Day 53 of the Syrian Uprising; over Six Killed; Fewer Demonstrators; Clinton Says Reform Still Possible

Death tolls for this Friday have been hard to quantify, according to the Guardian. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least six people had been shot dead after security forces opened fire in Homs and Hama. The National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria put the toll at 16 people nationwide.

Secretary of State Clinton said that reform was still possible in Syria. She seems to be giving Assad more time.

The death toll since the beginning of the uprising seven weeks ago is high at about 550 but still remains almost half of the death toll in Bahrain as a percent of citizens. In Egypt, over 800 were killed, which is about half of Syria’s toll given that Egypt’s population is over three times that of Syria’s. In Tunisia 219 protesters were killed during the uprising. Tunisia’s population is less than half of Syria’s at 10 million. In Yemen, about 125 people have now been killed. In Libya, The civilian death toll from the war is already estimated in the thousands, while streams of desperate refugees keep pouring into Tunisia, Egypt and Europe.

Syrian state television said an army officer and four policemen were shot dead by a “criminal gang” in Homs.

About 80 of Syria’s deaths are soldiers, security, and police according to Syrian government sources. Many more have been arrested as the government tries to track down the leadership networks and activists who have been organizing demonstrations. One of the main activists in Deraa, who was reporting by satellite phone throughout the confrontations was recently killed.

The opposition claim that Syrian security forces are responsible for shooting teh 80 dead soldiers. They claim that cracks are developing in military loyalty and soldiers are being executed for refusing to shoot on protesters. I have yet to see a reliable report of this.

One journalist writes: “I can’t stand these contradicting sources. As a journalist, it is a HUGE HEADACHE!!! Am jubilant right now because the paper decided to drop the article on Syria today. Didn’t know what to write!!! Press agencies talk about tanks around Damascus and elsewhere, friends from there see no trace of them. Thank God I don’t have to write!!!

Red Cross/Red Crescent report from Daraa

Today as a true eye witness and a Red Crescent FACT team (field assessment and coordination Team) we did an assessment Visit to Daraa city situation and brought some aid items and baby food with us, we also came up with the needs which we are working on for-filling ASAP.

some highlights from the report :

No mass destruction was noticed, water and electricity is available to almost all of Daraa, some shortage in food but not life threatening, army is distributing bread and essential materials to places since most of the shops are closed, shortage in some medicines because the pharmacies among with the shops are closed, water not reaching high floors since no electricity in some places to power the personal pumps, their maybe people whom are afraid to visit the national hospital so SARC will provide mobile clinic for those people in old part of Daraa city ASAP.

An opposition member reports: Day 53 of the Syrian Revolution; Friday of defiance.

Today’s protests in: Ankhel, Jasem, Sanamein, Zabadani, Daraiya, Harasta, Kisweh, Nawa, Al Tal, Barzah, Damascus (Meydan, Saliheiya, sit Zaynab, Hajar Aswad), Homs, Hama, Tal Kalakh, Baniyas, Jableh, Lattakiya, Al Bab, Idlib, Me’arit Nu’man, Salamiyah, Qamishly, Ain Al Arab, Hasakeh, Jisr Al Shoghoor….. (Despite the suffocating repression with live bullets and the threat of shabiey7a thugs..etc..)

Interesting tweets from Ben Wedeman (CNN legendary correspondent in Cairo):

“Good Egyptian source just back from Washington says israel is syrian regime’s most ardent advocate with congress, Obama administration.” Amid Syria’s turmoil, Israel sees Assad as the lesser evil

A regime supporter writes:

Aside from Homs, the total of people who demonstrated in Syria today was less than 5000. In Damascus there were about 500 protesters in the Islamist stronghold of Maydan.

In Banias, Al-Jazeera claimed that there were 10,000, but in the images they showed it was obvious that the protesters were less than a thousand people.

About 500 Kurds demonstrated in the northeast. The Kurdish demonstrations are the only demonstrations that can be called civil and I am glad that they all ended peacefully. The Kurdish demonstrations were the only demonstrations that had clear political demands and they were not motivated by sectarian or even ethnic motives as it appears from their slogans and the quality of people who participated.

In Aleppo as usual there were many failed attempts to start demonstrations. None of them gathered more than a 100 people.

Angry Arab writes: Al-Jazeera “clearly wants to have a day of rage and protests in Syria: so they keep airing the same phone video footage.  They tell viewers that there were massive demonstrations, and then you count like 40 or 50 in the protests.

