخبارية
بانياس : الجيش السوري يعلن أنه أعطى مهلة حتى حلول ظلام اليوم لكي يسلم الإرهابيين أنفسهمم مع أسلحتهم و إلا سيضطر لاستخدام القوة العسكرية الكاملة لتمشيط المدينة و القضاء على الإرهابيين
13 hours ago

and here’s some of the lovely comments on that page

Rashed Al Horani أي والله من زمان
Lolo Malas الله يقويكن لاتعطو مهلة لحدا فوتو احرقون
من اليوم و رايح اللي بدو حرية بدنا نحط صرمايتنا بتمو صح؟ نزّلوا بانياس ع الأرض هيي و قلعة المرقب
Mayar Manssour لك هدول مو لازمون غير هيك,و منرتاح منون انشالله..
Radwan Ahmad البوط العسكري أشرف من أشرفهم ..ويستحقون أن يسحقوا تحته
Abdulrahman Syria هاد الصح اليد من حديد هدول خونة مابيفرقو عن اليهود بشي لهيك موتهم حلال .. الله يحمي الجيش السوري وكلنا معك
Slman Salame ياريت يضل محاصرهم ويقطع عنهم الماء والهواء ويخليهم في الظلام لأنو هنن هيك بيئتهم ونحنا مع الجيش والأمن حتى العضم
Yamen Mohamed انشاالله بيبيدوهم ابادة كاملة
Rahaf Sleman له ليش للمسا يللا هلأ بفرد مرة خلي أهل بانياس يناموا مرتاحين..بعدين كتير حلو يصير محل المنطقة المتحصنين فيها مدينة ملاهي

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April 12th, 2011, 1:56 am

 

2. syau said:

NK,

Well, its about time something was done to quash this nonsense!
The comments by the people are comments of ones who have had enough and it’s not only their voices, there is a growing amount of poeple who have had enough. The only sad thing is that it took until the soldiers were murdered until this is happening.

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April 12th, 2011, 2:27 am

 

3. Majhool said:

Impressive religious imams

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April 12th, 2011, 2:33 am

 

4. Syria Almighty said:

It’s about time the army swung into action. Hopefully the town is kept intact, and that only the terrorists are executed.

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April 12th, 2011, 3:17 am

 

5. abbas said:

Dr Landis:
France 24 reported that your relative was shot for disobeying orders to shoot on protesters, and since you said his house was in Banyas and he is married from the city I see how he could refuse to shoot, and a caller on one channel from Kuwait named Abdullah said he is married to a cousin of your relative and reported the same story.
Is there any truth to this story? and do you know someone living in Kuwait?
P.S: if you don’t answer I’ll take this as a yes

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April 12th, 2011, 4:12 am

 

6. Revlon said:

#5. Dear Abbas, thank you for your input.
The whole truth of what really happened in Banyas is still unknown.

Lieutenant Rami qattash was not named in the regime’s “List of Martyr’s”
Rami’s death has been confirmed by his brother.
The brother’s story is now well known: Field execution, for disobeying orders!
The government has neither offered an explanation for Rami’s death nor listed his name in the “Regime’s list of Martyrs”

The regime has told the truth about the death of the listed individuals.
They have not told the whole truth about how many more were killed, and their names.
They have not told the whole truth about what did really happen.

The claim made by your scource in Kuwait casts more doubt about the regime’s account of the tragedy.
It is quite possible that MUTINY has indeed started in the army, as the republican guards, with their limited personnel and logistics, are trying to engage the larger army resources in their crackdown on the peaceful revolution.

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April 12th, 2011, 4:28 am

 

7. N.Z. said:

It is puzzling why the unrest took an uglier twist in Lattakia and Banias as compared to Daraa and other inner cities and villages.

Daraa is a regime made disaster. It was a confined incident that the regime chose not to deal with, wisely and swiftly. This incident was bound to end, had the regime brought the head of the mismanaged incident to justice. It will had proven that Syrians are equal regardless of their affiliations. They chose to insult Syrian intelligence, by accusing infiltrators and other nonsense. To add insult to injury, the long awaited address by the president was shortcoming.

Let us not forget the bloody 80s. You may choose to ignore it or endorse it, but the reality it will never go away, it is one of the ugliest chapters of the father.

