As Calm Returns to the Streets, Syrians Ponder Their Future

Syria experienced its first day of political calm in over two weeks on April 3. The Sunami of protest and youth awakening that swept over Syria as part of the earthquake that hit the Arab World over two months ago has profoundly shaken Syrians. So accustomed to being the “island of stability” in the Middle East, Syrians are now wondering how long the Assad regime can last.

The Baathist regime has presided over Syria for 48 years; Bashar al-Assad has been president for eleven since inheriting power from his father. Both remain in firm control, although badly bruised and shaken. Western accounts of the protest movement in Syria have been exaggerated.  At no time was the regime in peril. No officials resigned or left the country as happened in Libya. The Syrian army remained loyal to the president, unlike the armies of Egypt and Tunisia. And the protest movement that grew large in the Syrian countryside failed to take root in the cities. The number of demonstrators that turned out in Damascus, Aleppo, and Hama, three of Syria’s four largest cities- counted in the hundreds and not the thousands.

Damascus was the only one of these three cities to have demonstrations. There were four in all. The two most significant occurred early in the process on March 16 and 17. Dozens of young demonstrators marched through the al-Hamidiyeh and Hariqa souqs on March 16 shouting, “God, Syria, Freedom – is enough,” a chant that became the standard slogan of the movement that spread to other parts of Syria in the following two weeks. The day after, scores of human rights activists and the relatives of political prisoners demonstrated in front of the Interior Ministry. After Deraa flared up, the citizens of Damascus fell quite rather than getting on the bandwagon.

Aleppo, a hotbed of Muslim Brother support in the 1970s, was completely unaffected by the anti-government movement. Instead, Aleppines turned out in sizable numbers to support the government.

Hama was also unaffected. It was the city that the Muslim Brotherhood was able to take over in 1982 before having its old districts destroyed brutally by the regime. A friend from Hama, who was asked, “Why isn’t Hama rising against the regime and taking revenge?” answered, “Syrians demonstrate for their own reasons. Don’t ever think anyone in Daraa will shed a tear for Hama or the other way around.”  He said there is no great Syrian revolution – just locals having internal issues.”

In Homs, by contrast, a sizable protest took place near the old city on Friday. Demonstrators chanted “Allahu Akbar” and called for “Freedom”. It was localized; violence flared up at the end. There were wounded on both sides, including security forces. The protest in Homs indicates that the cities are not immune to the movement. The hallmark of the successful Middle Eastern revolution has been the ability of the protesters to overwhelm security forces in the capital city. Damascus dispatched over a million of its inhabitants to a pro-Assad rally, leading many to conclude that the broad public remains on Bashar’s side.

All the same, many suspect that the protest movement, even if contained and sporadic, may become a nagging problem for the regime. Business will be reluctant to invest. The five year economic plan that was rolled out last year already looks wildly unrealistic. Its centerpiece is the gamble that Syria can attract 10 billion dollars of foreign investment a year. This year foreign investment will probably be less than 2 billion dollars. Economic failure will compound the regime’s problems. Opposition members insist that the barrier of fear in Syria has been punctured and that the long contained waters of liberty will eventually sweep it away. Others argue that the government will hit hard at the opposition to rebuild the wall of fear, making the protest movement a short lived phenomenon.

Deraa has been the site of the greatest demonstrations and the most violence. Tens of thousands took to the streets; some one hundred persons were killed in there and in the neighboring towns; many more were wounded. The protests were sparked for a very local reason.  Fifteen high school kids were arrested for scrawling anti-government graffiti on the walls. But the long-term causes were not entirely local. The slogans chosen by the schoolkids mimicked those used by protesters in Egypt and their call for freedom. A six-year drought has also hit the entire East of Syria hard, devastating agriculture a ruining the wheat crop along with incomes just at the time that the youth bubble generated by decades of an elevated birthrates have brought frustrated and unemployed young onto the streets of Syria’s provincial cities. What is more, Deraa is a tribal region, which some blamed for the severity of the demonstrations. Tribal tradition requires local leaders to protest the incarceration of their children and for the members of the tribes to come out in force. Even today, the tribes can provide a vehicle of resistance to the central state. Arab and Kurdish tribes were some of the last social units in Syria to buckled in the face of central authority and national identity.

Latakia on the coast also saw several days of demonstrations and violence. This was surprising because it is the capital of the Coastal region dominated by Alawites. Twelve were killed. A number were also killed in Duma, a town outside of Damascus. Demonstrations broke out in many provincial cities indicating that opposition demands for curtailing corruption, lifting the emergency law, and greater freedoms and speedy reform have widespread resonance across the country.

What Has Changed?

Even if the government in Damascus remains powerful for the time being and Syrians cling to the stability it promises, there can be little doubt that we are witnessing a profound break from the past. The Arab Street has finally come into its own. Rulers will have to think twice before treating their people like sheep. Economic failure will be punished. The video phone has become the Arab equivalent of the six-shooter in the American West. It is the new “equalizer.” It offers a modicum of equity and justice to the ordinary man who can now hold his phone aloft to capture police brutality and send it to Youtube. Technology has been transformative. The recent unrest could not have been sustained without it.

The Syrian community abroad has been irrevocably reunited with Syrians inside the country. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this change. The young of Syria can no longer be isolated from foreign movements and intellectual trends. Those who go abroad used to become dissociated from Syria. Calling home was prohibitively expensive and returning made difficult by mandatory military service.  Technology has attached the two communities. Skype, Facebook, and email have been all important to this revolution. In the past, the brain drain siphoned off Syria’s best and brightest; opposition leaders were sent into exile. Now they are leading the the charge against the regime, pumping sedition into every Syrian household with Youtube and Twitter updates.

A number of Arab states, in particular Tunisia and Egypt, have earned the right to be called nations. Their people have stood up as one to demand sovereignty.  Although emergency rule has yet to be lifted in Egypt and a stable government has yet to take shape in Tunisia, there is good reason to believe they will. For other Arabs, particularly those of the Levant it is too early to make such bold statements about national integrity. The leading reason Syrians did not take to the streets in larger numbers is fear of communal strife and possible civil war. They do not dislike their government enough to risk going the way of Iraq. Among large segments of Syrian society, Bashar al-Assad remains popular. As a multi-ethnic and religious society, Syria could come unglued.

But in a four or five years, the next generation of Syrian youth will not remember the turmoil in either Lebanon or Iraq. Palestine will be a cause remembered only by grandfathers. Instead of defeat and hopelessness, invoked by Iraq and Palestine, young Arabs may well have the examples of Egypt and Tunisia. They may well be on the road to becoming the Arab World’s first democracies.

This begs the question of how long the Assad regime can last. Syria’s youth are no longer apathetic. They have tasted revolution and their own power. Many commentators have remarked on Bashar al-Assad’s stubbornness. He may be a “modernizer,” but not a “reformer,” is how Volker Pertes recently explained it. This is a polite way to say that he is not preparing the way for a handover of power from Alawites to Sunnis. Assad’s refusal to prepare the present regime for a soft landing spells bad news for Syria. The day that regime-change will come to Syria seems closer today than it did only a short time ago.

[End of article]

A friend has confirmed that the entire Syriatel network is down for the second day.  All 093 numbers are down.  MTN 094 is working.

The Syrian pound deposits saw their first increase in 2 week. 19 money exchange guys were imprisoned.

The Syrian stock market closed at its lowest level for a while. From a previous low of 1450.5 , it rallied to 1539.9 (close to 6%) and then moved right back down to close today at 1449.6. Not a calamity but worth watching and keeping an eye on. Volume was very low today so one cannot tell much. Saghir thinks that everyone is waiting for the economic team in the new government to be announced.

Also the amount of money people could make on the 10,000 dlr limit was amazing. Everyone was able to walk into a bank and buy 10,000 dlrs from a bank at one exchange rate and walk into the next exchange house and sell the dollars to them for a quick profit of 250 dollars. All in 5 minutes. All at the expense of central bank

Assad names new prime minister
April 3, 2011

(JTA) — Syrian President Bashar Assad appointed a new prime minister, former Agriculture Minister Adel Safar, and asked him to form a government. Safar’s appointment on Sunday — less than a week after the previous government resigned — came as thousands attended the mass funeral of at least five protesters who were killed over the weekend in the Damascus suburb of Douma.  Adel Safar is generally regarded as a respectable figure in a government that many had criticized for corruption. ….

At least 2,000 Druse in the Golan Heights demonstrated Saturday in support of Assad.

One Commenter writes: “He is from a village south of Damascus, so perhaps he was chosen to appease the people of rural southern Syria who represent most of the protesters now. This man has no history in economics at all.”

Syria Emergency Law Alternative Ready By Friday

DAMASCUS (AFP)–The commission charged with replacing Syria’s emergency law with new legislation will conclude its work by Friday, a newspaper close to the government reported. “Sources within the commission tasked with studying the removal of the emergency law said it will, by Friday, finish formulating the necessary legislation to replace the emergency law,” the Al-Watan newspaper said Monday.

Lifting Syria’s emergency law, in place since the end of 1962, has been a central demand of protesters in their three weeks of pro-reform rallies held across the country.

Al-Watan said the commission’s work is inspired by the “experience and legal frameworks of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, while taking into account both the dignity and  safety of all citizens”. “Its conclusions will be publicly discussed and the commission will listen to all views before the government passes the proposed legislation.” The newspaper report was not officially confirmed. President Bashar al-Assad had set April 25 as the deadline for the judicial commission to complete the task of drafting the new legislation to replace the emergency law.

One European friend who works in Damascus writes:

– Friday 25 March demonstrations came as a surprise to many and gave to all a sense of organization behind (regarding before the Friday 25 demons I already wrote to some of you an email).

– On Saturday 26 an Alawi (the minority sect in power, President included ) friend from Lattakia told me that they had to move to the countryside because there were people attacking Alawis. The news circulating in Syria were talking about “foreigners” (Jordanian, Yemeni etc.) going in to minorities neighbors shooting randomly, infiltrating protesters and shooting to police to provoke violent reactions, distributing poisoned food etc. Moreover there were terrorizing sms sent to people of an incoming sectarian violence against them. This became the official version of the Syrian media. Another Alawi friend in Damascus told me similar things witnessed by him. He belongs to a self defense group of Alawis in the Mezzeh Area called 86. The 86 area is an area in Damascus occupied by Alawis emigrants from Lattakia mountains when they took power. Successively the Alawi regime gave them this area, took from Damascene residents and owners. Patrolling this area he witnessed the police being attacked by young and much trained guys (“foreigner” accents even in this case) once their car was stopped. The car seized resulted later filled with weapons.

– Without any doubt and from the amount of witnesses from different sources something strange happened. Forces were trying to destabilize Syria bringing or menacing a sectarian conflict. Proves were given by the Syrian television. These proves were ignored by among others Al Jazeera.

– Now the reality it could be that real external forces (people mention Hariri group of Lebanon with Saudi help backed by USA and Israel) tried to destabilize Syria. Another thesis could be that Syrian secret service did so for the reason below.

– The only strong main legitimacy of this minority (predominantly “Alawi”) regime is the fact that it can assure stability and avoid sectarian violence like Iraq or Lebanon while permitting to a limited elite (predominantly Sunni Muslim but even Christian, Armenian, Drusi etc..) to develop economically and became rich. Once the spectrum or fear of sectarian violence is on the horizons, the majority of the people from all sects and especially all minorities will rally behind the President asking first of all security (at the price of freedom). No one, even most of the protesters (still a very small minority until now), want to become like Iraq or Libya.

– That is what happened and most of the people rallied for the President days after the Friday protests. Around 1,5 million or even more people went on the street in Damascus. Demonstration of support were held in quite all Syria.

– The people here are very upset on how Al Jazeera is covering the Syrian events. Many persons I know, not at all regime’s funs, now believe that the satellite channel has an hidden agenda on this issue. They claim (with proves) that Al Jazeera is showing false videos of demonstrations and that is ignoring other facts the Syrian government and media are reporting on the “foreign” hands behind the events. I can testify living here that the image and info Al Jazeera is giving about Syria events are at least “exaggerate” and not represent the real situation. In any case Al Jazeera is without any doubt contributing to exacerbate the situation and the “etats d’esprit”.

– After the demonstration in support of the President came his speech on the Parliament. I can assure you that except the supporters, very few people were happy. The expectations were high and he disappointed the majority. A lot of old stale smell went on the air. In my opinion the regime, confident after the demonstration in favor, decided to show it will not bow to “foreign” pressure and it will reform when it wants. The day after it was announced that commissions to study the “emergency law” as well as the “Kurdish question” and others issues will be established to study how to change. Many believe they are empty promises but they have no other choice than to believe.

– Then the yesterday protests came. The majority was hoping that things will get calm, it did not. The situation is very tense now. In reality the protests are still very small and even if distributed in many cities do not yet represent the will of the majority. The problem is just that the Syrian regime like all dictatorships are not used to dissent, to contestation and do not know how and want manage it. Europeans and Americans (westerns) have witnessed protests and know how things go smoothly there. You can see millions in the streets contesting the government (in Europe for example) and the government still in power after that. Here I really realized how fragile a dictatorship system is.

– You can rarely find dollars in the market now, I had to go to Lebanon to find some.

– A friend went to the bank to take some money and they give him only small pieces (200 SP equal to 4 dollars). The big pieces (1000 SP, 20 dollars) were not available. Many are taking their money from the bank scared of the future. This morning I had to visit 6 or 7 banks to find one delivering cash from the machine.

– Price of gold is very high, the top of ever.

– All international transfers are on hold for fear of capital flee. Tomorrow they must come back to normal.

– The port of Lattakia (the main entrance of goods in Syria) was closed until yesterday. I have been informed that today opened after around 1 week of closure.

– During the last week shops in Lattakia were closing after door and no clients on the streets.

– In the rest of Syria sales in general are down, people scared, but most of the people are living normally even if with tensions and electricity on the air.

– After the protests the government is giving a kind of general amnesty and asked its bureaucracy to speed all the procedures on hold, I mean: police is not stopping for infractions (I did not see a policemen writing), a friend get his paper approved after 4 years and half waiting for security approval (here everything needs security approval), I have been told about a lot of illegal constructions built during these days of chaos not stopped by the authorities, even Zara could open in the capital after for many years the owner could not get the commercial permission for the location (some voices are saying that it did without permission but exploiting the current situation) . Probably in this case worked a big help from Makhlouf (Syriatel the main mobile company owner as well as The duty free shops and many many more), the president cousin on the USA black list for corruption and 50% (or more) shareholder of the Zara and MD project.

– Why demonstrations on Friday? Because Friday is the day of common prayer for Muslims and is the sole day governments cannot forbid gathering of people. Probably if they could, dictatorships will forbid Friday prayers in many Muslim countries. As you can see, even controlling the Imams speeches and selection cannot guarantee the people avoid to express themselves freely once together.

– Things now (today) seem to get back to calm even if the air is tense. Maybe we have to wait next Friday to see more protests or maybe it will calm down.

– Now I really took too much time from my work. I hope that these notes will give you a better clearer idea of what is happening.

A note of a 19-year old young man’s thoughts (Bassam) about his participation in the Mar 15 demonstration in Hareeqa Damascus. It is being passed around. I cannot testify to it, but it would seem authentic.

Mar 15th., The Morning. I Thought – I am Scared

……Not sure when I actually fell asleep or for how long, but my sisters are getting ready to go to school. … The next few hours were a big blur to me as I don’t exactly recall how I spent them….

I got into a taxi and told him, to Hareeqa please. ……..My heart is beating about a thousand times a minute, my mouth is very dry I couldn’t even cough, and I am soaking with cold sweat. It is not too late Beeso, you can still go home and no one needs to know… No one can say you’re a coward… But wait, if I don’t do it, no one else would. …

A few minutes later, I started hearing some chanting. Allah, Syria, etc. etc. Oh no, I said to myself, the regime lackeys are at it. They must be chanting for Bashar. Wait a minute, I could swear they didn’t say Bashar. I walked a little closer to see what’s going on. There were not more than 5 guys chanting, Allah, Syria, Hourya ou bass. What am I hearing? This is actually happening you guys. This is it, I am witnessing the first demonstration against the regime! This is no longer outside of Syria. We are in Syria, we are doing it and in front of the security guys. I have no idea how it happened next, but from where I was standing, which was about 30 meters from the chanting guys, I started yelling with my cracking voice, Allah, Syria, Hourya (freedom) ou bass… I am telling you, God works in mysterious ways. I have no idea how I was suddenly surrounded by not less than 10 other guys, and they started chanting after me. By God, I am leading a demonstration against Bashar… Some of the guys whom I thought were security guys were among the people chanting with me. That’s it, we are going to be shredded to pieces if they catch us. Yes, I said “us”. I am no longer alone. I am surrounded by nameless people, people whom I have met only minutes ago, yet a unique kind of bond has formed over these short minutes. We ARE the good guys, and we are facing it, whatever it may be, together.

As we went on chanting, I looked around me at the pale-faced shop keepers. They were scared even to look at us. I could swear some of them were reciting verses of Quran, fearing for their lives, just because of what they’re witnessing. Local policemen started talking to us in such a caring way, “come on you guys, don’t do that, please go home”. Wow, funny how even a remote hint of accountability could change the attitude of an oppressor. Under any other circumstance, they would have been breaking in their army-issued boots on our behinds.

The chanting went on for about 15 minutes. Everyone whipped out their camera-equipped mobile phones, thank you Nokia, and started shooting footage of us. At some point, the people shooting videos out-numbered us 10 to 1. But they were not chanting, so they don’t count. Lo and behold, a few minutes later, about 10 minibuses arrived carrying the brave men of some elite unit and they wasted no time in grabbing people. And here comes the highlight of my experience. Those same pale-faced shop keepers started helping out… not helping us of course, but helping the brave men by pointing to them which direction everyone was running to, or what building entrance we escaped to. I thought to myself, am I not risking myself so we can all have a better life, including those loyal shop keepers? An older shop keeper even attacked us with a stick, of course in front of the brave men. I had prepared myself for everything, except for this. I yelled at him, we are risking ourselves for everyone, even for you and your kids. He simply cursed my father for such an outlaw offspring and yelled at me to do “it” away from his shop.