Khaddam: ‘I expect the Syrian army to topple Assad!’ Friday Lunch Club

From NZ in Comment Section (5 May 2011)

For those who are talking in sectarian terms and saying that Christians are not interested in regime change are wrong.

Every one wishes a free Syria without bloodshed. The way this regime dealt with the latest unrest will no doubt have an organized opposition. They can not be given the benefit of doubt, no more. Their actions spoke volume. The autocratic management style of this regime will end up uglier than any other. Change is imminent. With millions, with or without tanks, they dug out there ending. They are exposed nationally and internationally. Game over.

From John Khouri in Comment Section (5 May 2011)

N.Z – I’m a Christian living in Homs and have relatives living in Aleppo And Damascus and Deir el Zor. I find it absolutely outrageous that people like yourself say that Christians want regime change. Stop speaking on behalf of the Christians of Syria. Come to Syria and see what is happening on the ground. My cousin’s wife in Daraa has packed up and moved in with us in Homs. The Christians in Daraa have had their churches firebombed for not participating in the anti-government demonstrations. Their priest has been threatened with his life. Wake up to ourselves. In Homs, all church ceremonies have been kept indoors due to the fact that thugs from Khaldieh and Bab el Omr keep entering the Hamadieh Christian area and screaming sectarian slogans throughout the night. 99.9% of Christians support the current Syrian government. All these so called freedom demonstrations have been hijacked by Islamists and Salafi’s. Stop being in denial and stop trying to promote these freedom demonstrations, which is completely opposite from the reality on the ground.

How the Syrian Government Refuses to do Public Relations

The United Group, which has been contracted by the Syria Government to help spread their message is not a PR company according to one friend who knows people there. It is a small (in regional standards) media and publishing company. The Syrian government is for some reason allergic to professional PR. The Syria Trust (associated with Assma) was the only entity to hire PR to promote their work. Now the Trust seems to be on hold and the PR guy in NYC, who was helping on the now postponed April 4-6 Historical Culture event, contacted Syria to see if the want help now. The answer was a predictable NO.

Construction and design of several worthy projects meant to boost tourism and promote Syrian culture are on hold such as Masar Al Thaqafi Al Suri and a planned modern arts Museum. Many big Gulf companies are pulling out or putting their work on hold because of the uprising and because their partners are none other than Rami and Maher associates.

Syria’s political crisis puts it on edge of economic precipice
Phil Sands
Last Updated: May 6, 2011

DAMASCUS //At a staff meeting this week, employees at a small but successful private company in Damascus were told they would be working without pay this month, a sign of gathering economic storm clouds, as Syria struggles with a grave political crisis.

According to one of the workers, managers announced pay would be halted for most staff members immediately, with employees asked to stay on effectively as volunteers in order to keep the firm ticking over. Crucially, no timetable was set for when payment of salaries would be resumed.

“They said they didn’t know when things would be back to normal, and that it would depend on what happened on Friday,” he said, on condition of anonymity. He also asked the company not be named because it has made no public announcement of the decision.

“If things are quiet on Friday, maybe it will be OK,” the employee said. “But if it’s another one like we had last week, then I’ll probably lose my job entirely. I expect that to happen.”

The Syrian authorities have been insisting all is well, projecting an air of confidence and normality, and trying to allay any sense of panic that the country might be teetering on the brink of an economic precipice, after more than six weeks of political unrest that has shaken the nation……

Hizbollah’s Most Serious Challenge
By Randa Slim Tuesday, May 3, 2011 – in Foreign Policy

The popular uprisings in Syria represent the most serious challenge to Hezbollah since the 2006 war with Israel. A regime change in Syria would threaten a major arms supply route to Hezbollah; deny the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis its Arab linchpin; weaken Hezbollah’s deterrence capacities vis-à-vis Israel; and deny the Hezbollah leaders and their families a safe haven when they feel threatened by Israel, as was the case in 2006. This poses a unique challenge to Hezbollah, which had comfortably sided with the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain. When Hezbollah’s Iranian mentor Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour was dismissed from his official post last April because of his sympathies with the Iranian opposition, Hezbollah was silent despite a heated debate inside the party ranks. The uprisings in Syria pose a challenge similar to the one they faced with the 2009 repression of the Green Movement in Iran.