Democracy is inclusive of all colours of a society. Labelling and eliminating people on the mere basis of their political, religious or ethnicity hinders unity.

Invoking secularism by the president added insult to injury. In the past the father did not hesitate to sacrifice thousands of Syrians because they differed with him, Mothers, fathers and siblings were robed of their loved ones, so the dictator will rule with an iron fist. He was robbed of his heir in a car accident.

Egypt revolution is a proof that Muslim Brother is an exaggeration by Mubarak’s regime to scare the heck out of the population.

The situation is escalating and wisdom needs to prevail by all, regardless of our little affiliations. Syrians most come out united if we chose to act intelligently rather than emotionally.

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April 12th, 2011, 4:41 am

 

8. abbas said:

I think the reason Latakia and Banyas turned this way is because people there are sick of the shabiha and the immunity the government give to these individuals, It’s known that Latakia is the play ground for the spoiled sons of the officials that believe that laws don’t apply to them and laws are made to be broken, lets face it, there are a lot of them now and they have a reputation they have to keep, some people from the mountain try to show they are connected and powerful, exactly like the Saudi royal family princes, buy in Syria they don’t have an official salary so they try to get rich by smuggling drugs and weapons and anything in between and the security forces let them be because they might need them one day ( like now ). that why there will never be reforms in Syria because a lot of powerful people are benefiting from the way things are now

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April 12th, 2011, 4:57 am

 

9. syau said:

N.Z.

It seems on many occasions people are referring back to the incident in the 1980’s. Are we not supposed to be focusing on the here and now? Do your research and understand why that happened.

People weren’t sacrificed becaused they differed with him. Between 1976-1980 there was a spark in insurgency by the MB attacking many government officials, military units and outposts, infastructure and security officers just becaus they were pro Baath regime. In 1980, they declared jihad against the Baathists. Insurgency continued for the next 2 years,where they continuously attacked security personell, civilians and infastructure.. Then in 1982 they murdered 83 young Syrian cadets in one single attack. That is when Hafez Assad declared war on insurgency – prior to the attack, he warned all citizens of Hama to leave immediately as he will be attacking the terrorists, so that the chance of innocent people dying is reduced. A terrorist organisation was wiped out. Not to mention that there was 2 attempts by this organisation on the Presidents life, one where a granide was launched and he merely kicked it away and the other was smothered by one of his bodyguards – who actually survived.
This organisation was eliminated for the safety of the poeple of Syria….NOT so President Hafez can “rule with an iron fist”. He was once regarded as the most powerful and influential leader in the Arab world.. That wasn’t only because of his good looks:) He then continued on governing his country while promoting national unity and continued to be the driving force behind modernising Syria.

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April 12th, 2011, 5:29 am

 

10. Off the Wall said:

Almighty
It’s about time the army swung into action. Hopefully the town is kept intact, and that only the terrorists are executed.

No arrests? no trials?, simply executed…. how sick and barbarous is this statement?.

I believe that your posts have frequently transgressed on everything most of the posters on this site cherish despite of their deep differences and have become a clear call for outright murder.

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April 12th, 2011, 5:33 am

 

11. N.Z. said:

Abbass, so in your opinion are they ordered to create chaos or they are acting solely?

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April 12th, 2011, 5:34 am

 

12. syau said:

Off the wall,

Capital punishment is the means for dealing with murderers in Syria. Funnily enough, it also exists in western countries like USA… Countries like Singapore, Indonesia and so on. Are they considered barbaric for there laws… If you do the crime, you do the time or in some countries according to there laws, execution.

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April 12th, 2011, 5:51 am

 

13. Off the Wall said:

SYAU
Don’t take me and others for dumb, it is not only insulting to us but to you. This is not the time or place to discuss capital punishment, and you are avoiding/diverting the real issue. Your buddy was advocating the army intervention to execute terrorist… it looks to me, and I would argue that it also looks to most people that the post was a call for summary execution, which is illegal and can constitute a violation of several articles in Syrian and International law.

You are defending the indefensible, a I do not give a damn on which side you stand.