So we did some fancy running… Yes, years of soccer practice at the Jalaa club did pay off, thank you Mom and Dad. A few minutes later, most of us made it back to our merry ways back home (with the exception of the few unlucky ones who got caught and beaten by either shop keepers, security guys, by-passers, or by all). We did deploy some minor strategies afterwards, like not going home directly, not calling each other later, using code words like how was lunch, etc. etc.

Damascus seems different to me ever since that memorable afternoon. It feels like it never did before. Sometimes I go back to the crime scene, and I smile when I look at the fence I had to jump over, and at the street where I almost got run over by a passing car as I was fleeing the scene. It sure feels different. It feels more… “mine”. All in all that day, I did suffer a ripped sweater, a scratch on my hand, and a solid resolve. And by the way, I am not scared anymore.

Crisis in Syria; Holding the fort
President Bashar Assad is under intensifying fire but refuses to retreat
Mar 31st 2011 | DAMASCUS | The Economist

THE protests that started in the southern city of Deraa on March 18th have spread—and the regime of President Bashar Assad has so far been determined to crush them. Since March 25th, when many thousands of Syrians again took to the streets for the second Friday in a row, more than 40 people have been killed, raising the death toll in two weeks to more than 100—and many more than that have been arrested and tortured.

After the most recent bloody round of protests in Deraa, the nearby town of Sanamein erupted too: at least 15 people were shot dead. Protests have also occurred in Homs and at least a dozen other places. Most worrying for Mr Assad, they also broke out on a large scale in the port city of Latakia, leaving another score of people dead. It has long been a stamping-ground for his ruling family and a hub of his own minority Alawite sect, so the unrest has come dangerously close to home.

The regime has set about muzzling the media and issuing its own counter-propaganda. Visas for foreign journalists are hard to come by; entering Deraa, except in rare cases with an official minder, has been impossible. A well-orchestrated demonstration in favour of Mr Assad on March 29th drew tens of thousands of people onto the streets of Damascus, many of them genuinely keen to support him.

Yet the germ of protest has continued to spread. Trouble seems to be popping up in new places. Kurds in the north-east are getting restless. Local grievances have been amplified into national ones. Chants and banners in the crowds are calling for the fall of the regime. Posters and statues of Mr Assad and his father, Hafez Assad, who ruled Syria from 1971 until his son took over after his death in 2000, have been defaced.

Israel still has emergency law in effect, enacted by the Brits in 1945 and never annulled, and that’s the legal basis for the indefinite detentions and blanket gag orders and lack of transparency regarding the nukes and other things.

Many have been arrested.

Turkey will not accept anything that shakes the stability of Syria and supports Assad’s reforms …..

تركيا: لن نقبل بأي تصرف يؤدي إلى زعزعة الاستقرار في سورية وندعم ما قدمه الرئيس الأسد بخصوص الإصلاحات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية

Mr. Kerry’s statement could presage a hardening Washington line toward Damascus as political protests are expected to continue in Syria. So far, the White House has taken a cautious approach. The U.S. has criticized the Syrian government’s use of forces against its people. But President Barack Obama’s administration hasn’t indicated it might pursue punitive measures against Syria, such as new economic sanctions, in response.

World Bank To Host Meeting On Middle East Economies April
2011-04-02 By Bob Davis

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–World Bank officials have invited the leadership of regional development banks to meet here on April 14 to devise economic policies to help Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle Eastern nations trying to make transitions to democracy, according a senior World Bank official. The session comes as officials from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East are working on programs to help Middle Eastern countries make up temporary shortfalls caused by a drop in tourism and other economic turmoil. They are also studying policies to promote employment, especially among college-educated young people who have been the vanguard of some protests sweeping the region.

Where ‘Jasmine’ Means Tea, Not a Revolt
Published: April 2, 2011

BEIJING — Over the nearly four decades since President Richard M. Nixon established diplomatic ties with Red China, American politicians have clung to the idea that the growing ranks of Chinese entrepreneurs and college-educated strivers would one day find electoral democracy irresistible. But a stroll through one of the capital’s upscale malls quickly demolishes such idealistic notions — and instead makes you wonder whether China’s autocrats have struck on a flexible model of long-lasting rule.

At the Oriental Plaza mall, young professionals dressed in Nikes and Abercrombie & Fitch openly profess their admiration for Communist Party governance. ”Any change in the political system would just throw China into disorder,” said Guo Ting, a 30-year-old office assistant. “Our leaders are doing a good job.”

US hedges its bets on Syria: analysts

by Lachlan Carmichael Lachlan Carmichael

Sun Apr 3, 4:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Although the Assad regime in Syria has long been a thorn in Washington’s side, the Obama administration is not yet ready to throw its lot in with anti-government protesters there, analysts said.

The unrest gripping Syria comes as President Barack Obama pursues a new US policy of engaging with a former foe in a bid to promote a broader Arab-Israeli peace by driving a wedge between Syria and its ally Iran.

His administration may be hedging its bets because it will still have to deal with the regime if President Bashar al-Assad and his powerful security forces end up crushing the unrest.

Ammar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based Syrian dissident and democracy activist who has political contacts in Washington, said some US officials fear a change and prefer to work with Assad, at least for now.

“I think they will get there (to accept a change) in due course of time,” Abdulhamid told AFP.

“But for now… they are afraid that… Assad will not go out gently into that good night and therefore they might try to create trouble, and that will create a civil war type scenario.”

They fear it “will be either civil war or they will have to deal with an even more radicalized and anti-Western regime if the Assads came up in control again,” said Abdulhamid, who heads the Washington-based Tharwa Foundation.

However, the dissident said, such fears are misplaced because the Damascus regime can hardly become more radical than it is with its close ties to Iran and its support for anti-Israeli Hezbollah and Hamas.

Abdulhamid nonetheless welcomed the Obama administration’s decision to avoid showing undue fear that Islamists would emerge from the protest movement and assume power in Syria.

But Middle East analyst Marina Ottaway said such a threat may exist even though the Muslim Brotherhood was crushed after it was massacred in Hama in 1982 on the orders of Bashar’s ruthless father Hafez al-Assad.

“Has it gone underground, how quickly can it be revived, how much sympathy is there still for the Muslim Brotherhood? I have no idea and I don’t think anybody else has an idea on that,” she said.

The Obama administration is struggling to come up with a policy “case by case, country by country,” said Ottaway, who heads the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“You cannot say that because the US in the end decided against (former Egyptian president Hosni) Mubarak and (went) on the side of the protesters in Egypt, that it’s going to do the same thing in Syria,” she said.

Ottaway said US officials have more difficulty understanding the protesters and their movement in Syria because there has been a “greater void of political activity” and deeper repression there than in a country like Egypt.

The protests pose a problem for the Obama administration — which she noted is trying to improve ties with Syria to advance US policy — as it will have to assess whether the protest movement will succeed or be crushed.

“If this is something the Syrian government is going to repress quickly, then a policy of trying to find a way to work with the Syrian regime makes sense,” Ottaway said.

“If the protest (movement) is going to continue, and has real potential of bringing about change, then the US had better learn to work with the protesters.”

A senior European diplomat based in Washington said Western powers were concerned about what may replace the Assad regime.

“More than in Libya, you have some extremist networks, connections with Iran, Hezbollah,” the diplomat told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.

“If it is to have Assad out and a pro-Iranian regime in, that would not be the goal. It’s not an easy task to do for us

US Authorizes voluntary departure of all eligible family members of U.S. government employees.


WASHINGTON (AFP)–The United States Sunday said it authorized family members of U.S. government employees to leave Syria as it heightened a travel warning for the country being roiled by political unrest.

“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential for ongoing political and civil unrest in Syria,” the department said in a statement.

“We urge U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Syria at this time. The Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure of all eligible family members of U.S. government employees. U.S. citizens in Syria should closely examine their security situation in light of this and other recent developments and consider departing Syria.”

The statement updated a warning issued March 31 and reiterated some of the precautions called for at that time.

This is diplomatic retaliation against the arrest of 2 American citizens in Syria (released today). The department also warns of a possible increase in “anti-foreigner sentiment.” “Detained U.S. citizens may find themselves subject to allegations of incitement or espionage,” the statement read. The government said Syrian authorities do not notify the U.S. of the arrest of a U.S. citizen until days or weeks after an arrest, and requests for consular access go unanswered, especially in the case of those detained for “security” reasons.

Middle East crisis: Inside Syria’s ruling family

But there is also a lingering belief, one held by Dennis Ross, President Obama’s principal Middle East advisers among others, that Mr Assad would reform if he wasn’t held back by an old guard he inherited from his father and predecessor Hafez. …

Comments (82)

Opal said:

Thanks for the thoughtful and balanced coverage Joshua. You are currently second on my morning list of go-to bookmarks, with the State Department Travel page at #1. So I was intrigued with your comment beneath the new State Dept warning re voluntary departure of government employees:

“This is diplomatic retaliation against the arrest of 2 American citizens in Syria (released today).”

If this is the case, I don’t understand what the diplomatic goal is. The American citizens were released, which is a good thing… So why wait until now to add this?

April 4th, 2011, 9:14 am


majedkhaldoon said:

When people talk on the phone ,they speak in symbolic representations,such as,the food is not cooked yet, there are rocks in the freekeh.

April 4th, 2011, 9:26 am


aig said:

All the economic signs you mention are pointing at serious inflation and a possibility of hyperinflation. The solution is to raise interest rates, freeze wages and reduce the money supply. However, it seems the regime has decided to spill oil on the fire and raise wages across the board.

April 4th, 2011, 10:51 am


ziadsoury said:

To all,

I have 2 discussions topics and would love to hear from all of you (prof Landis please chime in).

Can you tell me what the end game in Syria is? Do you think Syria will turn into a monarchy where the Asads are the ruling family? Syria will be a democracy? Or MB will take over soon after Asads leave? Please expand on your answer. Please answer all the Ws (when, where, how,….).


The Ba3th party history that Norman posted had the following which caught my attention:

“Syrian politics took a dramatic turn in 1954 when the military regime of Adib al-Shishakli was overthrown and a democratic system restored. The Ba’ath, now a large and popular organisation, gained representation in the parliamentary elections that year. Ideologically-based organisations appealing to the intelligentsia, the petty bourgeoisie and the working class were gaining ground in Syria, threatening to displace the old parties that represented the notables and bourgeoisie. The Ba’ath was one of these new formations, but faced considerable competition from ideological enemies, notably the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which was intrinsically opposed to Arab nationalism and was portrayed by the Ba’ath as pro-Western, and the Syrian Communist Party (SCP), whose support for class struggle and internationalism was also anathema to the Ba’ath. In addition to the parliamentary level, all these parties as well as Islamists competed in street-level activity and sought to recruit support among the military.”

To me, Syria in 1954 had:
– Free elections
– A popular Ba3th party
– Minorities (Christians in particular) were being elected to power by muslims
– Very progressive political parties
– Political Islam was either non existent or very minimal

Then by 1963, the ba3th took power by a military coup. So they used free elections to gain representations then they eliminated their competitors by military might.

Now in 2011, after almost 50 years of Ba3th control we have none of the above (actually extreme opposites) and we are told that if we have free elections the MB will hijack the system.

So what happened? Where are the progressive parties and agendas?

Looking forward to your answers.

I will be on a business trip where I can read the responses but not reply.

April 4th, 2011, 12:57 pm


Vedat The Turk said:


Are Euros & Dollars Available in Syria?

I am trying to poll whether there has been a run on hard currency (Euros, Dollars or Turkish Lira) in Syria. During any instability this is always a good barometer of what is actually going on. Are the wealthy elites hoarding foreign reserves in the event of a collapse of the central government? Or is it readily available?

I spoke with family / friends and they said that hard currency was next to impossible to get in Alep and Qamish. If anyone has contact with friends / family in Syria please ask and post what you are able to find out. Also the regional exchange rate money merchants are charging would be a good source of info.

Thanks in advance.

April 4th, 2011, 1:02 pm


Bill Abraham said:

Dear Josh,

I read with pleasure your excellent, lucid and penetrating analysis of the dynamics which played a major role in the disturbances which have rocked Syria as of late and the competing forces which are currently keeping a festering volcano from immediate full-scale eruption. This is what I was anxiously awaiting.

“The Syrian community abroad has been irrevocably reunited with Syrians inside the country” is something which had never been previously mentioned and this linkage is undoubtedly a major factor stirring and emboldening latent restiveness to find expression.

I also wholeheartedly concur that unless Bashar takes some bold and visionary steps to pave the way for not only to reduce the repressive nature of the security apparatus and emergency laws, but also to create institutions for transition of power that are not predicated solely on Alawite succession, the results will be catastrophic. However, I do not agree that the best answer to 40 plus years of autocratic rule under an Alawite monopoly of power is for Bashar to usher a new era by “…preparing the way for a handover of power from Alawites to Sunnis”.

Obviously, Sunnis represent the majority denomination in Syria, but should that mean that power should default to Sunnis only? Wouldn’t that necessarily just be preserving the same system based on a narrow monopoly of power, only this time by explicitly acknowledging that only Sunnis should govern by virtue of their numbers? By inference, this would seem to institutionalize exclusion of Christians and other minorities from any opportunity to aspire to leadership. If the goal is to transition into some form of egalitarian, parliamentary or electoral process, then qualification to leadership should be based, at least in part, on a candidate’s credentials, experience, and popular support without any prerequisite or mandatory requirement of membership in any particular sect in a truly free and secular Syrian state.



April 4th, 2011, 1:07 pm


SOURI said:

Like I expected, Bashar seems now more willing to bow to the will of the people, that is, the will of the Islamists in particular.

Bashar licenses a new “Institute for Sharia and Islamic studies:”

For those unfamiliar with “Islamic studies” in the Arab world, Islamic studies in the Arab world are not academic studies but are just a name given to places were students are supposed to memorize the old Sharia books of the middle ages. There is no “studying” at all that takes place in these institutes. People are not even allowed to discuss anything written in the old sacred Sharia books. They just have to learn what the books say and that’s it.

So basically Bashar now is licensing more teachers of Sharia Law.

There is obviously an Islamization trend that is beginning in Syria now. I could feel it in Bashar’s speech.

The Syrian regime has become too weak to resist the Islamists, and what we will see in the next stage is more and more Islamization of the state and society in Syria. Syria is going to turn into something similar to pre-Mubarak’s Egypt.

I doubt Joshua’s prediction that the younger Syrian generations will see an example in Egypt’s revolution. Egypt is obviously going to become more Islamist, which means a more failed and less successful country. What example for the generations is that? Islamist states have never been a good example for anybody. Who likes his country to be like Iran or Saudi Arabia? Only the radical Shia and Wahhabis would like that.

So on the sociopolitical level, Syria is going to lose significantly. The rise of Islamism in Syria will mean less national unity and more sectarianism, which means that democracy will become harder to apply. The rise of Islamism will also mean significant reduction in public freedoms, especially the freedom of expression, and this means that the public culture in Syria will further deteriorate and ignorance will increase.

On the economic level, we still can’t say much because we have not seen the new government yet; but if Bashar decides to bow to the will of the people in economic matters too, then we must expect that the economic reform process will be put in the fridge. Of course, like Joshua said, Syria is not going to attract 10 billion dollars of investment this year. This was a long shot even before the current crisis.

To summarize everything, Syria is doomed. This country has no future, and I can’t see how such a fragile country can survive given this bleak outlook of the future. Of course, this is not new. People have always doubted that this country is viable. When the Baath came to power in the 1960’s, many foreign observers expected the country to collapse very soon, especially after the 1966 coup. Surprisingly however, Hafez Assad managed to glue the country’s parts together by a brave and brilliant use of force and repression.

Syria was an artificial country since it was first created in the 1940’s. The Sunni feudal rulers who ruled Syria in the 1940’s tried to unite the country by using force, intrigues, and neglect against the dissident minorities. Throughout the 1940’s, the Alawis, Druze and Ismailis never had any political representation in the government. Their regions were deliberately deprived from government projects and services. The ruling Sunni elite tried repeatedly to incite civil instability in their regions. Shukri al-Alquwwatly once said “our goal is to make the Druze Mountain destroy itself by itself”. He was referring to his attempts to make the Druze villagers rise against their feudal masters from Al-Atrash clan. The same genius plan was also tried in the Alawi mountain. To justify their persecution of the minorities, the Sunni feudalist elite used the regular historical Sunni racist propaganda which accuses the Alwaites of being traitor infidels and agents of France. They assassinated Salman al-Murshid, an Alawi leader and religious reformer, after they accused him of being a French agent who proclaimed deity. This racist sectarianist elite even tried to convert the Alawis into Sunnism, and they had government plans designed for that purpose.

Of course, during Adib Shishakly’s rule things got only worse. Adib Shishakly was probably the most racist sectarianist Sunni who ever ruled Syria after independence. It is not surprising that he was assassinated by a Druze.

All this use of force and repression, which was sectarianist and feudalist in nature, glued Syria together until the Baath rule. When the Baath came, many people expected that the political rise of the minorities would lead into civil war and division. This did happen indeed, but Hafez Assad managed to end the war swiftly and with minimum casualties. Unlike the old Sunni feudalist elite, Hafez Assad and the Baath raised the banner of secularism and equality. This helped him isolate the radical Sunni Islamists from most of the Sunnis. In a country like Syria, the only way that people can live together peacfuly is through secularism and equality. This was the Alwaite demand since the French mandate period. The Alawis and the other minorities always called for a secular country that guarantees equality for all. The Sunni Islamist never acepted this pricnicnple, and they still incist on the sectarian Islamist model of rule. This means that the Islmists refuse to live in peace with the Alawis and the other minorities. When you refuse peace and equality for all, there is nothing left other than war and division.