How does Hezbollah really view the prospect of regime change in Damascus? In a recent round of interviews I conducted with Hezbollah officials in Beirut, all those I spoke to agreed that a regime change in Syria would not occur easily or peacefully. So far, Hezbollah officials believe that Bashar al Assad will survive. They believe that unlike Hosni Mubarak or Zein Ben Ali, Assad still enjoys a wide base of support especially in major cities like Damascus and Aleppo. As a senior Hezbollah official pointed out, “Alawites and Christians will not abandon Bashar.” The Assad regime and its wide base of support, they said, will fight back. Should Bashar al Assad fail to rein in the protests quickly, they fear a protracted civil war that would engulf Syria, spill over into Lebanon, especially in the north, and destabilize other countries in the region, including Turkey. Above all, even more than the loss of military and financial supply lines, these Hezbollah leaders fear a mortal blow to the “Resistance Axis” which has been central to their place in the Middle East.

While Syrian President Bashar al Assad was initially taken back by the protests, he and his close associates quickly closed ranks and opted for brute force to deal with future protests. Hezbollah’s reading of the Assad speech made on April 16 is that while responding to the people’s demands by offering a series of reform measures mainly focused on the lifting of the emergency law, Assad also made it clear that further protests will be met with an iron fist. Hezbollah officials to whom I spoke viewed the internal opposition as old, disorganized and decimated by years spent in Syrian jails. If regime change were to happen soon, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is the only organized political force in the country and would likely emerge as the main power broker in the country.

Hezbollah officials now believe that negotiations between the regime and the protest movement can no longer be expected to occur. They further argue that the critical factor in other Arab revolutions was the neutral role played by the army. In the case of Syria, they believe that the army still sides with the regime. It has yet to show signs of dissension, especially at the top levels. When questioned about the possibility of an internal coup d’etat led by an Alawite army official, these Hezbollah officials discounted this scenario – as one of them put it, chiefly for lack of an acceptable alternative to Bashar al Assad. They also pointed out that both Alawites and Christians fear the consequences to themselves of a Sunni take-over. A protracted civil war in Syria would eventually lead to a break-up of Syria into a number of mini-states divided among the country’s three major religious and ethnic groups: Alawites, Sunnis, and Kurds…. (an important article. Read the entire thing.)

Untangling Dictators’ Webs
By Brendan Greeley and Nicole Gaouette, BW Magazine

The State Dept. is funding tools to help online activists abroad

Antigovernment protesters in Syria have a hard time reaching the outside world, since the government selectively blocks cell-phone coverage in protest areas, and most use a slow dial-up Internet connection. Some of them rely on a contact overseas. The Syrian, who has seen the inside of prisons before and asked that his name not be printed, receives video files from activists in Daraa. The Syrian helps format the videos and posts them to YouTube. He’s exactly the kind of person the State Dept. would like to help right now: a pro-reform dissident, enabling others to get their story out through the Internet. But the Syrian is skeptical.

As the Administration struggles to keep up with the pace of change in the Arab world, the State Dept. is set to announce $28 million in grants for tools and training to help activists like the Syrian and his compatriots interact and organize online. The grants are a way to combat “repression 2.0,” as Michael Posner, the Assistant Secretary of State for the agency’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, puts it. Autocrats and their intelligence operatives are increasingly turning to social media and sophisticated technologies to track and infiltrate dissident groups. Before the fall of dictator Ben Ali, for instance, Tunisian authorities uploaded phony Facebook and Gmail login pages with the aim of stealing the passwords of activists. In the past, U.S. officials thought that if dissidents could simply get to Facebook, Twitter, and other unrestricted sites on the open Web, they could organize themselves. Posner now says that training activists to avoid traps and giving them the tools to stay safe in digital environments is “perhaps the most critical part” of countering online repression.

According to Posner, State has already held training sessions for 5,000 digital activists around the world, including one in February in Beirut that brought together participants from Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. The sessions, quietly run by local organizations, teach participants which websites and technologies are most vulnerable to government monitoring—and which government-seeded rumors about technology are false. Daniel B. Baer, the deputy assistant secretary in the democracy bureau, says that in one country, the government spread rumors that police took screenshots of every computer every five minutes. Baer says State pays for travel to a safe place for the training and describes the program as “an underground railroad of trust.”