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April 12th, 2011, 6:15 am

 

14. N.Z. said:

SYAU,

Erasing the past is wishful thinking, but emerging from the past stronger and united is needed.

What is wrong then is a blunder now. Elimination is never the answer, one party rule + corruption is a recipe for disaster.

With all due respect, the father did not modernize Syria he corrupted Syria, ask Mahatir Mohammad who wanted to do his thesis on Syria as a model for his country.

Let us not mix between Syria’s international policy, where most Syrians will not like to see a change, and Syria’s internal policies where most will agree that was and still is, ruled with an iron fist.

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April 12th, 2011, 6:29 am

 

15. Revlon said:

#13 Dear OF THE WALL,
SYAU, Almighty, and those who write likewise are either the same person or a few who share the same room in a Mukhabarat headquarter in Damascus!

No sane person, living in a free country, as he/they pretend they do, and enjoying a free and respectful life, would have such abhorent disrespect for human life, let alone human rights!

Do not bother!

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April 12th, 2011, 6:36 am

 

16. syau said:

off the wal,
It was not a call for anything. You are calling execution of terrorists babaric – what do you call gangs firing on innocent and genuine protesters to cause havoc in order to make it look like it was the armed forces.

The protesters or anyone else including the recent soldiers who were slain dont know what hit them… and all this because of outside power hungry, corrupt headhunters attempting to destabalise a government and crush any attempt of foreign investment to prevent it the country from growing economically… I call that barbaric.

As for advocating army intervention, well, it needs to be done to finally put a stop to these violent acts before anymore innocent people are killed. You are wanting arrests, trials, well that will happen, then justice will take its course and if a particular country has capital punishment, well I suppose those gangs went into it head first, knowing the consequences. They have to deal with it.

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April 12th, 2011, 6:42 am

 

17. syau said:

Also, you call us “buddies” because I dont bash the government and neither does Syria Almighty, well I can talk for myself and I can see the whole picture. I’m not clouded by my hatred for a government or the leader of that government, because I think he is a brilliant leader, just as was his late father, well then, I suppose I have MILLIONS of buddies and you and your minority government haters a huddled up in a small corner somewhere with the cowards who are behind this farce and controlling everything from outside the country.

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April 12th, 2011, 6:48 am

 

18. N.Z. said:

You can like them, yet you can criticize them. The era of idolizing one man is not beneficial neither for the country nor for the leader. As much as you love your children, yet, you criticize them. qalimat haq inda sultan jaeer. We are all culprits in this regard, either from fear or from carelessness, never from love of our country.

Let us move forward altogether, regardless of what the future holds. United, we must come together.

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April 12th, 2011, 7:02 am

 

19. syau said:

Revlon,

Obviously you all think the same, but what would I expect from a group of people who are only interested in looking at negatives.
I do not need to justify or defend myself to you, but I will tell you this. I hold the highest regard for the life that God gave to me and everyone else in this world. I am saddened at the loss of human lives I see being broadcast on the news. I saw the funerals of some of the soldiers slain in Banyas and my heart went out to their families. I cried when I heard their children speak. They were saddened by their fathers deaths, but they were focusing on the positives – their future educations and a positive life in the government one was looking to. all i am Wanting a halt to the violence by eliminating the terrorists behind these acts so that there is no further loss of human lives. I dont know about Almighty, but I am not living in Damascus. I have been there and I think its a beautiful place.

As for your respect for human lives and rights – you seem so eager to read AL FATIHA on the lives you think were lost curtesy of the army – (we all know thats not true). What about those who soldiers who died as a result of the rising insurgency in the country. What about the police men ambushed and injured/killed while going unarmed to keep the peace at one of your so called peaceful protests were there is loss of lives and damage to infastructure. Dont they deserve the Fatiha from you?

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April 12th, 2011, 7:09 am

 

20. syau said:

N.Z.

You are absolutely correct… I love my children, but if they step out of line, I am the first person to make sure they step back. Nobody is saying not to critisise the government if they do wrong in the eyes of there people, how else are they supposed to be heard, but not by using violence and trickery or trying to drive the country into a sectarian war. Alawi, Sunni and Shia have been living side by side for years. Why jeopardise that now by making these protests something they are not and constantly bring up the past in a biased way I might add, to divide the country. Do the people of Syria want to go back to living in fear according to their religious beliefs, I dont think so,

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April 12th, 2011, 7:21 am

 

21. Joshua said:

Abbas, You ask me if my wife\’s cousin, Yasir, was executed by Syrian military personnel because he refused to obey an order to fire on protesters from his home town, Banyas.

