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
2011-04-04

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
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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
By ANDREW JACOBS
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.

04/04/2011

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
Telegraph.co.uk

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)


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51. Akbar Palace said:

MurderisRepulsive.Com

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.

http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=215116

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 5th, 2011, 12:19 pm

 

52. 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,

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April 5th, 2011, 12:40 pm

 

53. Yossi said:

Akbar,

>>> 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 12:51 pm

 

54. 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:

http://www.syriasteps.com/index.php?d=127&id=65882

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

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April 5th, 2011, 12:55 pm

 

55. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 1:56 pm

 

56. jad said:

ليتوقف العنف في سورية، وليحاسب مرتكبوه علنا مَن كانوا!
افتتاحية مرصد نساء سورية
2011-04-04
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.

http://nesasy.org/content/view/9617/110/

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April 5th, 2011, 2:05 pm

 

57. NAJIB said:

SOURI,

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

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April 5th, 2011, 2:38 pm

 

58. SOURI said:

#55

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 2:43 pm

 

59. Zenobia said:

Norman,
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.

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April 5th, 2011, 2:46 pm

 

60. SOURI said:

#57 NAJIB

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 2:54 pm

 

61. norman said:

Zenobia,
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”.

فاجعة
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

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April 5th, 2011, 3:30 pm

 

62. Leo said:

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk4wlP04Sdk

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 4:09 pm

 

63. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 4:09 pm

 

64. Shai said:

Zenobia,

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…) :-)

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April 5th, 2011, 4:11 pm

 

65. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 4:35 pm

 

66. 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

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April 5th, 2011, 4:59 pm

 

67. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 5:06 pm

 

68. 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 .

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April 5th, 2011, 6:34 pm

 

69. 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».

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April 5th, 2011, 7:03 pm

 

70. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:06 pm

 

71. Nour said:

SOURI:

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:09 pm

 

72. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:12 pm

 

73. 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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:15 pm

 

74. Nour said:

SOURI:

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:18 pm

 

75. 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

Norman,

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.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1423506/posts

http://www.israellycool.com/2008/03/09/palestinian-child-abuse/

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.

Yossi,

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.

Zenobia,

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:24 pm

 

76. SOURI said:

NOUR,

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.

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April 5th, 2011, 7:40 pm

 
 

78. NK said:

well this is interesting

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April 5th, 2011, 10:00 pm

 

79. 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?

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April 5th, 2011, 10:14 pm

 

80. Leo said:

Souri,

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.

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April 6th, 2011, 12:14 am

 

81. 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’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jytzu7LCJOo

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 Shame..to 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…

Cheers

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April 6th, 2011, 12:32 am

 

82. 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.

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April 10th, 2011, 2:44 pm

 

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