Syria’s main problem is its Islamist population. They must understand that they cannot turn the clock back to the Ottoman model of rule. Unless they understand that they cannot rule the minorities by force (including the secular nonreligious minority to which I belong), there is definitely going be wars and serious troubles in Syria.

April 4th, 2011, 1:53 pm


AIG said:


Foreign currency is also a good hedge against inflation. So the fact that it is being hoarded does not always indicate government instability. It sometimes just indicates economic instability.

April 4th, 2011, 2:13 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

It looks like a pattern is emerging here: (1) Generally speaking, the demonstrators are Sunni and the demonstrations are Sunni motivated (2) All other sects, including the Christians of course, are united against this protest (3) The Kurds so far remain sitting on the fence, and their demand is limited to having a Syrian citizenship (how sad).

The bad news (or the good, depends on your sectarian origin) is that one day in the future, Syria will become (or actually will return to a state of being) a Sunni ruled state. A condition of political incongruousness is limited in time and in nature. It’s possible to enforce it with the gun, but not for long.

The same as Lebanon will one day be ruled by Shias, the same as Iraq already is. Abnormalities are unsustainable.
So fasten your seatbelts. It’s gonne be a bumpy ride.

April 4th, 2011, 2:23 pm


why-discuss said:

Souri and Amir in Tel Aviv

A sunni state next to a shia state next to a jewish state: the dream of Israel and you!

April 4th, 2011, 3:30 pm


why-discuss said:

Egypt ready to re-establish Iran diplomatic ties….
An addition to the Syria-Iran-Lebanon-Turkey block?

CAIRO (Reuters) – Cairo is ready to re-establish diplomatic ties with Tehran after a break of more than 30 years, Egypt’s foreign minister said on Monday, signaling a shift in Iran policy since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

“The Egyptian and Iranian people deserve to have mutual relations reflecting their history and civilization,” said Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby after meeting Iranian official Mugtabi Amani.

It was the first publicly announced meeting between officials from both countries since Mubarak was toppled on February 11, handing power to the army.

Shi’ite Muslim Iran and mainly Sunni Egypt severed ties in 1980 following Iran’s Islamic revolution and Egypt’s recognition of Israel. Both have competed for influence in the Middle East.

Egypt has long been an ally of the United States and Israel but since Mubarak was toppled there have been signs of warming ties between Cairo and Tehran.

“Egypt is open to all countries and the aim is to achieve common interests,” Elaraby said, adding that Cairo welcomed “opening a new page with Iran.”

Amani carried a message from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who welcomed Egypt’s initiative.

“Foreign Minister Salehi … called for developing bilateral cooperation, beginning with hosting Egypt’s foreign minister in Tehran or having Iran’s foreign minister visit Cairo,” Menha Bakhowm, spokeswoman for Egypt’s foreign ministry, said in a statement.

In February, two Iranian warships passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal after approval from the military rulers in Cairo. Israel called Iran’s move a provocation.

Egypt and Iran have been at odds on a number of issues including the Middle East peace process and ties with Israel and the United States.

(Reporting by Marwa Awad; editing by David Stamp)

April 4th, 2011, 3:36 pm


NAJIB said:

Any balanced Analysis of the the events of the past two weeks in Syria must take into account the millions who showed support for Assad in all Syrian provinces as well as the protests against Assad.

Mr Landis simply dropped this fact from the equation (a sort of a mental chutzpah!) and moved on to conclude “Assad’s refusal to prepare the present regime for a soft landing (meaning handover of power from Alawites to Sunnis) spells bad news for Syria.”

Any clear headed person knows that framing the question of reform in syria in confessional or taifi terms is a recipe for civil war and the division Syria into several mini states.

Joshua, i am beginning to suspect that your wife is an Alawite secessionist and that you are falling under her influence 🙂 .

i am obviously joking . or am i ?

April 4th, 2011, 4:48 pm


Leo said:

ZiadSouri @ 4,

You bring forth a very important note. It’s also worth noting that when the Baath Party participated in the free elections of 1954 and 1961, the Baath never won the most seats in those parliaments. They were 2nd in 1954 as a party behind the People’s Party and 3rd in 1961 behind the People’s Party and the National Party. Most of the parliament would consist of independents that would later join with the either the People’s Party or National Party’s voting bloc. The Baath had to resort to a military coup d’état because they knew that they were too ideologically extreme for the average Syrian. During their 50 years in power, they altered the constitution in a way that that would grant them monopoly of power and altered the history curriculum and removed any positive references to the period pre-1963. They portray that period to be a period of chaos and that it was only necessary for the Baath to bring about their coup and save the country. It’s time for the Syrians to know the real truth about that era and I am hoping that Prof. Landis would shed more positive light on that era in his new book.,_1947,_1949,_1954,_1961

April 4th, 2011, 5:21 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

No I do njot think that Syria will become Monarchy,it is run by a family from the Alawite sect,they plan to inherit the rule like a monachy,but it would not go as they wish, MB will not take over Syria,in a democratic election.
The real Baath party was different in the past, now it is run by people who are oppurtunistic peolpe who hijacked the Baath,infact this is the regime who assasinated Salah Bitar in Paris,they do not believe in Union,nor in freedom, they are corrupt ,they do not believe in helping the poor,the only thing they care about is to stuff their pocket,with stolen money and bribes.
some of the SC member they either benefit from the regime,or they deceive themselves,some lack the morality to be neutral,and you can tell who they are , they usually attack personality or say words like E3lak,they cannot discuss things rationally.
Where are the progressive parties? they are still there,they are powerless ,if they talk they will be in jail, they may have left syria, or placed in jail like H.Maleh or Aaref Dalilah.

April 4th, 2011, 6:32 pm


Shami said:

Souri stop your scare scenario ,the islamists can only rule if they become as moderate and rationalists than the turkish akp and even better.Despite the increase of bigotery in these last decades ,the Syrian people remained moderate inwardly and would not elect radical islamists.
What is sad ,is that during Asad years Syria has seen the percentage of its christian population decreasing from 12 % to less than 5%,christian strong presence and influence in the past had positive effects on the inter-religious co existence.
For Aleppo ,the christian population’s percentage decreased from 20 % to 5% in 3 decades.
Amir,many leaders in the opposition are christians,druzes and alawites.
In general,educated and non corrupt people from all syrian communities do not support this regime.

April 4th, 2011, 7:22 pm


SOURI said:

To predict Syria’s future, we need to know how its social components will evolve and behave.

The largest and most important social component is the Sunni Islamists (traditionally known as the reactionaries الرجعيين), who perhaps represent about 50% of the population. The Islamists do not believe neither in democracy nor in nationalism (despite what they say sometimes). Their explanation of the word “democracy” is simply that they should rule Syria and do whatever they want since they are the largest group. They want to create in Syria a political regime similar to the pre-national states that ruled Syria during Ottoman times and before.

The other social components are the religious minorities (Alawis, Druze, Chrisitians, Ismailis, Shia, nonreligious, etc.) and the Kurds. All those minorities refuse Islamist rule. So we have a major conflict here. This conflict has been going on since the French mandate until now.

The Sunni “nationalist” elite that opposed the French mandate claimed that it was nationalist and against sectarianism and reactionism. However, their practice was very different from their proclaimed ideals. Their rule proved to be reactionary and nondemocratic, so they lost the confidence of the minorities as well as the progressive forces of society. This is the reason why many non-Islamist Syrians today don’t trust the secular Sunni politicians who claim to be democratic and non-Islamist. Most of those people are corrupt opportunistic hypocrites and few people trust them.

So it is obvious that the Syrian society is sharply divided. There is a huge rift between the Sunni Islamists and the other social components. We live in two different planets. One camp wants to move forward and abolish all the sectarianist laws and sectarianist social practices, and the other camp wants to draw things back and restore the old Ottoman millet system. We want more social freedoms, and they feel bitter and angry at the freedoms we currently have.

What is the solution? Currently there is no solution. Things are getting worse. The growth of Wahhabism and the influence of the Wahhabi Saudi media is making the Syrian Islamists more radical and vicious. The rift is widening.

Either the Islamists change and accept to live in a secular and liberal society, or the country will eventually divide. I don’t expect the minorities to accept to live under Islamist rule. Why would they accept such a thing? It would be insane. The non-Islamists should never sacrifice their freedom no matter what it takes. I expect the Alawis and other minorities to fight for their freedom. There is no point in accepting to live under Islamist rule. The Islamists do not accept nationalism, so what is the relationship that is going to unite all these social groups? The relationship of slave-master does not work anymore.

April 4th, 2011, 7:28 pm


Nour said:

لجنة رفع قانون الطوارئ قد تنهي عملها خلال ساعات أو أيام…الدراجي: ليس الهدف استبدال قانون بآخر بل ضمان كرامة وأمن المواطن

أكد عضو اللجنة المكلفة إنجاز تشريع جديد يمهد لرفع حالة الطوارئ إبراهيم دراجي أن عمل اللجنة لا يهدف لاستبدال شيء بآخر، بل توفير الأرضية القانونية الكفيلة بأن تحقق التوافق بين مبدأين هامين هما أمن الوطن وكرامة المواطن، مشدداً على أنه لا تعارض بينهما إذ لا يمكن أن يكون الوطن آمناً إلا عندما يتمتع المواطن بحقوقه الأساسية. وبتوجيه من الرئيس بشار الأسد شكلت القيادة القطرية الخميس الماضي لجنة تضم عدداً من كبار القانونيين لدراسة وانجاز تشريع يضمن المحافظة على أمن الوطن وكرامة المواطن ومكافحة الإرهاب، وذلك تمهيداً لرفع حالة الطوارئ على أن تنهي اللجنة دراستها قبل 25 نيسان الجاري.
وأشار الدراجي في تصريح لـ«التلفزيون السوري» إلى أن اللجنة في طور البحث عن البدائل والخيارات الموجودة والاطلاع على التشريعات المماثلة، لافتاً إلى أن الكثير من الدول لديها تشريعات خاصة بمكافحة الإرهاب مثل الولايات المتحدة وفرنسا وبريطانيا والعديد من الدول العربية مثل قطر والإمارات وعمان، وقال: نحن نقوم بالاطلاع على التجارب المماثلة بما يتفق مع القانون السوري والتشريعات السورية وتطلعات الشعب، وهذا هو المحور الأساسي الذي تعمل عليه اللجنة بتوجيه من الرئيس الأسد من أجل تقديم المقترح الأمثل الذي يحقق هذا التوافق الخاص بين أمن الوطن وكرامة المواطن، موضحاً أن هناك تشريعات غربية تتضمن نصوصا تتعارض بصورة فجة مع الحريات الأساسية واتفاقيات حقوق الإنسان، وهناك نصوص تجنح إلى نزع الجنسية في حالات أخرى وليس بالضرورة أن يكون ما نطلع عليه قابلا للتطبيق، فنحن نبحث عما يتناسب مع الدستور السوري وما يحفظ كرامة المواطن السوري وهذا هو الهم الأساسي.
وشدد الدراجي على أن لا قيد على عمل اللجنة، وإنما المعيار الواضح هو أمن الوطن وكرامة المواطن وفي سبيل الوصول إلى هذه الغاية فإن الخيارات القانونية ستكون متاحة، بمعنى أن ما يطرح سواء كان تشريعاً قانونياً خاصاً أم غيره يهدف إلى نتيجة واحدة وهي أمن الوطن وكرامة المواطن وأي وسيلة تكفل تحقيق ذلك سنقوم باتباعها، وما سيصدر سيكون ضمن الأطر الدستورية والتشريعية، فما نبحث عنه قانون وطني أو تعديل قانوني لا يستهدف الحد من حرية أي كان، ولكن يكفل أمن المواطن بالدرجة الأساسية. وأضاف: نحن نطلع ونقيم حتى نصل إلى النتيجة المرجوة، مع الأخذ بالحسبان طبيعة التحديات التي واجهت دولاً أخرى وهل تتشابه مع التحديات التي تواجهها سورية، وكذلك مع الأخذ بالحسبان أن سورية من الدول التي صدقت 13 اتفاقية متعلقة بمكافحة الإرهاب من أصل 16 وهذا يفرض على الدولة خريطة موائمة.
وعن السقف الزمني لعمل اللجنة أوضح الدراجي أن السقف هو الخامس والعشرين من الشهر الجاري، مشدداً على أن العبرة بإنجاز الشيء المطلوب فإذا أنجز خلال ساعات أو أيام فسيتم رفعه مباشرة.
وأكد الدراجي أن القيادة ترغب في صياغة الشيء الأمثل ضمن الفترة الزمنية، معربا عن تفاؤله بأن يتم تقديم شيء جيد ومناسب خلال فترة قريبة جدا.
وأشار الدراجي إلى أن اللجنة في حالة ورشة عمل قانونية قائمة ومستمرة على مدار الساعة، وهي تضم مجموعة من الشخصيات الحقوقية والقضاة المختصين في مجالات متعددة.

April 4th, 2011, 7:28 pm


Syria1 said:

Not sure where you are getting your numbers from but the Christian population is at least 12%. So many of those that worked and lived in Dubai and abroad have returned and a good percentage of the Iraqi’s are also Christian.

The Patrachia and the Pope requested that America, Canada, and Australia refuse visas to Chridtians to ensure that they remain in the holy land.

April 4th, 2011, 7:33 pm


Nour said:

التحقيق في أحداث درعا واللاذقية قد يشمل ضحايا دوما…الرئيس الأسد يعين محافظاً جديداً لدرعا…وسفر يركز في استشاراته على البرنامج قبل الأسماء…قانون أحزاب أقرب للنسخة المصرية بعد الثورة للنقاش العام قريباً

عين الرئيس بشار الأسد اللواء الركن المتقاعد محمد خالد الهنوس محافظاً جديداً لدرعا
في مرسوم جاء بالتوافق مع بدء رئيس الوزراء عادل سفر مشاورات لتشكيل الحكومة القادمة ركزت على برنامج العمل أكثر منها على أسماء المرشحين، في وقت كشفت فيه مصادر لـ«الوطن» عن قرب طرح قانون الأحزاب الجديد للنقاش العام، كما كشفت عن لقاء بين فعاليات عربية وكردية سورية يتم التحضير له على مستوى عال.
وأدى الهنوس أمس اليمين القانونية أمام الرئيس الأسد الذي استقبله وزوده بتوجيهاته وتمنى له النجاح في مهامه وفق البيان الرئاسي.
ووفقا للمعلومات التي انتشرت عن الهنوس، فإن الرجل جاء من خلفية عسكرية، حيث خدم خمسة وعشرين عاماً في محافظة درعا، تمكن خلالها من بناء علاقات جيدة بأهالي المنطقة، وتمثل إعادته إليها محافظاً في ظل الظروف التي تعانيها البلاد، تأكيداً لاختيار شخص قريب ومعروف عند الأهالي ويتمتع بشخصية منضبطة ذات خبرة إدارية واجتماعية كبيرة تمكنه من ضبط الأمور على المستويين الشعبي والرسمي لإعادة الحياة إلى طبيعتها في المحافظة.
من جهة أخرى علمت «الوطن» من مصادر حزبية سورية أن رئيس الوزراء المكلف عادل سفر بدأ أمس استشاراته لتشكيل الحكومة الجديدة.
وقالت المصادر لـ«الوطن»: إن سفر استقبل ممثلين عن أحزاب الجبهة الوطنية التقدمية وعدداً من الشخصيات الحقوقية (لم تذكر اسمها) وبحث معهم في برنامج الحكومة المقبل وليس في الأسماء.
وأضافت المصادر: إن سفر استمع من الذين التقاهم إلى وجهة نظرهم وإلى الآليات الواجب اعتمادها لتنفيذ الإصلاحين السياسي والاجتماعي (الوحدة الوطنية)، كما استمع إلى تحليلهم للأحداث الأخيرة وما يجب أن «يتخذ من إجراءات سريعة لوأد الفتنة والمحاسبة وإعادة الطمأنينة للنفوس والأمن والاستقرار إلى سورية».
وأكدت المصادر أن سفر أكد خلال اللقاءات ضرورة أن يأتي برنامج عمل الحكومة الجديدة ملبياً لطموحات كل المواطنين السوريين.
وفي سياق مشابه توقعت مصادر سورية رفيعة المستوى أن يتم طرح مسودة قانون الأحزاب قريباً بحيث تخضع للنقاش العام، علماً أن المسودة أصابها تعديلات على تلك التي طرحت في المؤتمر القطري العاشر لحزب البعث. وقالت المصادر لـ«الوطن»: إن الغرض من النقاش «هو إغناء المسودة» خصوصاً بعد التعديلات التي طرأت عليها، حيث أشارت المصادر إلى أنها ستكون قريبة من قانون الأحزاب في مصر بما في ذلك التعديلات التي طرأت عليه بعد الثورة.
وأوضحت المصادر أن تلك التعديلات «لا تمس الأساسيات» التي من بينها ما يمنع تأسيس أحزاب على أساس ديني أو طائفي أو إثني.
ورجحت المصادر ذاتها أن يلحق بقانون الأحزاب قانون آخر للإعلام بحيث تناقشه الحكومة القادمة بهدف إقراره، وهي الحكومة التي من المتوقع أن يتم تشكيلها مع بداية الأسبوع القادم على أبعد تقدير.
وفي موضوع متصل علمت «الوطن» أن تحضيرات تتم لعقد لقاء على مستوى عال في الدولة مع وجهاء عرب وأكراد وذلك في إطار «تعميق العمل على تعزيز الوحدة الوطنية في سورية»، علما أن لجنة دراسة إحصاء 1962 ما زالت تعمل وباتت توصياتها بحكم الجاهزة.
وفيما يتعلق بلجنة التحقيق التي تتولى الكشف عن أسباب سقوط عدد كبير من الضحايا في كل من درعا واللاذقية فهي بحسب المعلومات المتوفرة لا تخضع لجدول زمني «بسبب طبيعة التحقيق»، ومن المرجح وفقاً لمصادر مطلعة، أن تشمل لاحقاً التحقيق في أحداث مدينة دوما أيضاً.