As I said in my story. I do not know who shot Yasir and I will not try to guess. I understand that there is a terrible hunger to understand the violence now overcoming Syria. Each side would like to blame it on the other for obvious reasons. Each side wants to believe that their own partisans are acting in the best interests of the nation and following their better conscience in trying to achieve their goals.

I wish I knew the truth about what happened in Banyas. I do not.

I am unaware of any relative of Yasir\’s living in Kuwait by the name of Abdullah or by any other name. My mother-in-law just arrived at our house two days ago and I have asked her. She does not know of any of Yasir\’s relatives living in Kuwait or if he has a cousin named Abdullah.

It is possible as Yasir\’s mother was one of 12 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. His father was one of 10. Yasir thus had many cousins, but Um Firas knows the family well. I will investigate further, but why anyone living in Kuwait would know who shot Yasir or why is hard to fathom. My hunch is that there is a lot of guessing going on.

I hope this answers you question.

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April 12th, 2011, 8:17 am

 

22. Off the Wall said:

SYAU
Your inability to see the different colors of the posts or hear their differing voices, discern their convictions, and recognize the diversity of their stances does not surprise me. We lived for eight years in the US under a president with similar with me/against me narrow view of the world.

I appreciate you trying to explain your point, but I am sorry to tell you, you still did not get mine.

You called me government hater, well I am extremely critical, critical, yes but hater? not in your wildest dreams. I am not capable of hating, but I am moderately capable of rational and critical thinking.

BTW, i used the term buddies

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April 12th, 2011, 8:55 am

 

23. syau said:

off the wall,

When you constantly badger someone, at times with reason, but other times just for the sake of badgering without looking at the whole picture, or entertaining other ideas, what is a person to think. Calling someone a “buddy” just because they might have simular views on some points,to me, that makes you not able to see the vast difference in people. Revlon even had the audacity to comment on us being the same person or being in the mukhabarrat in Damascus. Well I live half a world away with a leader of the country I live in who sometimes makes decisions I dont agree with, but I still respect her, her title, her standing and opinion. I do not go out with clubs, swards, knives or guns while under the umberella of a “peacefull protest”. I am glad you have said that you do not hate the government. There is hope yet that Syrians living both in Syria and abroad can unite for a common goal – the wellbeing of the Syrian people. As I have said, I have reletives living in Syria that I worry about every day, wondering if they are going to be the victim of evil trigger happy gangs.

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April 12th, 2011, 9:30 am

 

24. Australian -Syrian said:

Revlon,

You say that syau and Syria Almighty and those who write likewise are either the same person or live together. How do we know that you, Off the wall, and others are not the same person?
Just because people have simmilar beliefs and perspectives on things, it doesnt mean they are one.

I suppose all those por-Bashar protesters are just a couple of people who have magically duplicated themsleves? Living in a free country doesnt exempt you from being able to see the truth behind what is happening in other countries. But being blinded by hatred and stupitidy, as you are, proves that you need to get out more and see with your own eyes, how many people living in Australia, France, and all over the globe in other free countries, how they love and support Dr. Bashar al Assad.

I love Syria and want the best for it. But the best will only come with a great President. Who is our beloved Bashar. I respect human life more than you could think of. Thats why im studying Law and Politics, and have already planned on things i would like to change in this country regarding human rights. For the better.

So dont insinuate things that you have no clue about.

But apparently, because i think the way i do, im not sane! It feels good being insane. You should try it.

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April 12th, 2011, 10:00 am

 

25. nafdik said:

Joshua,

Thank you for you honest reply.

The army and protesters and even the so-called shabiha are all the sons of Syria. They all grew up in this mess that we created for ourselves.

It is painful to bring our country back to a place where our young can live a full and free life and not kill each other for the benefit of a few families.

Unfortunately only our youth have the courage to save us from this hell we created for them. I hope their blood was not shed in vain.

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April 13th, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

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