The agency has already awarded about $22 million in Internet freedom grants and plans to raise the total to $50 million by the summer. The current round of grants will largely be dedicated to building the kind of digital tools activists need. To keep up with both activists and governments, the State Dept. will have to start acting more like a venture capitalist, says Posner, doling out seed money to developers.

Katrin Verclas runs MobileActive.org, a New York-based nonprofit. MobileActive has received State funding to build a “panic button” that allows activists, if arrested or pursued, to send a text message to a group of contacts in a way that doesn’t show up on the phone’s call log. The app also erases potentially incriminating data. MobileActive developed the tool to run on Java-enabled phones, such as BlackBerrys and the low-end Nokia phones that overseas activists are more likely to own. The group has made the code freely available and hopes to develop a community to sustain it. An Android version is in the works. “It’s like having a baby,” says Verclas, “you need to keep feeding it.”

Not everyone is eager to take State’s money, particularly when it’s for on-the-ground training. The Syrian, for one, doubts that the money always makes it to the right people. He’s seen foreign aid go to groups with no domestic credibility and seen other groups quietly take U.S. funding and then denounce America. Several other Internet activists reached by phone last week expressed similar sentiments. Hisham Almiraat, a Moroccan blogger based in France who asked to be identified by his pen name, traveled to a conference in Budapest in 2010 that was funded in part by the State Dept. He faced criticism online for attending. “Your credibility, your online reputation, becomes fundamental to your work,” he says. “We cannot afford to be seen as agents.”

The latest Middle Eastern anxiety — America spreading its influence over the Middle East through the Muslim Brotherhood. The new strategy of the US: Using the MB Sunni ‘newlook’ to counter the Iran Shia influence in the region.

La Syrie reste au cœur des spéculations
Par Scarlett HADDAD | 06/05/2011, L’Orient-Le Jour

…..Certains analystes estiment à cet égard que la nouvelle stratégie de l’administration américaine reposerait justement sur l’utilisation des Frères musulmans dans l’ensemble du monde arabe pour combattre l’Iran et ses alliés. Ces analystes ajoutent que maintenant qu’ils se sont débarrassés d’Oussama Ben Laden, les Américains peuvent de nouveau miser sur le courant islamiste pour juguler l’influence iranienne au Moyen-Orient. Ils auraient confié la mission de rendre les Frères musulmans « fréquentables » au parti au pouvoir en Turquie qui représente un islam moderne jugé tout à fait acceptable par l’administration américaine. Cette dernière devait toutefois auparavant frapper un grand coup pour justifier le recours à ces organisations longtemps considérées comme terroristes et non fiables. Ce fut la mort de Ben Laden, considéré comme l’ennemi public numéro 1 des Américains et de la communauté internationale en général.

Les États-Unis ont pendant des années justifié leur appui au régime de Hosni Moubarak en Égypte par le fait que la seule relève possible est formée des Frères musulmans. Ces derniers s’apprêtent aujourd’hui à se lancer dans la prochaine bataille électorale en réclamant la moitié des sièges au Parlement, après avoir formé un parti officiellement laïc, comme l’exige la Constitution du pays. En parallèle, les Frères musulmans de Syrie, qui se sont choisi un nouveau leader, Riyad Chakfa, ont le champ libre à partir d’Istanbul. Championne de l’islam à visage acceptable pour les Américains, la Turquie serait ainsi visiblement appelée à remplacer l’Égypte comme leader des pays musulmans proaméricains dans la région. En même temps, les États-Unis ont rapidement réussi à démanteler ce qui était considéré comme l’axe fort de la région et qui était formé de la Turquie, de la Syrie, de l’Iran et du Qatar. Le Qatar s’est ainsi aligné sur la politique turque qui, elle, ne dissimule pas ses critiques à l’égard du régime syrien…..

Katherine Marsh on the Gay Girl in Damascus blogger that SC highlighted last week.

Hariri Tribunal prosecutor amends indictment – Jpost

Tunisia’s ousted leader charged over shooting deaths…. An arrest warrant has been issued for Tunisia’s former interior minister, Rafik Belhaj Kacem, on charges of murder,

Egyptian Head of Security Tried

In a packed courtroom, a Cairo judge sentenced the former security henchman to seven years for corruption and five years for money laundering, and fined him 15m Egyptian pounds ($2.5m). But Adly still faces the much graver charge of giving the order to kill civilians during the 18-day uprising, as well as misusing public funds. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. “This is just an appetiser,” wrote Khaled Tawfeek on a Facebook page commemorating an activist who died in police custody. “Let’s hold our breath [for] when he falls for killing protesters.”