April 4th, 2011, 7:33 pm


SOURI said:

The truth behind the revolution in Syria:

The worst scenario for Syria is to end up like Mubarak’s Egypt. I prefer that things escalate and a bloody clash erupts between the regime and the Wahhabis. We need to get rid of the Wahhabis.

April 4th, 2011, 7:39 pm


Nour said:

Syria promises to unveil road map to end emergency laws by Friday

Syria authorities will unveil new legislation to replace the country’s dreaded emergency laws before the weekend, a newspaper considered close to the government has said.

The al-Watan newspaper reported on Monday that sources in a judicial commission studying the issue had said “it would, by Friday, finish formulating the necessary legislation to replace the emergency law.”

Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, had responded to a wave of violent unrest in the country by setting an April 25 deadline for the commission to study the revocation of the emergency law.

Syria’s emergency law, which has been used to impose drastic restrictions on political and personal freedoms ever since the ruling Ba’ath party took power in 1963, was a key demand of protesters who led three weeks of unprecedented pro-reform rallies across the country.

Al-Watan said the commission’s work is inspired by the “experience and legal frameworks of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, while taking into account both the dignity and safety of all citizens”.

The newspaper also reported that a separate committee investigating the street violence in Deraa and Latakia, where protests were met with deadly force, had questioned “many witnesses and will soon end its work.”

Mr al-Assad has already moved to placate protesters by replacing the governor of Deraa, an agricultural town near the Jordanian border where dozens have been killed in two weeks of unrest.

Mohammad Khaled al-Hannus was appointed governor of Deraa in place of the reviled Faysal Kalthum, who was sacked on March 23 at the height of a brutal crackdown on anti-regime rallies that left dozens dead and the governor’s residence in flames.

Residents of Deraa had also accused the former governor of undermining their property rights and preventing farmers from drilling water wells for irrigation.

A lawmaker from the region issued a scathing indictment of Mr Kalthum’s administration in Syria’s parliament, accusing security forces of opening fire “without mercy” and criticising the president for not offering his condolences to the victims.

It is unclear if the regime’s actions will help defuse the pro-reform movement, which brought thousands on the streets last Friday. In one sign that the authorities fear further unrest, the Syrian football federation has indefinitely postponed the domestic football league.

April 4th, 2011, 7:46 pm


NK said:

للنشر …….. إنجازات د.عادل سفر من عام 2004

لقد أثبتت الإحصائيات الحكومية و التي تم نشرها على مدى السنوات السابقة و في ظل حكومة العطري، في الجرائد الرسمية التي تصدر في سوريا، على مدى الجهد المبذول من قبل الدكتور سفر، و التي جعلته يترأس قائمة المرشحين لرئاسة الحكومة الجديدة و ذلك بمرسوم جمهوري رقم/134/ بعد أن تم قبول استقالة الحكومة السابقة بالمرسوم الجمهوري رقم /133/، و هذا ما دعاني لإعادة فتح أوراقي و استخراج هذه المعلومات

و إليكم الآن الإنجازات العظيمة

1- انخفاض انتاج القمح في سوريا من 3 مليون طن إلى مليون طن فقط

2- انخفاض انتاج القطن من مليون طن إلى 300 ألف طن

3- استيراد بذار القطن المصاب بآفات خطيرة دمرت المحصول

4- استيراد بذار للقمح أضعف الانتاجية

5- انخفاض الثروة الحيوانية في سوريا نتيجة تعطيل مشاريع تربية المواشي في البادية و المراعي الخضراء، لفتح باب استيراد اللحوم الفاسدة و المجمدة و إطعامها للشعب -هذا طبعاً بعد أن تم سحب بعض المواد المجمدة(كلحم الجاموس، و السمك) من الأسواق نتيجة فضائح في المستشفيات الحكوميات بعد حالات التسمم-

6- ارتفاع أسعار الأسمدة إلى ثلاثة أضعاف السعر السابق

7- تراجع المساحات المزروعة لكافة المحاصيل الأساسية (قمح، شعير، شوندر، قطن) نتيجة التخريب المتعمد، لجعل السوق السوري فارغاً و يحتاج للاستيراد

8- ارتفاع أسعار الأعلاف للحيوانات و الطيور و بالتالي ارتفاع أسعار اللحوم إلى أكثر من ثلاثة أضعاف السعر السابق

9- بيع أراض استملكتها الدولة إلى شركات عقارية /مجهولة الجنسية/ بأسماء عربية

10- ازدياد مساحات التصحر نتيجة توقيف مشاريع الزراعة الرعوية في البادية ، مما أدى إلى تهجير الناس (أكثر من 60 ألف عائلةحسب احصائيات المنظمات المعنية بالشؤون الإنسانية في العالم)

أما على صعيد الجزيرة السورية، والتي تعني محافظات الإهمال والفقر السورية الثلاث “الرقة، وودير الزور، والحسكة”.

جزيرة وسط عطش، وظلام، تمثل مساحتها 41% من الجمهورية العربية السورية، وتبلغ المساحة المزروعة فيها 42% من إجمالي المساحات المزروعة في سورية، كما تبلغ نسبة المراعي والمروج 42% من إجمالي مساحة المروج والمراعي في البلاد. كما تمثل الموارد المائية للمنطقة 57.6% من إجمالي موارد الجمهورية العربية السورية. ونسبة السكان تشكل 17% من إجمالي السكان. إنتاج القطن فيها 69% من مجمل الإنتاج الوطني، والقمح 70%. أما الشوندر السكري 33%. والأهم، كل النفط السوري فيها. بحسب إحصائيات رسمية سورية. هي الأكثر خيراً، لكنها الأكثر فقراً، وإهمالاً

و يمكنكم العودة في كل ما سبق إلى الجرائد الرسمية التي صدرت في السنوات السابقة، و الانتباه إلى أن حجّة الجفاف الذي أصاب سوريا، قابلها حملة عنيفة ضد كل المزارعين الذين قاموا بتركيب آليات بسيطة لجر المياه من نهر الفرات و الذي يعد مياهاً وطنية، حيث يتعرض الفلاح لغرامة مالية تفوق دخله و دخل أقاربه، أو المحاكمة على أساس جرم ارتكبه

فأنت يا عزيزي المواطن، و أنتِ يا عزيزتي المواطنة، ما الذي تتوقعونه من حكومة سيترأسها دكتور قمنا بتعداد خصاله فيما سبق ؟؟؟؟؟

April 4th, 2011, 7:58 pm


Shami said:


Un des intervenants a souligné l’existence d’une étude sur ce sujet
qui n’a jamais été exploitée. Le chiffre qui a
été avancé était alarmant pour la sale : il ne
reste en Syrie que 4,7 % des chrétiens. Leur
nombre s’élevait à plus que 15 % au début des
années 1970. Les deux évêques ont essayé de
contester ces chiffres. En revanche, ce chiffre
est revu à la baisse par plusieurs religieux qui
ont requis l’anonymat : « Nous ne sommes pas
plus de 3 % » disent les uns, pour les autres
« nous sommes encore en dessus de la barre des
5 % ». Il est cependant presque impossible de
trouver des statistiques réalisées par l’Église ni
par l’État. Aucune volonté d’une part et d’autre
de souligner cette hémorragie.

April 4th, 2011, 7:59 pm


Off the Wall said:

Please decide, at least between two consecutive posts whether the regime is the victor or is it the islamists. Reading your posts is one source of my headache. Not because I agree or disagree, but because you seem not to be able to settle on one. As secular as I am, I find your analysis of the Islamists to be more like that coming from an islamophobe than from a secular thinker.

Thanks for the post. I really do not remember having studied the names of political leaders in Syrian history books, and I was a history buff. I agree with you, text books, TV programs, and an entire propaganda machine worked very hard to detach that period from Syrian history. It is no wonder why Syrian’s can not draw back on that rich history with all its failing and successes in moments of needs.

You are a lawyer, can you read from the article you posted signs of things to come. I am not reading good news, I hope you are.

Not that I am impressed with the record of the new Syrian PM, please do not dismiss the impacts of a natural disaster such as sustained drought. A more rational argument is that of failure to plan ahead knowing that the region is first known for high climate variability, and anticipating that the arid semi arid regions such as Syria are in fact the second canary, after glaciers and ice-caps, for climate change.

As for cotton, cotton is one of the most water demanding crops. It is a legacy crop on which dependency should have been reduced over years of well planned policy. But the numbers you site are scary. Something must have gone really wrong in policy circles.

April 4th, 2011, 8:07 pm


Off the Wall said:

I am really astonished about importing bad seeds. Whatever happens to developing a national seed stock?, anyone knows what company these seeds came from?

This seems to be a recurring problem.

April 4th, 2011, 8:21 pm


NK said:

This was posted on Haitham Maleh’s Facebook page, I agree with you, the drought caused a lot of that damage, I just wonder what did the government do to ease the impact of this drought, the numbers are indeed scary, and it looks like this guy didn’t lift a finger while he was in office.

Maybe someone more informed can shed some light on this matter.

April 4th, 2011, 8:35 pm



Thanks NK, as for your own question, based on information i havem very little, very late, and too chaotic. I think Syria , and most Arab countries are in a desperate need for National Disaster Management Policy. The most efficient, in the region, that I know off is the one adopted in Oman. I hope the Syrians, at some point in time send someone to talk to our Omani brothers.

Did you see Elias Khouri new article in Alquds Alarabi. If not, here it is. Just be careful reading him, he is a dangeruous Islamist 🙂

لاضافة السورية
الياس خوري

في تونس انطلق الشعار: ‘الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام’، وفي مصر تشكّل الميدان، فصار ‘ميدان التحرير’ اطار التوازن بين سلطتي الجيش وثوّار 25 يناير. اما في سورية، التي تتفتق فيها الانتفاضة الشعبية وسط الدم والترهيب، فلقد اضيف شعار جديد الى شعارات الثورة: ‘الشعب السوري ما بينذلّ’. كما ارتفعت كلمة الحرية، ملخصة الهدف والمشروع.
الشعب لا يُذلّ، ويرفض الاذلال. كلمة الذلّ تثير كلّ المواجع. ما معنى ان ينتفض شعب ضد اذلاله؟ وهل يمكن اقناعه بأن يعود الى بيت الطاعة بعدما اكتشف انه يستطيع ان يصرخ في الشوارع.
ان تنطلق كلمة الذلّ من الحناجر، فهذا دليل على ان الناس تصرخ من اعماق الألم. كلمة ذلّ هي اشدّ الكلمات وحشية والتباساً، الى درجة ان ابن منظور لم يجد مرادفاً لها في ‘لسان العرب’، ففسرها بنقيضها: ‘الذلّ نقيض العزّ…والذلّ: الخِسة، وتذلل اي خضع’…
لم يجد ابن منظور في نفسه القدرة على شرح كلمة خسيسة الا عبر نقيضها. فالاذلال يجمع الاخضاع الى الهوان، ويتضمن امتهان الكرامة، ويقود الى الشعور بفقدان الهوية الانسانية.
التونسيون والمصريون التقطوا الشعار السياسي، اما السوريون فانهم صاغوا الشعار الأخلاقي للثورات التي تجتاح العالم العربي. فهذه الثورة هي في جوهرها ثورة اخلاقية، انها دعوة الى استعادة الكرامة الفردية والجماعية.
ليس الجوع والفقر، على الرغم من وجودهما المخيف هما سبب الانتفاضة. الشعوب تثور لكرامتها اولاً. لا ادري كيف لا يشعر الديكتاتور وبطانته بأن الناس لم تعد تحتمل. هل كان بن علي وحرمه وافراد عائلتها يعتقدون ان الشعب التونسي يستطيع ان يصبر اكثر على الاذلال اليومي؟ ماذا كان يعتقد حسني مبارك وبلاط زوجته وابنه الذي يستعد لوراثة ابيه؟ هل كانوا يعتقدون فعلا ان الشعب المصري يستطيع ان يبتلع الاهانات اليومية واعتداءات رجال الأمن على كرامات الناس؟
الشعب السوري ابدع العبارة الأساسية، ورفع شعار مقاومة الذلّ، وهو بهذا رسم للأفق العربي الجديد معناه.
يخطىء النظام السوري اذا كان يعتقد انه يستطيع رشوة الشعب. الملك السعودي اعتقد انه ابعد الكأس عن نظامه، عبر رمي عشرات المليارات من الدولارات، لكنه واهم. اهل درعا صرخوا في مظاهرتهم، ‘الشعب السوري مش جوعان’. حتى لو جاع الناس، فان كراماتهم هي المسألة اليوم، وشعورهم بأن سيف القمع وحكم قانون الطوارىء ومناخات الترهيب فقدت شرعيتها.
عندما يعلن شعب رفضه للذلّ، فانه يطرح سؤال الشرعية. ما لا تستطيع الأنظمة الحاكمة منذ اربعة عقود استيعابه هو ان الانقلاب العسكري وحكم الحزب الواحد والاستبداد باسم الشعارات القومية فقدت شرعيتها التاريخية، وصار تداعيها مسألة وقت لا اكثر. لم يعد هناك من يستطيع انقاذها من مصيرها المحتوم. والسؤال لم يعد عن السقوط بل عن كيفيته.
المهرّج الليبي حوّل سقوطه الى مجزرة، ثم الى انقسام بين الشرق والغرب، ثم الى تحالفات قبلية، مما استدعى التدخل الخارجي، وهو يناور اليوم كي يخرج من السلطة بحصة لابنه الذي وعد الشعب الليبي بالدمار!
اما الديكتاتور اليمني، فانه يلعب السلطة حتى الثمالة، ويهدد بتفكيك اليمن قبل ان يرضخ لثورة شعبه.
في البحرين دخل الجيش السعودي بدرع الخليج كي يسحق ساحة اللؤلؤة، متناسيا ان جزيرة العرب مليئة بالساحات، وان القوة الغاشمة لا تصنع اي شرعية.
مشكلة النظام العربي الأولى، هي ان فقدان شرعيته الداخلية بات امرا جلياً، وان لجوءه الى الاستعانة بالخارج وبالدور الأقليمي لم يعد يفيده في شيء. السعوديون والخليجيون لا يستطيعون اعطاء الشرعية للنظام السوري لأن شرعيتهم سقطت ايضاً. كما ان الدور الأقليمي المستند اساساً الى ضبط ‘الارهاب’، لم يعد بضاعة صالحة، فالنموذجان التونسي والمصري، اعلنا ان الثورة في العالم العربي انهت هذه الهستيريا التي هي في الأساس بضاعة امريكية. كما ان اسرائيل والسعودية رغم كل ضغوطهما لم تستطيعا انقاذ رأس حليفهما الأساسي حسني مبارك.
اما مشكلته الثانية فهي ان الشعب اعلن انه يرفض ان يُذلّ. لقد أُذلت الشعوب العربية طويلاً بتلك النظرية التي تقول ان النظام هو الكيان، وان سقوط النظام يعني تفكك الكيان الوطني. وللمناسبة فان من صكّ هذا التعبير الأجوف هو زعيم الفاشية اللبنانية، مؤسس حزب الكتائب الراحل بيار الجميل. ورأينا ماذا كانت عاقبة هذا الشعار الأحمق على لبنان وعلى الكتائبيين انفسهم.
كلا النظام ليس سوى عقد اجتماعي، اما الدولة فهي اطار ثابت وهي ملك جميع المواطنين، وانظمتها وقوانينها خاضعة للتبدل.
لا يُخفى على احد وجود محاولات للتلاعب بالمسألة الطائفية، لكن الشعب السوري اكثر وعيا من السقوط في هذه الهاوية، ولن يسمح لأحد بجرّه اليها. فهذا الشعب الذي اثبت حتى الآن حكمة كبرى في تحركاته العفوية، انتظر ثم تحرّك جزئياً، لأنه اراد ان يعطي النظام فرصة الاتعاظ من تجارب الدول العربية المجاورة، كي تتجاوز سورية ازمتها مع النظام من دون سفك الكثير من الدماء البريئة.
غير ان الدم سال، والألم ارتسم على وجه الأرض.
الحكمة لا تعني الاستسلام، وهذا ما اثبتته دوما ودمشق وحمص وبانياس والقامشلي واللاذقية ودرعا.
رسمت الحكمة خطها الأحمر الذي تجسده كلمتان: الحرية ورفض الذل.
هذا الخط تلّون بدماء الشهداء، ولن يكون في مقدور احد ان يتجاوزه بعد اليوم.

April 4th, 2011, 8:49 pm


NAJIB said:

how long the Assad regime can last.?
It bet you, it will last longer than the US Treasury bubble.

The Syrian community abroad has been irrevocably reunited with Syrians inside the country. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this change.

Absolutely true , but so far this reunion has led a great number of Syrian expats in

New York ,
allentown,PA ,
Los Angeles,
London ,
Stockholm , to manifest and show support for president Assad. and these are just few examples.

April 4th, 2011, 9:00 pm


SOURI said:

These measures should help the regime regain some standing against the Islamists:

Unless the current Islamist revolution ends with a bloody defeat for the Islamists, Syria will become another Egypt and the regime won’t last long.

April 4th, 2011, 9:06 pm


NK said:


I read that earlier, I agree that guy is a dangerous ISLAMIST 😉

This was published by Al Jazeera yesterday

The ghosts of Syria
Syrians claim that roaming gangs of thugs have turned peaceful pro-democracy protests into violent chaos.

They are known to the locals of Lattakia as the ghosts – al-Shabeha – but when these phantoms dress up it is in black and their terror is tangible.

In a port city dominated by Sunni Muslims, who comprise three quarters of the Syrian population, and surrounded by mountain villages that are home to Alawites, a minority that has ruled over the country for 40 years, these roaming gangs of black-clothed thugs have turned peaceful protests calling for freedom into deadly chaos.

Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, warned in a speech this week that such gangs are part of a foreign plot to drive a wedge between Syria’s different religious and ethnic communities. But in interviews with residents, journalists and eyewitnesses in Lattakia almost all say the same thing: Shabeha are almost exclusively Alawites from the region, described by one reliable source as the private militia of the Assad family itself.

The spectre of chaos

Straddling Iraq to its east, which descended into sectarian slaughter after the US-led invasion, and Lebanon to its west, where competing religious identities fuelled a 15-year civil war, the spectre of sectarian strife looms large in Syria’s national psyche.

As well as Sunnis and Alawites, the country has a sizeable Christian minority, Druze and Ismailis. The largest ethnic minority are Kurds, some 300,000 of whom live without Syrian citizenship – fuelling a desire among some to breakaway and join neighbouring Kurdistan.

The fear of Syria splintering into rival communities has been used by the regime as a key justification for its iron grip on the country.

“The president has said Lattakia is a sectarian problem firstly to get carte blanche to quell it – no-one wants to see a new Iraq,” said a local political analyst who did not want to be named. “And second in order to mobilise minorities, Alawites, Christians and Druze out of fear of life under a Sunni majority. They argue it’s the regime or the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Yet eyewitnesses to the pro-democracy protests in Lattakia over the past fortnight insist they began with both Sunnis and Alawites calling for change together.

“The protesters were chanting ‘freedom, freedom’ and ‘no Sunni and Alawites, we are all Syrians’,” said Hiam Gamil, a youth activist in Lattakia.

A trusted source who has been gathering reporting from Syria since the uprising began on March 18 said: “It is not sectarian – this is the great lie of the regime. In video you see Sunni and Alawite walking side-by-side calling for reform.”

A video uploaded to YouTube on March 28 appears to show a meeting of residents of the Lattakia neighbourhood of Assalibiya discussing the crackdown on their protest movement, although its contents cannot be independently verified.

“They are lying to you when they say there will be sectarian war in the country. The priority now is to define our demands and who will represent us,” a man standing on a platform addresses the crowd.

A second man speaks: “Yesterday the TV said we killed two security men, to show that we are terrorists. But yesterday we caught two security men trying to create chaos and we handed them to the governor.”

Ghosts on the streets

Witnesses and journalists in Lattakia say that during protests in the city members of the shabeha have been used to instigate and fuel violence against protestors, in what many consider to be an attempt by the regime to divide the local Sunni and Alawite communities.

“The protesters were chanting ‘peaceful, peaceful’ while another group of people stood at the end of the street dancing to songs praising the president,” said a resident of Lattakia, an Alawite, who witnessed a protest last week.

“After a while, the two sides began fighting without any security forces or army present. Then there were people from both sides dropping dead from sniper shots. From both sides, those with the regime and the protestors.”

Only then did members of an official Syrian security force arrive on the scene, said the witness, but rather than tackle the gunmen on the rooftops they also shot at the pro-democracy protestors.

After that the streets were left to the shabeha. “We saw cars with armed men in the streets shooting at people indiscriminately – Alawite, Sunni, pro-regime or against the regime, everyone,” the eyewitness said, describing the city as being “in a state of terror”.

“The regime has made sure that no-one goes down and protests in Lattakia. They made an irreparable split with great ease …. They split Lattakia in two and the tension will remain. The excuse of sectarian conflict succeeded, greatly succeeded, unfortunately.”

As many predicted, the authorities later claimed the fighting in Lattakia had been instigated by outsiders. “It is obvious Syria is the target of a project to sow sectarian strife to compromise Syria,” said Buthaina Shaaban, the president’s advisor.

Ali, a middle-aged Sunni shopkeeper from Lattakia, described a separate demonstration last Friday in which hundreds of worshippers had taken to the streets following prayers to call for freedom and pledge their support to the people of Daraa, the southern border city where the protest movement began.

He said plain clothes agents had turned the peaceful protest violent, triggering an armed crackdown by official security forces.

“Hundreds of security men in plain clothes demonstrated against us shouting pro-Assad slogans. They came close to us and started to push us,” said Ali. “It was then that the security forces began to fire on us. We were demonstrating in a peaceful and civilian way and shouting national slogans. None of us were shouting anti-Alawite slogans.”

A local journalist who says he has spoken to 10 residents of Lattakia over the past week said they had all delivered the same message about who the agitators roaming the streets were. “All of them are saying one thing: ‘They are shabeha’,” he said.

A Syrian political expert, who declined to be named, said he had no doubt the shabeha had been used on the streets of Lattakia. “They are the ones who are on the streets shooting people,” he said. “It’s a kind of out-sourcing: They are the regime, but they’re not the regime. The regime doesn’t want to take the risk of using an official security body to start the shooting of protestors.”

Syria’s state news agency has blamed the deaths of protestors on “armed gangs,” but has not explained why these gangs, little seen until now in the tightly policed state, have yet to target any of the large, exclusively pro-regime rallies.

Divide and rule?

Having emerged in the 1970s, when Hafez al-Assad, the president’s father, took power, the shabeha are nothing new to many Syrians but remain largely unknown to those outside the country.

According to a number of experts on Syria, the shabeha have easy access to arms through their close ties to Syria’s military and security forces, hail from the mountain stronghold of Qardaha, which overlooks Lattakia, and answer to the orders of local Assad family elders.

The gang’s wealth, according to sources, comes from distributing goods imported tax free through Lattakia’s port, which they control. During the 1980s they were reported to be heavily involved in smuggling drugs from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

In a widely viewed video on YouTube, which cannot be independently verified, a group described by Syrians as shabeha are seen beating a man local media reported as Abdel Majid Saadoun, the head of a private Syrian university. “Are you trying to get one over the Assad family?” shout the attackers as the man cowers on the ground.

Local journalists said Saadoun had been attacked last October because he refused to allow the entry of a female student, a member of the Assad family, when she arrived to take an exam after it had already begun.

One people

Mass protests demanding freedom broke out across Syrian cities again on Friday, beginning in Kurdish majority Qamishli in the north-east and spreading through the desert of Deir Ezzour across the central plains to Homs, west to the port city of Banias, down to the south at Daraa and to the suburbs of Damascus.

At least four people were killed after snipers on rooftops opened fire on a group of demonstrators calling for freedom in the Damascus suburb of Duma. Across the capital, groups of plain clothes security roamed the city armed with homemade bats. Sanamen, the southern city where at least 10 protestors were killed by security forces last Friday, was sealed off by the military.

Local activists have documented the killing by security forces of more than 150 Syrians in the armed crackdown against the unprecedented wave of protests against the regime.

But if the shabeha are seeking to divide, the protestors appear fully aware of the dangers.

“One, one, one!” chanted hundreds of worshippers trapped inside Damascus’ Al-Rifai mosque on Friday, after security forces refused to let them leave following prayers, fearing mass demonstrations. But that did not stop their voices being heard. “People of Syria are one,” they cried.

April 4th, 2011, 10:43 pm


NAJIB said:

how long the Assad regime can last.? Syria’s youth are no longer apathetic.

my mind kept lingering on this question.

In Syrian culture, we respect and dignify our elderly and view them as depositors of wisdom and collective conscious. Having lived on 3 different continents and come across many other other wonderful cultures, i have never seen any other people that venerate their parents and grands more than my Syrian friends. we always listen to what they have to say. Especially so in hard times. when wisdom is needed to inform action. and this is the case across all social categories , regions, and communities.

Furthermore, public opinion in Syria is formed through constant discourse and debate with family, friends, neighbors, anybody .. people live less in their individual bubble and social life tend to be dense.

From this one can expect that Syria’s youth will suffer less the “memory-lessness” and hedonism we observe in many of the youths in rich countries, or simply the generational gap that form in other countries under certain socio-economic pressures.

So there is no way that Syrian youth , in a four or five years,
can forget the turmoil in Lebanon ,Iraq, or Palestine unless this turmoil is over. How can they forget it when it is always shouting at them.

in my opinion the thesis that in a four or five years, the next generation of Syrian youth will not remember the turmoil in either Lebanon or Iraq. Palestine will be a cause remembered only by grandfathers. will only materialize , Iff (that is if and only if) the prediction of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that the end of the State of Israel is near , materializes ! . How else could the turmoil in Lebanon , Iraq or Palestine become a forgotten memory for Syrian youth ?

This is not to say that Syria will not face economic and political difficulties and hard times and choices , but it will definitely face them as a mature and cohesive society as it has demonstrated thus far.

April 4th, 2011, 10:50 pm


Yossi said:

Juliano Mer-Khamis assassinated in Jenin, a big blow to the spirit of bi-nationalism in Israel-Palestine, a big blow to humanity and non-violent resistance, a big blow to Israeli-Palestinian theatre and a big blow to the Palestinian “people” who are quite good at devouring their own flesh and blood. This is the work of Islamic zealots most likely… My heart aches… Juliano was a student of my mother when he was a teenager in Haifa, and I have met his brother Spartak once, many years ago. What was assassinated is hope, plain and simple.

April 4th, 2011, 11:00 pm


Norman said:

Is it possible that he was killed by a masked Israeli extremist to blame the Palestinians so no other Israeli will dare to fight for the Palestinian rights,

April 4th, 2011, 11:10 pm


Yossi said:

Hi Norman,

It’s very unlikely that such an assailant would make it safely in and out of the middle of the Jenin refugee camp + he was under the constant threat of the Islamists for (a) running joint drama classes for boys and girls and (b) for staging “Animal Farm” where some actors had to play the characters of pigs (You can see that in the video. Great beautiful and brave kids). We’ll see what the police finds.

April 4th, 2011, 11:32 pm


Shai said:


Indeed a very sad day and a great loss…

April 5th, 2011, 12:02 am


Ziad said:


Bad news indeed. A loss of one of a very small group. But I do not buy the Islamic Zealots theory for the following reasons:

– Islamists are very closely watched by both Fayyad’s forces and Israel.
– There are many coed institutions in Ramallah, the conservatory is one.
– It is not offensive for Muslims to a play the role of a pig. Eating or touching is.

On the other hand he must be loathed by the settlers and viewed as a traitor. Anyway it is all speculation until the killers are caught and questioned.

April 5th, 2011, 12:35 am


Badr said:

Assad’s refusal to prepare the present regime for a soft landing spells bad news for Syria.

Right on the money in my opinion professor Landis, and this “soft landing” does not have to entail a handover of power from Alawites to Sunnis, but hopefully could be accomplished through a gradual controlled reform to a truly secular, democratic and accountable regime.

April 5th, 2011, 3:27 am


Shai said:


I fully agree with Yossi. If a settler, or any other Jew, wanted to kill Juliano, it’d be much easier to do so inside Israel, any day, anywhere. Why take a chance you’d be lynched if caught in Jenin?

April 5th, 2011, 6:30 am


Akbar Palace said:

Bullets for Peace

Steven Plaut comments on the death of Juliano Mer-Khamis. Apparently Mer-Khamis isn’t the “angel” the Left makes him out to be…

Professor Josh,

Hello! Are you there???

You keep repeating that Assad is “popular” among the Syrian people. I hear that in every thread you write.

Question: Why doesn’t the President-for-Life hold a free election if he is so popular?

Could it be you are exaggerating?

April 5th, 2011, 7:37 am


Norman said:

Shai, Yossi,
Israel can not blame the Palestinians if it took place in Israel , The Israeli Government will be blamed there .

April 5th, 2011, 7:48 am


Shai said:


It’s not “The Left” that speaks so highly of Juliano, it’s everyone. Yesterday all the radio stations and TV stations were full of condemnation and sorrow expressed by everyone enlightened enough to recognize the achievements and contribution of this Israeli-Arab. Why is it that when Likud members push Netanyahu to release Barghouti from jail, they’re NOT supporting terrorists, but when anyone else does, he/she ARE? Is Hypocrisy only the domain of “The (nonexistent) Left”?

It’s so funny for me to hear YOU continue to rant about the phantom “Left”, as if that’s what’s holding back anyone. The Netanyahu government is clueless about what to do next, it has no foreign policy whatsoever, it advances no political agenda, it isolates Israel beyond anything we’ve experienced in decades, but… there’s a reason – “The Left!”…

And then, you pontificate throughout the year about the Assad Regime’s constant need for “outside enemies”, to blame all its failures on.

Hmmm… sounds a bit similar, doesn’t it?

April 5th, 2011, 9:45 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Juliano Mer-Khamis wasn’t a terrorist. He was an annoying smart-ass with an attitude.
If Shai and Yossi are lamenting, then it’s a sign that the rest of Israelis should not be. Or as we say זה טוב ליהודים.

Shai Yossi,
The method of the execution suggests that this has to do with matters of domestic nature, honor killing etc. Mer was a passionate person, both in his political life/views, and in his personal life. Could be someone in Jenin did not like his behavior regarding girls/boys, a behavior that is OK among the Jews, but not in the conservative Jenin. Let’s wait for the investigation to end, before jumping into conclusions.

April 5th, 2011, 10:33 am


norman said:

Yossi, Shai,Amir
What do you think?

نيويورك تايمز: شخصيات إسرائيلية مرموقة تطلق الأربعاء مبادرة للسلام مع العالم العربي

واشنطن- تستعد مجموعة من الشخصيات الإسرائيلية المرموقة بينها قادة سابقون في أجهزة الموساد والشين بيت والجيش لإطلاق مبادرة للسلام مع العالم العربي يأملون أن تحظى بدعم شعبي وتأثير على الحكومة الإسرائيلية التي تواجه ضغطاً دولية لتحريك عملية السلام.
وذكرت صحيفة (نيويورك تايمز) التي حصلت على نسخة من الوثيقة المقرر صدورها الأربعاء ان المبادرة تحمل إسم (المبادرة الإسرائيلية للسلام) وتقع في صفحتين واستوحيت بشكل خاص من التغييرات التي تشهدها المنطقة وتمت صياغتها كرد مباشر على مبادرة السلام العربية التي أصدرتها الجامعة العربية عام 2002 ومجدداً عام 2007.

وتدعو المبادرة الجديدة إلى قيام دولة فلسطينية على كامل الضفة الغربية وغزة تقريباً وعاصمتها القدس الشرقية، وانسحاب إسرائيل من مرتفعات الجولان ووضع مجموعة من الآليات الأمنية الإقليمية ومشاريع تعاون اقتصادي.

وقال داني ياتوم وهو أحد الموقعين على الوثيقة ورئيس سابق للموساد، للصحيفة “نظرنا حولنا لنرى ماذا يحصل في الدول المجاورة وقلنا لأنفسنا: إنها مسألة وقت أن يرفع الجمهور الإسرائيلي صوته أيضاً. نشعر أن هذه المبادرة يمكن أن تحصل على تأييد العديد من أعضاء المجتمع الإسرائيلي”.

وقال يعقوب بيري، وهو رئيس سابق للشين بت انه أرسل الأحد نسخة من الوثيقة لرئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو الذي رد بأنه يتطلّع لقراءتها.

وأضاف بيري في حديث عبر الهاتف مع الصحيفة “نحن معزولون دولياً ونعتبر ضد السلام. أتمنّى أن تقدم (المبادرة) مساهمة ولو صغيرة لدفع رئيس وزرائنا. انها مسألة وقت أن تبادر إسرائيل بشيء ما يتعلق بالسلام”.

و كان ياتوم نائباً في الكنيست الإسرائيلي عن حزب العمل وفيما انضم بيري وهو اليوم مصرفي الى حزب كديما المعارض، وهما اثنان من أصل 40 موقعاً على الوثيقة وهم جميعاً من اليسار الإسرائيلي، وبينهم أكاديميين ورجال أعمال وابن وابنة رئيس الوزراء الراحل إسحق رابين الذي اغتيل عام 1995.

وتهدف المبادرة إلى حل جميع المسائل العالقة بين الإسرائيليين والفلسطينيين ووضع حد للنزاع الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي، وتعترف “بمعاناة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين منذ حرب 1948 فضلاً عن اللاجئين اليهود من الدول العربية”.

وتقول المبادرة أنها تشاطر المبادرة العربية فكرة ان “حلاً عسكرياً للنزاع لن يحقق السلام ولن يوفر الأمن للأطراف”.

ويشبه حل الدولتين الذي تنص عليه المبادرة “مقاييس كلينتون” للعام 2000، وستكون فلسطين حسب هذه المبادرة دولة للفلسطينيين وإسرائيل “دولة لليهود (يكون للأقلية العربية حقوق مساوية وكاملة كما ينص عليه إعلان الاستقلال)”.

وتدعو الوثيقة إلى أن تكون خطوط العام 1967 الأساس للحدود بين الدولتين مع تعديلات يتم التوافق عليها على أساس تبادل للأراضي لا يتجاوز 7% من الضفة الغربية.

وبحسب المبادرة أيضاً ستكون الأحياء اليهودية في القدس المحتلة جزءاً من إسرائيل والأحياء العربية جزءاً من فلسطين و”جبل الهيكل” أي الحرم القدسي لن يكون تحت أية سيادة رغم أن الحائط الغربي (حائط البراق) والحي اليهودي من المدينة القديمة سيكون تحت سيطرة إسرائيل.

ويشار إلى أن إسرائيل احتلت القدس الشرقية في العام 1967، وضمتها إلى الشطر الغربي الذي كانت احتلته في العام 1948، وأعلنت المدينة عاصمة “موحدة”. ويعتبر الفلسطينيون القدس الشرقية عاصمة دولتهم المقبلة.
وحول اللاجئين الفلسطينيين، تقترح الخطة تعويضات مالية لهم وعودة إلى دولة فلسطين وليس إلى دولة إسرائيل “إضافة إلى استثناءات رمزية يتم التوافق عليها” تسمح بدخول البعض إلى إسرائيل.

وفي ما يتعلق بسوريا، تدعو الوثيقة إلى انسحاب إسرائيل من مرتفعات الجولان مع تعديلات طفيفة وتبادل للأراضي على مراحل لا تتجاوز 5 أعوام.