Adly has been held along with roughly 30 senior members of the old regime, including the deposed prime minister and Mr Mubarak’s two sons, following the uprising. Most face corruption charges, but some will face allegations related to the handling of the protests. Adly will next appear in court on 21 May to face trial for the deaths of protesters.

Mr Mubarak, 82, has also been detained on similar charges and the country’s justice minister has warned that the former president, who is convalescing in hospital after a heart attack, could face the death penalty if convicted.

One of Egypt’s most publicly reviled officials, Adly was the public face behind the feared security services, which tortured its citizens with impunity. Fury at police brutality was one of the primary reasons for the uprising, with the Police Day holiday on 25 January chosen as the first day of the protests.

More than 800 people were killed during the nearly three weeks of protests, many of them shot in the head and upper body, which has been used as evidence by some that security forces aimed to kill.

Food Prices

ROME — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Friday that global shortages of food and spiraling prices threaten widespread destabilization and is urging immediate action to forestall a repeat of the 2007 and 2008 crisis that led to riots in dozens of countries around the developing world.

Clinton told a meeting of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization that urgent steps are needed to hold down costs and boost agricultural production as food prices continue to rise.

Although the situation is not yet as dire as it was four years ago, she said the consequences of inaction would be “grave.”

“We must act now, effectively and cooperatively, to blunt the negative impact of rising food prices and protect people and communities,” she said at the FAO’s headquarters in Rome.

The U.N. estimates that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since last June because of rising food prices,

Comments (91)


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51. Mawal95 said:

I just watched a superb music performance at Youtube. I went to the user page of the person who uploaded it in search of more good music, and I found that many of the other videos he (or she) uploaded are pro-Bashar political stuff. I’ve found that many times over the past couple of months: the “cool” people in Syria support the establishment.

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May 7th, 2011, 9:41 am

 

52. Observer said:

Well again all I said is that there are UNVERIFIED reports of atrocities. Today, the reports speak of children as young as 12 taken to schools and beaten savagely and the use of electrical shocks and nail crushing on older ones.

I am neither affirming nor denying anything.

The fact that demonstrations happened yesterday and today is very telling. The fact that HRW is looking into crimes against humanity is telling.

I have a few questions/observations about the pattern that is happening in city after city:

1. It seems that cutting water and electricity and phone service is the norm. If it is the work of saboteurs then they must have had access to the plants which I find incredibly hard to believe. If it is the work of the security forces it amounts to collective punishment. If it is not then it is complete negligence on the part of the respective authorities.

2. Reformers posted on the facebook page of AlThawra newspaper a set of proposals addressed to the President showing him the way and asking him to shun the hard core elements within his administration who have chosen the route of force. They actually tell him that the country would be grateful and would make it a stronger bastion against Israeli hegemony if he does so.

3. The best way to “show” the world the bias of such and such a satellite news channel is to actually allow all of them to operate: clearly the Aljazeera and BBC and Alarabyia and RT and CNN and Alalam and AlManar and LBC and etc….. would compete with each other and the truth would come out. As long as the news are only from SANA and the mouthpieces of the regime there will be a significant credibility gap.

4. A silent majority is on the sidelines especially in mercantile Damascus and Aleppo and the outcome has come to what Haitham Maleh said: either the regime falls or the Syrian people fall. If we are going to go back to the status quo of the 80’s or 90’s then God help Syria as there will be no future and no hope and no ability to put the millions of people back to work. If the country closes up no foreign investments will pour in and capital flight will continue. Smuggling, graft, corruption, hatred, sectarianism will thrive and grow even if under the surface only to explode again in a few years.

5. Most people want REFORM WITHIN rather than FALL of the regime for they are yearning for stability, economic opportunity, and most importantly bureaucratic freedom and only after that political and constitutional freedom. The regime thinks that any concession would lead to total fall of the regime. Well this will be true for some economically privileged few but the regime will stay and will grow stronger even if reforms are instituted quickly. The regime has to accelerate now not only to move fast but to truly accelerate exactly the opposite of what the President said.

6. I believe that there is no difference at this time between the various brothers they have all fallen very close to the tree and they are very similar to the father in thuggery and ruthlessness. They are also banking on one community only to support them along with all the force needed to do it.

Observations and factual analysis are what we need and none of this emotional Mumbo Jumbo that we read on this blog.