وقال ياتوم “نريد أن تظهر للفلسطينيين والسوريين المعتدلين بأن هناك أفقا جديدا وضوءا في نهاية النفق”.

April 5th, 2011, 10:39 am


Zenobia said:

Mer Khamis was a really interesting and special person – and it is plain to see that if you ever meet him in person or hear him speak about his work. I did have that occasion once when he came to California and presented Arna’s Children at the Film festival. He seemed to be a very excellent person, following in the path of his mother – Arna- who is depicted in the film, and this is confirmed by the accounts of many many people’s opinions being expressed today after this tragic event.

I think it is repulsive to present that Steven Plaut link – that is so nasty and reductionistic. Clearly this guy is having multiple orgasms every time he gets to say the word “terrorist” and he would like to apply that descriptor to as many people as possible. He must think that actually looks like a conclusive analysis. In fact it is nasty propaganda crap and especially vulgar under the particular circumstances.

On the other hand, Norman, give it a rest. We need not turn every interpretation to a conspiracy “plot”…it is tiresome and absurd. Lets apply some of the principle of Occam’s Razor in this pretty simple case. Mer Khamis was getting threats all the time from right wing Palestinians, increasingly so in recent times. So – you know- there will be an investigation…. and maybe it will be hard to find the specific person who pulled the trigger, but not that hard to figure out who ordered it. No need to defend those who should not be defended. There are plenty of self destructive and ignorant Pals in the vicinity of Jenin – who might not have been able to comprehend the self defeating and gruesome results coming from their own disdain for such an exceptional and wise person like Mer Khamis. Some people are wearing total blinders and can only see the dirty ground in front of them and have no imagination whether they live in a mansion or a refugee camp. And maybe he/they hated to see the flourishing fruits of a person who has a mind and heart that they can’t even hope to have.

April 5th, 2011, 10:49 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dear Norman,

I think that it’s a waste of time. Personally I prefer the option of the PA going to the UN to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. This will benefit everyone. It’s good for Israel, despite of the fact that many Israelis see this as a negative move.
Let them have their virtual state. It will put them in a bigger trouble than the trouble they have now.

April 5th, 2011, 11:17 am


norman said:


There nothing for me to tell you,

Apparently you do not think when you read, some people are like that and you are one of them unfortunately, i thought you were smarter and more polite than that,

April 5th, 2011, 11:39 am


Yossi said:


Thank you for your wise words. The movie Children of Arna is available to watch on YouTube, to whomever might be interested.


What happened? I don’t think Zenobia meant any disrespect, she just thought you were wrong. It’s still legal to disagree with you, right 🙂 And like I told you, I think she’s right.

About the peace initiative, sounds like “another one of those”… but we’ll see what happens with it. Perhaps it will help topple Bibi’s government (not that there is any other alternative at this point).


>>> Juliano … was an annoying smart-ass with an attitude.

Look who’s talking…

April 5th, 2011, 12:03 pm


Solitarius said:

someone is being a drama queen.. what Zenobia said is perfectly reasonable

what a tragic loss of a an inspirational person

April 5th, 2011, 12:03 pm


norman said:

Shai, solitarus,

This is what she said ,

((On the other hand, Norman, give it a rest. We need not turn every interpretation to a conspiracy “plot”…it is tiresome and absurd))

When Mugnenia and Sulaiman died in Syria , did we hear that the Syrian Mukhabarat killed them , I did not call anybody who said absurd and conspiracy theorist,

we can disagree with each other without name calling and yes i like people to treat me the way i treat them , that is not too much to ask , i always respect what Shai says even when i disagree with him ,

April 5th, 2011, 12:13 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Zenobia, et al,

I don’t think presenting Juliano Mer-Khamis’s full set of beliefs as being “repulsive”. He may have been a “nice guy”, and he also may have been politically naive or insensitive. In fact, if the quotes by the Jerusalem Post are correct, I find some of Mer-Khamis’s statesments to be repulsive.

For example, Mer-Khamis stated:

“I’m in favor of a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea,” he said at the same press conference. “If the Jews want to live with us, ahlan wasahlan (welcome).”

I think Jews are living pretty well with Arabs in Israel. However, it seems Israel’s large Arab citizenry is safer in Israel than Jews (or half-Jews) in Palestine. The PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah charters all confirm this.

He also stated:

“Armed struggle is legitimate as long as it’s against an occupier and is done on occupied land,”…

What is “armed struggle” and what is “terrorism”?

I wish he was still around, I would ask him.

April 5th, 2011, 12:19 pm


norman said:

After what AP said that he said, do have any doubt that an Israeli extremist like the one who killed Rabin could have killed him for treason,

April 5th, 2011, 12:40 pm


Yossi said:


>>> I think Jews are living pretty well with Arabs in Israel. However, it seems Israel’s large Arab citizenry is safer in Israel than Jews (or half-Jews) in Palestine. The PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah charters all confirm this.

I’ve had a long debate about this with Qunfuz about a year ago. Your observation is very true and a realistic observation and is something that is brushed under the rug by supporters of one big state. But unfortunately incidents such as what happened to Juliano, in addition to other inter-factional and inter-sect violence within Palestinian (or by extension, Syrian) society convey the bitter truth that Jews, Christians, Seculars and Gays will not be safe in a one state solution.

If it weren’t for that, I would think that this is the best solution. In other words I wouldn’t think the Jews need to be a majority in their state if their safety was ensured as a minority. But it isn’t ensured.

>>> What is “armed struggle” and what is “terrorism”?

Akbar, these are the days of Passover, when we celebrate Jewish deliverance from bondage. In order to liberate the Jews, God found it befitting, eventually, when all other methods of persuasion failed, to kill the elder son of each Egyptian family. A godly act of terrorism? This teaches us that freedom is priceless and an oppressor can expect to be challenged by WHATEVER means are available to the oppressed.

April 5th, 2011, 12:51 pm


SOURI said:

More and more Islamization: the women who were diagnosed by the secret police as religious extremist and were removed from teaching are now back to schools:

Where is this going? Are we going to see “socialization” in the economy too?

April 5th, 2011, 12:55 pm


jad said:

You think ‘niqab’ issue is bad, how about the other more dangerous decision of creating armed committees to protect mosques and churches in your #29? Isn’t that a dangerous call for more violence by the government by creating another element for instability.
I’m surprised that nobody comment on such horrendous idea yet.

What if someone of these committees have an issue with his neighbor and use the gun against him/her, how is justice going to work in such chaos, what kind of democracy the government is looking for and what society are they promoting?
Arming people to face each other is a crime, legalizing violence is a crime and spreading such committee in the Syrian society is a crime.
Why not creating committees for promoting community education, justice, healthy social fabric and political awareness instead of tearing the social fabric into pieces…That is wrong and extremely dangerous and very very stupid decision to take at these times, besides, where are all those amn/police/army that supposed to protect the country not to attack and kill its citizens?

Are we going to see “socialization” in the economy too?
Socialization is not a bad concept, ignorance, mismanagement, dictatorship and corruption are the one destroying any economy model in the world.

April 5th, 2011, 1:56 pm


jad said:

ليتوقف العنف في سورية، وليحاسب مرتكبوه علنا مَن كانوا!
افتتاحية مرصد نساء سورية
أيام عصيبة ما زالت تمر بها سورية وهي تعاني من العنف الذي حصد العشرات من المواطنين/ات، إضافة إلى المئات من الجرحى، في موجة من العنف لم تشهدها سورية منذ عقود، وتثير الخوف والهلع في نفوس الناس على امتداد الوطن.

وبعيدا عن التنازع بين السلطة ومعارضيها حول مصدر هذا العنف، خاصة إطلاق النار على المتظاهرين العزل، فإنه تقع على السلطات السورية مسؤولية العمل بأقصى سرعة لكشف حقيقة من فعل ذلك، وإعلان أسمائهم، وتقديمهم فوريا إلى محكمة مدنية علنية وعادلة، سواء كانوا من أجهزة السلطة أو من غيرها، ومهما كانت صفاتهم الوظيفية. فكل عنف يمارس في المجتمع هو مسؤولية الدولة، ويجب على الدولة أن تعاقب عليه، وإلا تكون متواطئة وشريكة فيه.

فقد أثبت تاريخ العالم أن العنف هو حلقة مفرغة تأكل الأخضر واليابس، ولا توفر أحدا. والعنف يرتد على ممارسه بالقسوة والدمار نفسه الذي يمارسه فيه ضد غيره. وهذا العنف لم يأت من فراغ، بل هو مؤسس في كافة أشكال العنف وثقافته المنتشرة في سورية، خاصة العنف ضد النساء والأطفال. هذا العنف اليومي الذي يشكل الحلقة الرئيسية في مجتمعنا التي تبنى على أساسها كافة أشكال ومستويات العنف الأخرى.

فما دام المرء يلد وينمو ويعيش في مناخ يشجع على عنف يصل إلى حد القتل (مثلما في جرائم الشرف)، ويمر بكافة أشكال العنف الأخرى (تأديب الأطفال، سلب المرأة حقوقها واعتبارها جارية في قانون الأحوال الشخصية، التمييز في بعض العقوبات بين الرجل والمرأة…)، وما دامت الدعاية الدينية التي تروج للعنف ضد المرأة باسم الله مسموحة ومشجع عليها (لاستخدامها سياسيا)، وما دام قانون تدمير الجمعيات ما يزال ساري المفعول بما يحد من فعالية أي نشاط مدني لنبذ ثقافة العنف وتأسيس ثقافة حضارية تعتمد مفاهيم المواطنة والحقوق، وما دام قانون الطوارئ ما يزال يقبع شبحا أسود على حياة الناس حتى صار الكثير منهم لا يعرفون ما هو لشدة ما دخل في حياتهم/ن.. ما دام كل ذلك باق، فإن ثقافة العنف ستجد المزيد والمزيد من التربة الخصبة لتنمو، ولتزدهر، بل ولتكون “مشروعة” في عقول الكثير من الناس، وهو ما لا يشكل خطرا قائما الآن فحسب، بل أيضا خطرا كامنا مستقبليا يمكن أن يعاود الانفجار في أية لحظة.

ونحن في “مرصد نساء سورية”، نعيد التأكيد أن كل القوانين الاستثنائية، سواء المسماة كذلك (مثل قانون الطوارئ) أم المسماة بأسماء أخرى (مثل قانون الجمعيات، قانون المطبوعات..)، هي وسائل فعالة لتشجيع العنف، بما في ذلك عنف الدولة نفسها، ويجب أن تلغى كليا، وتشرع مكانها قوانين ديمقراطية عصرية تقوم على أساس المواطنة وحقوق الإنسان، وتثبت المساواة في الحقوق والواجبات بين المواطنين/ات في سورية بغض النظر عن اللون والجنس والقومية والدين وأية اعتبارات أخرى. وهذا الطريق هو الطريق الوحيد، برأينا، القادر على الخروج اليوم من مأزق حقيقي لا ينفع فيه رمي المسؤولية هنا وهناك، والقادر على بناء مجتمع حديث ينهض بقيم حضارية تحترم وتساعد الإنسان كإنسان.

إن النساء والأطفال والمعوقين/ات هم ضحايا ارتفاع مستوى العنف في سورية. وهذا ما أثبته الواقع في جميع المجتمعات التي تعاني من العنف. وعدد القتلى وجنسهم وأعمارهم ليس هو المؤشر الأساس في هذه الحقيقة، فمقابل كل شخص يموت كضحية لهذا العنف، هناك آلاف النساء والأطفال والمعوقين/ات اللواتي يتعرضن لجرعة إضافية من العنف اليومي كنتيجة للاحتقان ولارتفاع مستوى العنف الدموي.

من جديد، نقدم تعازينا الحارة لأهالي جميع الضحايا الذين سقطوا في الأسابيع الأخيرة،
وندعو الجميع إلى إيقاف العنف عن أية جهة صدر،
كما ندعو السلطات السورية لاتخاذ موقف حاسم فوري بمحاسبة كل من تسبب بذلك، محاسبة علنية تؤكد لجميع الناس أن التفافات أخرى لن تحدث، وأن تبرئة ساحة هذا الشخص أو ذاك لن تتم بناء على علاقاته أو نفوذه أو ارتباطاته..

لنعمل جميعا من أجل “مجتمع خال من العنف والتمييز” جدير بسورية القرن الواحد والعشرين.

April 5th, 2011, 2:05 pm


NAJIB said:


The largest and most important social component is the Sunni Islamists (traditionally known as the reactionaries الرجعيين), who perhaps represent about 50% of the population.

are those 50% Sunni Islamist all Salafis or Sufis ?

It is wrong to assume that Sufis are “reactionaries” , how can students of Ibn Arabi, Al-roumi or Al Hallaj be reactionary ?
you are too pessimisstic .here is something to cheer you up:

لقد صار قلبى قابلاً كلَّ صورةٍ فمرعى لغزلانٍ وديرٌ لرهـبانِ
وبيتٌ لأوثانٍ وكـعــبـةُ طـائـفٍ وألواحُ توراةٍ ومصحفُ قرآنِ
أدين بدينِ الـحـبِ أنى توجـَّهَـت ركائبُهُ فالحـبُ دينى وإيمانى

محى الدين ابن عـربى

April 5th, 2011, 2:38 pm


SOURI said:


It seems that you are not completely aware of the gravity of the situation. Syria is witnessing an Islamist revolution. This is a very serious thing. Bashar now is trying to appease the Islamists, but who knows what may happen next Friday? What if those Islamists pour out of mosques in millions? Who is going to stop them?

This is a very serious situation. The Wahhabis and Ikhwan have been urging Islamists inside Syria to pour to the streets in millions. There are definitely millions of Islamists inside Syria who would love to go out to the streets and topple the regime, but they haven’t done so yet because of fear and the lack of organization among other reasons.

The regime must have a plan to deal with such a situation. If millions of Islamists go out to the streets, then there is no escape from a civil war. The regime has only two options, either to deal softly with the Islamists and accommodate them, which would eventually throw Syria into a long civil war that would lead to division of the country, or to attack the Islamists harshly from the beginning and end the war as quickly as possible, which would preserve the unity of the country and minimize the damages.

Bashar must act like his father. Hafez Assad tried to appease the Islamists for 10 years from 1970 to 1980. All the concessions that Hafez gave to them did not prevent the eventual civil war, because the Islamists would not stop until they get all that they wanted. Had Hafez Assad not acted firmly and decisively in 1980-1982, Syria would have collapsed and divided. The same conditions apply here. Bashar now is trying to give concessions, but if the Islamists don’t stop (they say that they won’t), then Bashar must attack firmly and swiftly to nip them in the bud.

The longer the insurgency lasts, the stronger it gets. The regime must act as fast as possible to cut it off from its roots.

In my opinion, the limited confrontation scenario is the best for Syria. If a bloody confrontation does not take place, then Syria is going to become totally Islamist like Egypt.

April 5th, 2011, 2:43 pm


Zenobia said:

apologies for offending you – I didn’t mean to sound that disrespectful… in general I appreciate your huge contributions to this blog, however, I think it is good to practice flexibility of perspective once in awhile and not always tow the same line.
Furthermore, I feel frustrated because this is a pretty mild issue where- we could just focus on this poor guy’s death by some awful person/persons regardless of what group they belonged to. It is really sad that it is most likely Pals from the area who had already expressed anger and made aggressive acts towards the theater.
Anyhow, I think in this general disappointing climate of “plots”… that is already annoying – regarding Syria lately, true, not true, I have no idea, some of it is probably true, but focusing on it instead of addressing one’s own faults and failings – is destructive to the mental health of everyone, so in this climate- to jump immediately to more conspiracy (especially when there is no evidence on that side re Mer Khamis) feels reactionary and unhelpful even though technically, of course, anything is possible to some small degree. I don’t think the Israelis’ assassin corps would waste so much effort to kill someone who is basically pretty benign on the scale of things geo-political. It takes pretty small minds to see him as a big threat.

anyhow, as for your defense, Akbar, you know I even have respect for things YOU say at times, believe it or not. You make me laugh a lot.
BUT, that Plaut stuff was really awful. It has nothing to do with presenting the “full set of beliefs”. Your personal words are better in this regard. Although, in the past I remember having all the “terrorist” verse “resistance” arguments back and forth with you :)…so we don’t need to go there. I am sick of both regardless of what it is called, but I think that word – the big “T” word is sooooo unhelpful to anyone, it just spreads hate and revenge and false justifications that create more violence in the end, and I really dislike people using the word incessantly.

As for Mer Khamis’s desire for a bi-national state, so what, of course many/most Jews and Pal Arabs will reject that. But, I think that just makes him and idealist.
we don’t know, it could happen one day with the blessings of everyone… nothing is impossible.

April 5th, 2011, 2:46 pm


SOURI said:


All Islamists are reactionaries. Al-Bouty is not very progressive, is he? He launched a war against a TV show last year. He could not even tolerate a mild TV show.

However, Sufis are definitely milder than the Ikhwan and Wahhabis. At least they are not dangerous and they rarely resort to violence. They also generally accept to coexist with people from other religions and beliefs.

April 5th, 2011, 2:54 pm


norman said:

Accepted, look at this ,

الثلاثاء 4/5/2011
آخر تحديث : 9:41 PM توقيت الدوحة

مثقفو فلسطين فجعوا باغتيال جوليان 05/04/2011

عاطف دغلس-نابلس

دانت جبهة المثقفين الفلسطينيين والفنانين من ممثلين ومخرجين اغتيال المخرج الفلسطيني جوليانو خميس مساء أمس الاثنين على أطراف مخيم جنين شمالي الضفة الغربية.

وعبر المثقفون الذين تحدثوا للجزيرة نت عن استنكارهم وسخطهم على “اغتياله”، وتباينت آراؤهم بشأن من يقف خلف هذا العمل، غير أنهم أجمعوا على أنه “جبان وجاهل، ولم يدرك حقيقة ما فعل”.