Ehsani please post and save us.

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May 7th, 2011, 9:44 am

 

53. Revlon said:

One of the biggest funerals for Martyr Soldier Abdulmajeed Ra7moon, in his town of Jirjnaz, Idlib.
He was another victim of military mutiny.

Al Fati7a upon his soul.
May God bless his family with solace and empower them with patience.

الصلاة على الشهيد العسكري عبدالمجيد رحمون

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May 7th, 2011, 9:53 am

 

54. Revlon said:

Three ladies have fallen martyrs in Baniyas today, courtesy of Jr’s Wa2dulfitnah.
AlFati7a upon their souls,

May God bless their families with solace and empower them with patience.
حركة سوريا شباب من أجل الحرية Youth Syria For Freedom
bbc عاجل || استشهاد 3 نساء بالقرب من مدينة بانياس
..
about a minute ago

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May 7th, 2011, 10:02 am

 

55. Edward said:

Pathetic how the pro-regime apologists are painting this as a Wahabi conspiracy against our glorious steadfast nation who has always stood up for Arab causes against western and Israeli imperialism. Choosing to ignore such inconvenient facts as the mass popular uprisings taking place across the Arab world (no no we’re not like them, we’re Syrians, we love our president!!!my beebol luv me) or the 40 odd years of rampant corruption, theft, abuse of power and systematic destruction of the infrastructure, police, judiciary, education and military of Syria by the Baath, rendering Syria a barely functioning Banana Republic where a substantial proportion of the well-to-do are above the law(due to paying bribes or connections), while the rest of the population languishes in poverty and servitude, and the Mukhabarat can kidnap, disappear or kill anyone, including judges, ministers and mp’s with total impunity. How about we not mention Syria’s occupation of Lebanon and the terrible abuses committed there by the security forces? or how about we forget Hama in 1982, and the chilling tales of people being buried alive by bulldozers with the rubble and debris of their destroyed houses?
or how about we forget that the C.I.A sent rendered terrorism suspects to be tortured in Syria’s mukhabarat dungeons? or how about we pretend we don’t see daily, government officials driving a 9 million lira Benz past destitute children begging at traffic lights (I drive past one every day on my way to work, today I stopped to talk to her, she told me she and her family live in a gas station after her father died).

For God’s sake people, just have the decency to admit that this regime has dragged our country to the ground and destroyed it. The people are fed up, they’ve had enough, they want it to end, they want a new tomorrow, they want their dignity back. They’ve braved tanks and guns and Mukhabarat and Shabeha thugs because they’ve had enough. Hundreds have given their lives for this cause, how dare you desecrate their memory and belittle their noble struggle? We have a phrase to describe how we feel about people like you and it’s “Tfooh 3alek”

Only an idiot would believe your nonsense of a global Zionist- Hariri-Saudi-Salafist-Aljazeera-Western plot to destroy the harmony and utopia that the Syrian people enjoy under their wise, benevolent and “for-ever” supreme ruler and commander, who God surly must have picked for us from amongst a select few saints, as we’re not supposed to ever question his authority or decisions, otherwise God will strike down upon his with furious anger, manifest in khaki wearing Mukhabarat and Amn (not to be confused with other types of Angles).

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May 7th, 2011, 10:15 am

 

56. why-discuss said:

Observer

Your observation totally ignore the geopolitical context of the region. Syria is not another planet, it s submitted to all what is happening around: The flip of Egypt toward supporting the resistance and opening up to Iran, Bahrain in a turmoil, North Africa on fire, Iran’s interference, Israel lost in translation,.
All this has much more importance that the Human rights activist lobbies in allowing the international community to take a firm stand about Syria.
Until the region settles and the players are clearly defined, the UE and the US will give lip service to the situation.
I worry that Syria’s situation will remain in limbo: On one side the people who want a change of regime at any costs, blood and foreign intervention, and the ones who prefer the stability offered by the regime, despite its abuses.
Until now the blood has spilled but the regime stands strong and ‘brutal’ to use a term repeated at all occasions by anti-regime promoters. The opposition who knows that a Libyan style help will be a disaster, are clinging on the Human rights activists and the media to stir the international public opinion. Their hope: A official position declaring that Bashar al Assad is a criminal to be sued by the ICC and who does not represent the country anymore. The question the opposition has no answer to: Is ever this happen, who will represent the country? The army? The MB ? Michel Kilo?
Until they have an answer and present to the international community an acceptable alternative ( pro-US, pro-peace with Israel), they can show hundred of gory videos, call for freedom, count the dead, call for inquiries, nothing will happen expect weakening Syria as a whole and set it up for a gloomy future.