وقال نبيل الراعي المخرج المسرحي الفلسطيني الذي قام بعدة أعمال مع جوليانو، إن اغتياله شكل فاجعة وخسارة ثقافية لمجتمع يعيش طور البناء، وقدم له جوليانو كل ما يملك من علم ومعرفة وطرق تفكير جديدة، وطرق بديلة للمقاومة وإيجاد المقاومة الثقافية.

وأكد الراعي أن من قتل جوليانو حرم المجتمع الفلسطيني مما كان يخطط الفنان لتقديمة للفن والإخراج الفلسطيني.

ورغم أن الراعي لم يستبعد أن الاغتيال نفذه الاحتلال، لم يرفع إصبع الاتهام عن الفلسطينيين أيضا، ووصف القاتل بأنه “جاهل وجبان” وغير مدرك لحقيقة ما اقترف.

واتهم القاتل بالسعي لتخريب ودفن الثقافة الفلسطينية كونها في طور البناء، وكون جوليانو معروفا على مستوى عالمي ويمكنه أن يحدث هذا التقدم والبناء.

واستبعد الراعي المثقف الفلسطيني من دائرة الاتهام باغتيال زميله المثقف، وقال إن المثقف لا يقتل مثقفا، وإن وجد الاختلاف بالرأي فإن الإجماع يكون على طريق واحد هو الفن.

ولفت إلى أن كثيرين اختلفوا مع جوليانو وانتقدوه، وتساءلوا من أين جاء وماذا يحمل معه؟ وما رسالته وسره؟ “ولكن في نهاية الأمر تنتهي الاختلافات بدعابة.

فلسطينية أعماله
ورفض بعض الأقاويل التي أشارت إلى أن بعض أعمال جوليانو لم تلق قبولا فلسطينيا، وقال إنه كان فلسطينيا وحمل على عاتقه رسالة البحث عن الحرية بما تحمل من مفاهيم وليس كمسمى أو كمظهر أو بمفهوم فلسفي أو من باب الاستعراض، “بل البحث عن الحرية للفرد وللجماعة وإيجاد مساحات فيما بيننا، وخلق طريق بديل للمقاومة والثقافة الفنية”.

وأكد أنه جاء ليجسد هذا المعنى للفلسطينيين ويمارسه معهم، وأنه لم يكن بعيدا عن الثقافة الفلسطينية، وأن أعماله ابتداء بمسرح الحجر “الذي أطلقته أمه عام 1987” وبأعماله “رجال في الشمس” لغسان كنفاني و”شظايا فلسطين” و”الكراسي” وانتهاء بمسرح الحرية دلت على ذلك.

كما أن جوليانو كان فلسطينيا لأب فلسطيني وأم مناضلة قدمت لفلسطين الكثير كما قال الراعي، وناضلت وزوجها ضد الاحتلال، وأن هذا بدا واضحا في فيلم “أولاد آرنا” الذي جسد قصة شبان فلسطينيين يناضلون ضد المحتل الإسرائيلي، إضافة إلى أنه جاء ليسكن مخيم جنين منذ أكثر من ثمان سنوات، كما فعلت أمه وأبوه من قبل، واختار جنين لمسرحه “الحرية”.

من المسؤول
أما الكاتب السينمائي الفلسطيني سليم دبور فقد رفض أي مبرر وراء اغتيال جوليانو، واستبعد أن تكون أيد فلسطينية تقف خلف ذلك، ووجه إصبع الاتهام نحو إسرائيل، وقال إن لها أيادي كثيرة باستهداف المثقفين والمبدعين الفلسطينيين “الذين يفضحون سياساتها”.

وأوضح أن الاحتلال هو المستفيد بقتله، فهو يحتاج لأي قصة لإثارة الرأي العام العالمي، عبر أساليب سياسة “فرق تسد” وإثارة الفتن.

وأضاف أن من قتل هدف لإلصاق تهمة بالفلسطينيين، ولإظهار وجه بشع لهم باعتبار أن جوليانو يعيش بينهم وفي كنفهم.

من جانبه عبر عدنان نغنغيه مدير مسرح الحرية الذي أسسه جوليانو عن قلقه على المثقف الفلسطيني بصورة عامة، عقب هذا الاغتيال، وحمل المجتمع الفلسطيني ككل مسؤولية ذلك.

وقال إنه يأتي بسبب عدم نشر وتوعية هذا المجتمع بأهمية دور المثقف بصوره المختلفة، “فالثقافة تجعل منه إنسانا مشاركة وليس منبوذا عن الغير”.

وشدد على أن مسرح “الحرية” بمدرسة التمثيل التي أنشأها وبأعماله المختلفة سيستمر ولن يتوقف بكل الأحوال.

وعبر المثقفون الفلسطينيون في مؤتمر صحفي لهم الثلاثاء عن رفضهم لعملية الاغتيال، ودعوا لشجب ذلك بكل الوسائل، وأكدوا أنهم سينظمون الخميس القادم وقفة احتجاج أمام مسرح الحرية في جنين وجنازة رمزية لجوليانو الذي سيدفن غدا في حيفا.

جميع حقوق النشر محفوظة، الجزيرة 2011

April 5th, 2011, 3:30 pm


Leo said:

Syrian journalist Rana Okbani was arrested in Libya and then humiliated on Libyan TV by Libyan presenter Hala Mesrati.

It’s ridiculous to have the Syrian journalist investigated and humiliated on Libyan TV while the Syrian government is silent on this issue. If Rana was a Western journalist her government would rush in to interfere and offer all sorts of legal and material aid. This is a video and sample of the Libyan presenter who was investigating her.

April 5th, 2011, 4:09 pm


Shami said:

Bouri,Bothaina,Bashar,Ribal…. ,there can not be civil war in Syria who will be fighting who ?
And be sure that your “islamists” will not allow the country to be divided.

April 5th, 2011, 4:09 pm


Shai said:


It’s nice to see you back here…

I’m not sure most Palestinians would reject a single, binational state, if they were granted full and equal rights. De facto, we’re headed straight in that direction. That’s one of the reasons I’m convinced time is on the Palestinian side, not on ours. With each new home built in the WB on a new or existing settlement, that’s one step closer to a single state.

What’ll be very interesting to see in the coming months, is Netanyahu’s way of preparing for the Tsunami the Palestinians will drop in September. I have a feeling he’ll attempt a spin in the Syrian direction (“let’s talk…”) to try to avert attention, and ask the UN to give Israel more time… Maybe, by accident, something will actually work out.

If not, Akbar can always blame “The Left” (which has more letters in its name than seats in Knesset…) 🙂

April 5th, 2011, 4:11 pm


Jad said:

Hi Soury,
You are right that I may not be fully aware about the situation on ground, since I don’t live in Syria and the longest visit for me to Syria won’t last more than 3 weeks a time.

My point is that at these times the government/regime needs to be wise not irrational by making more problems by using violence and arming citizens instead of cooling down the conflict.
Protecting security is the job of Amn, Police and Army, not the civilians.

One observation, almost all the guys involved in the demonstration are youth, neither my generation nor my father’s, which means that the problem this young generation of Syrian is facing and dealing with is very bad and general on all young Syrians regardless of their religion so instead of pushing them in the corner and suffocate them with tear gas and batons, start a conversation, nation wide, to get to the real issues and work with them to solve the problems, they need to be heard and involved in all issues, life doesn’t stop at our generation its for the youth more than us and we need to be open and ready to hear everybody instead of ‘us and them’ mentality that I see today separating Syrians inside and outside the homeland.
I’m not going to listen to any of the extremest sides of both the oppositions and the government/regime I have to stay in the middle if I want to see the truth.
And the truth is that we have major issues that needed to be dealt with wisely and now and in depth if we want to have solution.
There are many elements using this movement, Wahabis is one of them not the whole, it’s good to be aware about that dangerous element but not wise to let it take over the other ones, we are looking for common ground with everybody to come up with sustainable solutions that last and make the whole society the big winner.

April 5th, 2011, 4:35 pm


jad said:

Dear Leo,
That was horrible, what is her crime? Writing an article?
The other day Aljazeera made funny report about Hala Mesraty and how crazy she is.
She is the one who said that ‘Adopting’ the UN resolution is ‘7aram’ since adoption is forbidden in Islam and therefore the resolution is un-islamic

April 5th, 2011, 4:59 pm


Nour said:

استشهاد شرطيين اثنين بإطلاق النار عليهما من قبل مسلحين في ناحية كفربطنا بريف دمشق

دمشق ..
استشهد بعد ظهر اليوم الشرطيان حسن معلا وحميد الخطيب بإطلاق النار عليهما من قبل مسلحين مجهولين في ناحية كفربطنا في ريف دمشق بينما كانا يقومان بدورية عادية في المنطقة.

April 5th, 2011, 5:06 pm


SOURI said:

Al-Bouti tells Syrian TV: Assad met with Islamic leaders and agreed to “reforms” requested by them, including:

-reinstating religious extremist teachers.
-reinstating religious extremist engineers who were removed from Damascus municipality.
-establishing the new institute for “Islamic studies.”
-establishing an “Islamic satellite channel.”

They also commanded Assad to give a new “clearer” speech to the people, and he agreed.

كشف العلامة الشيخ محمد سعيد رمضان البوطي أن الرئيس بشار الأسد سيتوجه إلى الشعب بخطاب آخر ، بعد أن بدا أن رسالة الاصلاح شابها غموض .

و قال الشيخ ” البوطي ” في حديث بثه التلفزيون السوري أن الرئيس الأسد أخبره أنه سيتوجه للسوريين بخطاب آخر ، بعد ان بدا له رسالة الاصلاح شابها غموض ، و قال أن المسألة ليست مسألة مشاريع مراسيم و إنما مراسيم تصدر ولكن تنتظر أن تنفذها اللجان بسبب الاعتبارات القانونية وقال أن البلاد ستشهد انفتاح حريات كثيرة، ولاسيما حرية الإعلام.

و أوضح الشيخ ” البوطي ” أن القيادة السورية استجابت لاقتراحات القيادات الدينية بمنح الحريات والإصلاح ومكافحة الفساد و انهاء حكم الحزب الواحد.

وبين أن القيادة السورية استجابت للكثير من المطالب التي تقدمت بها مجموعة من رجال الدين.

و عدد البوطي من بين هذه المطالب إعادة كل المنقبات اللائي تم فصلهن من عملهن بسبب النقاب، ومرسوم تأسيس معهد الشام العالي للدراسات الشرعية وتعليمات بفتح قناة فضائية دينية “ترعى الإسلام الحق الذي لا يميل لا للشرق ولا للغرب”، كما اشار البوطي إلى دراسة أوضاع المهندسين والمهندسات اللائي أبعدن عن المحافظات.

وانتقد البوطي العلامة الشيخ يوسف القرضاوي معتبرا أنه كان أمامه فرصة لأن يقول ما يريد أمام الرئيس الأسد حين التقاه بعد حرب غزة وبدلا من أن يوجه انتقاداته كال المديح للرئيس الأسد وسياساته الإقليمية .

April 5th, 2011, 6:34 pm


Nour said:

مطالبنا تتحقق في إطلاق الحريات وإنهاء سلطة الحزب الواحد وإعادة المنقبات…البوطي: الرئيس الأسد سيتحدث ثانية ووجه بفتح قناة فضائية دينية

قال العلامة الشيخ محمد سعيد رمضان البوطي إن القيادة السورية استجابت لاقتراحات القيادات الدينية بمنح الحريات والإصلاح ومكافحة الفساد وإنهاء حكم الحزب الواحد.
وقال البوطي في درسه الأسبوعي الذي بثه التلفزيون السوري مساء أمس إن القيادة السورية استجابت للكثير من المطالب التي تقدمت بها مجموعة من رجال الدين، وعدد البوطي من بينها إعادة كل المنقبات اللائي تم فصلهن من عملهن بسبب النقاب، وإعادة المهندسين والمهندسات الذين أبعدوا عن المحافظات، ومرسوم تأسيس معهد الشام العالي للدراسات الشرعية، وتعليمات بفتح قناة فضائية دينية «ترعى الإسلام الحق الذي لا يميل إلى الشرق ولا إلى الغرب».
وقال البوطي: إن الرئيس بشار الأسد أخبره أنه سيتوجه للسوريين بخطاب آخر، بعد أن بدا أن رسالة الإصلاح شابها بعض الغموض، وأضاف: إن المسألة ليست مسألة مشاريع مراسيم وإنما مراسيم تصدر ولكن تنتظر أن تنفذها اللجان بسبب الاعتبارات القانونية، موضحاً أن البلاد ستشهد انفتاح حريات كثيرة، ولاسيما إنهاء حالة الطوارئ وسلطة الحزب الواحد، وإطلاق الحريات عبر تنظيم يرعى الحرية، وكذلك حرية الإعلام والعلاقة بين المواطن والسلطة، مشيراً إلى أن الكثير منها قد تم وعما قريب سيتم الإعلان عنه.
وتابع البوطي: الحبل على الجرار والإصلاحات تتم وموضوع القناة الفضائية الدينية لم يكن في خاطرنا
وإنما هي غاية تمثلت في ذهن الرئيس الأسد.
وبعد استعراضه للخطوات الإصلاحية التي طرحت في الحوار مع الرئيس الأسد، قال متوجهاً لمستمعيه: «أعود وأسألكم إن كان الحوار أفاد أم لم يفد؟».
وانتقد العلامة البوطي الشيخ يوسف القرضاوي معتبراً أنه كان أمام الأخير فرصة لأن يقول ما يريد أمام الرئيس الأسد حين التقاه بعد العدوان على غزة وبدلاً من أن يوجه انتقاداته كال المديح للرئيس الأسد وسياساته الإقليمية.
وأكد البوطي أن القرضاوي يعلم أن الطريقة الغوغائية لا تصلح الفساد وإنما تفتح أبواب الفتنة كما أن العزف على وتر الطائفية لا يصلح الفساد وإنما يزيده بل يخلقه، وأنا أجزم أن القرضاوي يعلم هذه الحقيقة، فمن الذي منعه من أن يتوجه إلى دمشق ولسوف يجد من يؤهلون ويرحبون به ليجلس مع الرئيس الأسد ويكون واحداً ممن يناقش ويحاور وينال ثواباً من اللـه»، متسائلاً: «لماذا آثر منبر الغوغاء والإثارة وهو يعلم أنها لن تفيد بشيء؟».
وأضاف: «الآن تثير مشاعر الطائفية وتضرب على وتره وأمس أتيح لك أن تأمر بالمعروف وتنهى عن المنكر فلماذا لم تفعل؟».
وختم العلامة البوطي بالقول: «أخيراً أقول بهذا الحديث عن الشيخ القرضاوي إنني لا أغمز من قناته أبداً وأعلم علمه وفضله ولكني أحب له في هذه المرحلة المتقدمة من العمر أن يحكم تعاليم الدين وآدابه في حل هذه المعضلة بدلاً من أن يحكم الظروف والمصالح الحزبية التي تدعوه آناً أن يصمت فيصمت وتدعوه تارة لينطق فينطق».

April 5th, 2011, 7:03 pm


SOURI said:

If Assad becomes a puppet of the Islamists, what would be his advantge?

If Assad becomes a new Mubarak, then I don’t think anybody would still support him except for the Alawis and those who are directly benefiting from the regime.

Assad’s only advantage is that he has been checking the Islamization of the country. If this advantage goes, then Assad would become a burden on everybody. Neither the Islamists nor the secular would accept him.

The Islamists will never accept Assad. There is a million reasons for that. He is Alawi and he is Baathist; the Islamists neither like Alawis nor Baathists.

Assad has to compensate for these concessions he is giving to the Islamists. He must also give something to the secular. There are many things that he can grant to the secular, including an optional secular family law and greater freedom of speech for the anti-Islamists.

Anyway, I don’t think this regime can defy the Islamists at all now, so I don’t expect anything from it except more and more Islamization.

If this Islamization policy is the new strategy of the regime, then it is obvious that the regime won’t last long. If the regime has decided to pursue a strategic policy of Islamization, then this means that the regime is looking for a “safe landing” like Joshua says and it has decided to hand power over to the Islamists.

If the Islamization policy is tactical, then this means that the regime is preparing for a big and long confrontation with the more radical Islamists who are protesting in the streets.

Syria’s future has become so vague and uncertain.

April 5th, 2011, 7:06 pm


Nour said:


I think Assad might be thinking that to effectively fight religious extremism one method should be to provide forums and institutes that teach religion in its pure form, rather than continuing to allow Wahhabi institutes and outlets to spread their destructive ideological indoctrination through Saudi funding. I believe Syria should lead the Arab World in teaching true Islam, rather than the distorted version promoted by the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabis.

This of course should not undermine the principle that religious institutions should remain absolutely separate from state political and judicial institutions. I don’t mind having these religious institutions so long as the state becomes totally secularized, such that all laws become civil laws equally applicable to all citizens, regardless of religious background.

April 5th, 2011, 7:09 pm


Nour said:

لجنة دراسة نتائج إحصاء 1962 أنهت عملها وتوقعات بقرب التسوية لأوضاع غير المجنسين

ذكرت مصادر سورية واسعة الاطلاع لـ«الوطن» أن اللجنة المعنية بدراسة وضع تسوية لنتائج إحصاء 1962 أنهت عملها، وأن اقتراحاتها رفعت للقيادة السورية متضمنة الإجراءات الواجب اتباعها لإغلاق هذا الملف نهائياً.
وعلمت «الوطن» أن لجنتين واحدة مركزية يرأسها وزير وأخرى يرأسها محافظ وتضم قضاة وموظفين ستعمل على استقبال المتقدمين بطلباتهم للحصول على الجنسية، حيث تقدرهم مصادر محلية عددهم بما يفوق مئة ألف شخص، وذلك خلال مهلة لا تتعدى الستين يوما. كما تنص التسوية على تقديم الاعتراضات للقضاء لمن لم يرد اسمه في لوائح غير المجنسين.
وتكون بذلك اللجنة قد أنهت عملها قبل موعدها المحدد في الخامس عشر من نيسان الجاري أسوة بلجنة دراسة رفع قانون الطوارئ.
من جهة أخرى قال النائب العام في سورية تيسير القلا عواد إن اللجنة المكلفة بتقصي أسباب حصول وفيات في أحداث درعا واللاذقية تعمل وفقاً للإطار القانوني وإن نتائجها ستكون «مثمرة ومريحة» وفقاً لما صرح للتلفزيون السوري، وقال: إن اللجنة المكلفة بالتحقيق مع أي شخص مهما كانت صفته، وأنها لا تخضع لتأثير أي جهة عليها.