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May 7th, 2011, 10:15 am

 

57. why-discuss said:

Edward

“Only an idiot would believe your nonsense of a global Zionist- Hariri-Saudi-Salafist-Aljazeera-Western plot ”

Only idiots would not.

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May 7th, 2011, 10:18 am

 

58. Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

I truly hope that Assad will dismantle the Progressive National Front and allow parties to compete for parliament seats and for the PM office. We don’t need new parties as much as we need political competition.

The Progressive National Front has Communist, Syrian Nationalist, and National Socialist parties—all are leftist or ‘progressive’ parties. There are no rightist or conservative parties now in Syria. Such parties used to dominate Syrian political life before the union with Egypt. The major two conservative parties were the People’s Party (headquarter in Aleppo) and the National Party (headquarter in Damascus). These two parties were composed of Sunni and Christian feudal figures (just like the type that still rules Lebanon until now). They are remembered in Syria for their sectarianism and corruption. The MB is another radical conservative party that used to exist until 1982. The MB was a marginal force in the 1950’s, but they grew considerably in power in the 1960’s-1970’s in reaction to the 1963 coup.

The Syrian regime fears any conservative political force because it knows that most Syrians are conservatively oriented (in the regime terms: مجتمع رجعي). The Sunnis in Syria are either Islamist or simply ‘conservative,’ which means that they would prefer to vote for a Sunni businessman or notable figure from their own town rather than to vote for an ideological party like the Baath. If true democratic elections take place in Syria, the Baath will get a very modest share of votes. Most people will vote either for the Islamists or for notable local figures. This will create a political map similar to the Lebanese political map (or the Syrian political map before 1958), that is, a political map dominated by sectarian and regional allegiances rather than political orientation. The society will tear up to its sectarian, ethnic, tribal, and regional identities and the weak national indetity that currently exists will quickly vanish, especially when such radical forces as the Islamists have a significant power in society.

This is a very tricky situation. The regime will be careful to prevent any Islamist or regionalist parties from emerging while it opens up politically, but how will they prevent simple conservative parties from emerging? Such parties can be a disguise for Islamist parties. In Turkey, this was not a problem, but in Syria the regime seems to be unwilling to accept any Islamist party even if it was disguised as a conservative secular party. This may be the reason for why the regime is clinging to the Progressive National Front—they simply do not want to allow any conservative parties. What Assad will do is to change article 8 of the constitution to say that the Progressive National Front rules Syria instated of the Baath. He will also allow new parties to form and join the front, which means that ‘unprogressive’ parties will not be allowed to form. The Alawis still remember with bitterness the conservative parties of the 1940’s-1950’s and they will not allow them to be back.

I personally have no problem with any of that. I am progressive and I don’t think conservative parties can work in such a diverse and backward society as Syria. However, the regime must allow some sort of competition between the parties. A political process without competition will not be tolerated anymore by most Syrians. The regime has to find a formula that allows the parties of the Progressive Front to compete with each other.

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May 7th, 2011, 10:29 am

 

59. Abughassan said:

People have the right to protest and change their government but they should not be allowed to kill and destroy. No army in the world will allow thugs to fire at its officers and soldiers and stay idle. Claiming that the regime is doing all the killing is a blatant lie and reflects the dishonesty of some bloggers and Facebook fighters. There will be no future for Syria until there is security in the streets. I have listened to some Syrians stating that they prefer an American occupation over this regime,some have even praised the Iraqi model.
I yet have to see a single reputable media source that reports the whole truth and not just half the truth.until Syrians denounce violence from all sides and reject the internationalization of this crisis I see no way out for Syria.

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May 7th, 2011, 10:29 am

 

60. jad said:

تشييع جثامين 11 شهيداً من الجيش والشرطة استهدفتهم المجموعات الإرهابية المتطرفة بحمص أمس إلى مدنهم وقراهم
07 أيار , 2011
حمص-سانا

شيعت من المشفى العسكري بحمص اليوم جثامين 11 شهيدا من الجيش والشرطة استهدفتهم مجموعات إرهابية متطرفة في مناطق متفرقة من المحافظة أمس إلى مدنهم وقراهم.
وجرت للشهداء مراسم تشييع مهيبة وحملوا على الأكف وعزفت موسيقا الجيش لحني الشهيد والوداع.