April 5th, 2011, 7:12 pm


Nour said:

داوود أوغلو يزور دمشق تمهيداً لأردوغان.. والداخلية ترفع الموافقات الأمنية عن 21 إجراء…الرئيس الأسد يستقبل وجهاء الحسكة ويعد بالنيروز عيداً وطنياً

استقبل الرئيس بشار الأسد صباح أمس وفداً من وجهاء وشيوخ عشائر محافظة الحسكة ضم 35 شخصاً بينهم 14 كردياً

وفي خطوة تأتي في سياق التوجهات الإصلاحية، أصدرت وزارة الداخلية السورية تعميمين تضمنا تحديد عمل بعض مديريات وفروع وزارة الداخلية سعياً لاختصار الوقت والجهد والعناء عن المواطنين في إنجاز
معاملاتهم، وإزالة شرط الحصول على الموافقة الأمنية عن عدد من الحالات.
في الغضون من المتوقع أن يصل إلى دمشق خلال اليومين القادمين وزير الخارجية التركي أحمد داوود أوغلو قادماً من البحرين تمهيداً لزيارة من المقرر أن يقوم بها إلى سورية رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب أردوغان.
وفي عودة إلى استقبال الرئيس الأسد لوجهاء الحسكة ذكر البيان الرسمي أن الرئيس الأسد استقبل صباح أمس عدداً من الفعاليات الاجتماعية في محافظة الحسكة وجرى خلال اللقاء مناقشة الأوضاع في المحافظة حيث استمع الرئيس الأسد من هذه الفعاليات إلى الأحوال المعيشية لأهالي الحسكة ومتطلباتهم ومشاكلهم حيث تم تأكيد أهمية تضافر جهود السلطات المحلية للمحافظة وأهاليها لحل هذه المشاكل.
وبين البيان أن هذه الفعاليات أعربت عن شكرها وارتياحها لتوجيهات الرئيس الأسد بمعالجة موضوع إحصاء 1962 قبل الخامس عشر من نيسان الحالي، موضحاً أن الرئيس الأسد توجه بالتحية لأهالي محافظة الحسكة لمواقفهم الوطنية المشرفة كما توجه إليهم بالتهاني الخاصة بأعياد النيروز والتحية لدورهم الوطني الذي تثبته الأحداث يومياً.
ونقل البيان عن الفعاليات تأكيدها وحدة الشعب السوري بكل مكوناته ووقوفهم ضد أي محاولة للمساس بوحدة البلد وأمنه واستقراره.
ونقلت وكالة الأنباء السورية «سانا» عن ممثل عشيرة حرب الشيخ عبد الكريم صالح العبيدو قوله: إن اللقاء مع الرئيس الأسد كان أخوياً وصريحاً وشفافاً واستمع سيادته إلى مطالب إخوته وأبنائه من محافظة الحسكة وأشار إلى أن تحقيق هذه المطالب سيوضع أولوية للحكومة الجديدة لتعمل على تنفيذها بالسرعة القصوى.
وأوضح العبيدو أنه تم طرح ومناقشة مواضيع كثيرة تهم المواطنين عامة وخاصة في محافظة الحسكة ومنها تحسين الأوضاع المعيشية وحل مشكلة إحصاء عام 1962 حيث أكد الرئيس الأسد حل هذه المواضيع بأقصى سرعة ممكنة.
وأكد العبيدو وقوف أبناء المحافظة في مواجهة المؤامرات والفتن التي تهدف للنيل من سورية ووحدتها واستقرارها ومواقفها الوطنية والقومية.
وقال غازي إبراهيم وهو من وجهاء الأكراد في المحافظة لـ«الوطن» إن اللقاء استمر نحو ساعتين وربع الساعة قدم خلاله الوفد مذكرة ضمت 34 مطلباً ركزت على ضرورة الاستعجال في تنفيذ المراسم التي صدرت أخيراً وتهم محافظة الحسكة مثل تجاوز نتائج إحصاء 1962 ومرسوم 49 الخاص بعمليات بيع وشراء العقارات في المناطق الحدودية، إضافة إلى حل موضوع الاستملاكات وهي بالتالي كانت تتعلق بالشؤون الزراعية ومكافحة البطالة وتحسين أوضاع المحافظة من النواحي الخدمية.
وأكد إبراهيم أنه لم يشارك في اللقاء أي من القيادات السياسية الكردية دون أن يذكر الأسباب التي أدت إلى ذلك مع تشديده على أن الوفد تألف فقط من زعماء العشائر ووجهاء المحافظة.
وبين إبراهيم أن الرئيس الأسد كان متجاوباً جداً مع المطالب وتم اللقاء في جو مريح ولطيف ولم يشعرنا أننا نجلس أمام رئيس دولة من تواضعه ولطفه واستقباله، موضحاً أن الرئيس الأسد قدم في بداية الجلسة التهاني للأكراد بمناسبة عيد النيروز الذي صادف في 21 من آذار الماضي مثنياً على الاحتفالات التي مرت هذه السنة دون أي مشاكل، ومؤكداً أن النيروز سيكون عيداً لكل السوريين بدءاً من العام القادم.
وعلمت «الوطن» أنه شارك في اللقاء من الكرد حميد سليمان من عشائر شيخان الكيكية، وسمير الباشا من عشائر الكوجر، ومحمد خللو من عشائر ميرسن، ومحمود الباشا من عشائر مللي، وعيسى سعدون من عشائر مللي، ومصلح شكري دقوري من عشائر الدقورية، وغازي إبراهيم من القامشلي، والمحامي محمد ابراهيم الباشا.
كما شارك في اللقاء الذي أعد له محافظ الحسكة معذى سلوم كل من شيخ عشيرة شمر أحمد دهام الهادي، وشيخ عشيرة الجبور عبد العزيز محمد المسلط، وشيخ عشيرة العدوان حلو الحلو، وشيخ عشيرة البكارة نوري الطلاع، وشيخ عشيرة طي محمد عبد الرزاق الطائي، والشيخ حسين الحجي رئيس عشيرة بني سبعة، الشيخ عبد الكريم صالح العبيدو ممثل عشيرة حرب، بشار دهام شيخ قبيلة الشرابين، عيسى سليمان حاج سعدون رئيس عشيرة البهدينان، إضافة إلى مطران السريان الأرثوذكس في الجزيرة والفرات متى روهم، ومفتي المحافظة عبد الرحمن العبد اللـه.
وقالت مصادر على صلة باللقاء إن المطالب تركزت على ضرورة تحسين الأوضاع المعيشية لأهالي المحافظة ذات الطابع الزراعي بعد تكرار مواسم الجفاف سنوات عدة، وكان في مقدمة المطالب إعفاء الفلاحين من القروض المصرفية الزراعية أو تأجيل استحقاقاتها، وإعفاؤهم من فواتير الكهرباء، وزيادة المساحات المخصصة بزراعة القطن.
وقالت المصادر السابقة: إن الرئيس الأسد وبعد أن هنأ الأكراد بعيد النيروز تحدث عن المؤامرة التي تتعرض لها سورية والخطر المحدق بها، واعداً الوفد أن تكون محافظة الحسكة في أولويات اهتمامه.
وفي موضوع متصل وفي خطوة تحسب لمصلحة التوجهات الإصلاحية، أصدرت وزارة الداخلية السورية تعميمين، حصلت «الوطن» على نسخة عنهما، تضمن الأول تحديد عمل بعض مديريات وفروع وزارة الداخلية، وذلك سعياً لاختصار الوقت والجهد والعناء عن المواطنين في إنجاز معاملاتهم دون الرجوع إلى الموافقات الأمنية التي كانت تسبق أي موافقة أو ترخيص، بينما ذكر التعميم الثاني أن وزارة الداخلية ألغت الحاجة إلى الموافقات الأمنية المتعلقة بجوانب الشؤون المدنية والهجرة والجوازات والأمن الجنائي.
وبين التعميم الثاني أنه لم تعد الموافقة الأمنية المسبقة مطلوبة في الحالات التالية:
تسجيل الزواج من أجانب وتسجيل زواج مواطن سوري من مكتومي قيد من أجانب الحسكة، وتسجيل مكتومين مسجل أحد والديهم «إذا كان الأب سورياً»، ومعاملات تسجيل ولادات أبناء مواطني محافظة الحسكة التي مضى عليها أكثر من شهر، طلبات حصول النوَر المسجلين في سجلات الأحوال المدنية على البطاقة الشخصية أو الأسرية، ومنح شهادات التعريف وإخراجات القيد والبيانات العائلية بدلاً من المفقودة أو التالفة أو الممنوحة لأول مرة لأجانب الحسكة أو تسجيل واقعاتهم في السجلات الخاصة بهم في أمانات السجل المدني في محافظة الحسكة. ومنح البطاقة الشخصية بدلاً من المفقودة أو التالفة ومنح البطاقة الشخصية لأول مرة لمن تجاوز سن 14 من العمر، أو لمكتسب الجنسية العربية السورية، أو حالات الحصول على بطاقة شخصية جديدة «بدلاً من بطاقته القديمة». طلبات الحصول على بطاقات شخصية بدلاً من المفقودة في لبنان، معاملات إشهار إسلام السوريين، طلبات تملك الفلسطينيين السوريين، إعادة العامل إلى عمله، منح جوازات السفر للمقيمين خارج القطر بدلاً من تالف أو المفقود، طلبات الفلسطينيين السوريين الذين فقدوا تذاكر الإقامة أو وثائق سفرهم خارج القطر أو فقدوها للمرة الثانية داخل القطر، طلبات الفلسطينيين السوريين للحصول على تذاكر إقامة لأول مرة لمن تجاوزت أعمارهم 15 سنة، طلبات اعتماد مندوبي الملاهي الليلية بقصد إنجاز معاملاتهم لديها بعد إبراز موافقة نقابة الفنانين، دخول مواطنين المرحلين من الأردن، المواطنون الراغبون بالسفر إلى العراق، منح رخص استيراد الألعاب الإلكترونية ومستلزماتها، منح رخص إصلاح الأسلحة المسموح بحملها، منح رخص تصدير السيوف والخناجر للزينة، تجديد رخص حمل وحيازة المسدسات الحربية وأسلحة الصيد المنتهية، تراخيص مزاولة مهنة نسخ المفاتيح.

April 5th, 2011, 7:15 pm


Nour said:


What do you think of Assad promising the Kurdish citizens of Syria that Norouz will become a national holiday in Syria. Wouldn’t that upset the Islamists, as they would view Norouz as an unislamic, pagan holiday?

Also, it seems like the new Party law will not recognize any sectarian, religious, or ethnic party, which means that Islamic parties will not be licensed under the new law.

April 5th, 2011, 7:18 pm


Akbar Palace said:

After what AP said that he said, do have any doubt that an Israeli extremist like the one who killed Rabin could have killed him for treason


What did I say for Allah’s sake? You’re comparing me to Yigal Amir? Yigal Amir is no different than any other murderer, Jew or otherwise. I dare say you will see many Israelis glorifying Yigal Amir like those that worships “martyrs” in Aza and the West Bank.

Nevertheless,I never said this man was a terrorist or a criminal, however, I take issue with the people he has hung out with and I think his comments are troubling. This was a major reason I didn’t vote for Obama – we are judged by the company we keep and the statements we make.

In the same vein, I think he did a lot of good, was probably a “nice guy”, etc. In the end I didn’t kill this person, nor do I think any Israeli “settler” killed him. From what I’m reading, there was a group of Palestinians in Jenin that couldn’t “tolerate” a “half breed” Jew and saw him as a “5th column”. 25% of Israelis are Arab, but one half-Jew in the West Bank is already a “5th column”. Go figure.


You spoke with Qunfuz??? Eeeeeeew! I hope you took a shower afterwards;) I responded to one of his recent posts. The Hamas and Hezbo supporter was feeling “troubled” by the Syrian demonstrations. Awwww!

Your observation is very true and a realistic observation and is something that is brushed under the rug by supporters of one big state.

Thanks for the feedback. Of course, but since when did pro-Palestinians ever care about the physical welfare of Jews? Qunfuz surely doesn’t give a fig.

Look, I want Israel to remain a democracy that is based on rule of law and freedoms for all her citizens. If Israel becomes a majority Arab state, that’s fine with me. Just as Israel has taken into account her large Arab minority, an Arab majority Israel would have to do the same. That is why I think most Arab Israelis would prefer to be citizens of Israel and not citizens of Palestine.

Judging from Hamas and the PA, and the potential violence, the 2 peoples are not ready to live together in one state.

…you know I even have respect for things YOU say at times, believe it or not. You make me laugh a lot.


Thanks. Like Shai, I look forward to reading your posts. It is possible to agree to disagree, and at least, explain how we feel and think. I like Steve Plaut because he makes everything “black and white”, he has good sense of humor, and a sarcasitc edge. But yes, sometimes I think he is a bit too rigid.

Look, there are Jews and Arabs who work together every day. We should get some of these individuals to post here to give their opinions.

April 5th, 2011, 7:24 pm


SOURI said:


The Syrian channel will never be able to stand against the many Wahhabi channels which are better funded and have been operating for a long time.

More importantly, I don’t think that Al-Bouti and his likes represent the good version of Islam we are looking for. Al-Bouti has strong takfiri tendencies and he does not accept neither secularism nor freedom of speech.

Al-Bouti tried very hard last year to prevent a TV show from being aired. Is this what we want? A sheikh telling us what we are allowed to say and what we are not? Also if you read his books, you will find that Bouti viciously attacks modern science and does not accept the separation between science and religion at all. He also does not accept the separation between religion and state.

This guy is just another religious extremist. His only advantage is that he is hypocrite and does not publicly oppose the regime.

April 5th, 2011, 7:40 pm


NK said:

well this is interesting

April 5th, 2011, 10:00 pm


SOURI said:

The only way the regime can survive is like I said before, which is to divide the Islamists and conquer them.

The regime now faces an urgent challenge, which is the uprising by the most radical and extremist forces of society. The regime obviously looks shaken and frightened by this uprising, which indicates that it is a serious threat.

The concessions Bashar are giving now will maintain the division among the Islamists. The less-radical Islamists seem to be content with these concessions as they have not joined the protests yet. We also should not neglect the role of the regime’s heavy stick in deterring those Islamists from joining the protests. I know that many of them would love to join but they are afraid or have been arrested.

By using this carrot and stick approach, Bashar hopes to keep most of the Islamists quiet while he gets rid of the protesters by force.

When the protests end, Bashar will still be faced with an Islamist threat. However, the battle at that stage will become a political battle rather than a street battle.

If Bashar wants to leave the presidency and hand power over to the Islamists, then he should do just like Mubarak. That is, he should let the Islamists grow and gain more and more influence until they overthrow him. After that, Syria will become an Islamist country and we will be back to Ottoman times.

If Bashar wants to stay in power, or if he wants to hand power over to another secular person, then he will have to fight the Islamists politically and socially and defeat them.

The first step in fighting the Islamists is to allow freedom of speech to those who criticize them. The regime must instruct all media outlets to stop censoring criticism of the Islamists. If we can’t even criticize the Islamists and their beliefs, then how are they possibly going to be contained?

April 5th, 2011, 10:14 pm


Leo said:


You keep getting it upside down. The only way to be able to successfully defeat radical Islamists is to allow multi-parties, even those who are opposition, to exist and to increase civil and political liberties. Allowing a quasi platform to attack Islam and yet forbid others to assemble, form parties, criticize the regime, expose corruption, and so forth would only radicalize the silent majority even more. Moving towards the free and open society is the way.

April 6th, 2011, 12:14 am


Leo said:

I’m sure most of you have heard this song/poem by Sameeh Shukair that was dedicated to the people of Deraa, ‘Ya Haif’.

For those who’s do not speak Arabic or are not very fluent, I have translated (badly) the song. Please feel free to use the translation, edit it, and spread it around if you want to. I have no experience in translation so I am sure many of you have a lot to say.

‘Ya Haif’, What a shame.

What a Shame..What a fire bullets at the unarmed.
What a shame to arrest kids at the age of flowers.
How? How?
You are my countryman and you kill my kids,
and while your back is at the enemy, you attack me with your sword!
What a shame, what a shame
And this is what’s happening, in Daraa (city) O mother what a shame..

O mother the kids heard liberty is coming to their doors, they went to greet it.
They saw the guns pointed at them but said they are our brothers they wouldn’t fire at us.
But they shot, and we died by the hands of our brother in the name of national security, but history will be a witness of who we are.
O mother didn’t u know one word of freedom made (the tyrant) tremble in fear.
O mother when the masses chanted he (tyrant) went berserk, burning us with fire.
and we are the ones who said that whoever kills his people is a TRAITOR!, whoever it is.
The people are their own destiny. If they chose to be silent, it’s to give you (tyrant) a chance
Hope is near

What a Shame…


April 6th, 2011, 12:32 am


Al said:

There is no half free, half democracy or half rights. Syrian are asking (or should be asking) for no less than a complete freedom and equality including the freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, equality between men and women, equality regardless of regions, sects, areas or ethnic background. If this is what the Syrian revolution is about, then I am all for it, otherwise it’s another crime against Syria.

April 10th, 2011, 2:44 pm


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