والشهداء هم: المقدم أحمد هلال حلاق من محافظة إدلب بلدة ارمناز.

المساعد أول خضر محمود أوغلي من محافظة طرطوس منطقة صافيتا قرية المتراس.

المساعد أول اسماعيل محمود خضور من محافظة حمص قرية خربة التين.

المساعد اول نبراس محمود السلوم من محافظة حمص قرية الفردوس .

الرقيب غدير نايف ربوع من محافظة حمص قرية المظهرية.

العريف ماجد يوسف ديب من محافظة حماة قرية خنيفس.

المجند فواز خليل الابراهيم من محافظة الرقة قرية النهضة.

المساعد أول الشرطي جورج اليان من محافظة حمص بلدة صدد.

الشرطي ثائر جردو من محافظة حمص قرية الغور الغربية.

الشرطي محمد معروف من محافظة حمص قرية الشعيرات.

الشرطي بسام أبو العنز من محافظة حمص قرية الزعفرانية الشرقية.

http://sana.sy/ara/336/2011/05/07/345283.htm

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May 7th, 2011, 10:33 am

 

61. Observer said:

In Syria at present there are no regional or geostrategic issues on the minds of the protesters. The EU the US Israel and KSA and Iran and others do not want major instability in Syria. On the other hand the people want bureaucratic freedom, economic liberty and opportunity, and an end to the thuggery and graft and corruption.

The protests still to this day with the posting on Facebook is still positing the need for reform within the system rather than its replacement.

This is the last chance, the regime may survive and will rule over an even more rotten and failed state than it had ever been.

This may be what the regime wants. It is only postponing the inevitable.

Autocratic rule is finished. Totalitarian regimes are finished. Participatory governing is inevitable.

Finally, the mention of sects on this blog clearly shows one more time that Syria is NOT a nation but a failed state.

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May 7th, 2011, 11:01 am

 

62. Edward said:

here are more of Bashar’s “reforms”, 3 women killed in Banyas today:

1- Ahlam Hawayskeh 2- Liela Taha 3- Liela Sahyoneey

اسماء الشهيدات في بانياس اليوم
أحلام حويسكية
ليلى طه
ليلى صهيوني

were they also armed Salafist terrorists??????

and the disturbing close range execution of a protester in Homs yesterday under a hail of automatic fire:

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May 7th, 2011, 11:28 am

 

63. why-discuss said:

Jad

In a true democracy, you must accept the risk that the people vote for a party that is sectarian even if on the long term it may be a disaster, i.e The national socialist headed by Hitler was democratically elected, as well as the FIS in Algeria.
While religious allegeance are still there, I guess ideologies are out of fashion. Common people in poor country like Syria think first about jobs, money, security whatever ideology the controlling party is following.
The common Syrian has lived under the Baath party umbrella with all the advantages provided by a socialist system and they take it for granted. They are not educated enough politically to see what a ‘conservative’ system will bring and what it will take away from them. So they can be very easily fooled by promises of jobs and could elect a rich businessman just for that, unaware of the consequences.
This is what Bashar meant when he says that Syrians are not ready for a democracy. They are simply not politically educated.
The Baath party brought an valid ideology and security but failed in providing jobs and shattered political awareness, except in foreign policies. I guess many syrians fascinated by the apparent economical success of Lebanon would want to try a similar system.
While the rich will become richer, the poor would start to realize what they lost. Then maybe at next election, it will swing again..
That’s the game of democracy: trial and errors.
It is possible that the present government fearing for a return to the messy political life in the 50’s would try by any means to keep the system a socialist system, but I wonder how can they succeed while raising political awareness. It is a real dilemma

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May 7th, 2011, 11:36 am

 

64. why-discuss said:

OBSERVER

Do you really think it is enough that hundred of thousands of people protest to have a system changed?
The geopolitical situation of Syria make it that the changes may or may not happen depending on the will of the superpowers who would be affected by these changes.
This is why it is vain to call for an immediate change. Change will come in due time, when the geopolitical situation is clearer. In the meantime either the regime is given a chance to amend (even if many believe it can’t) or if they escalate, the continuous protests may bring the country down. The ball is in the hand of the opposition, but as they are fragmented and carried away by their half successes, I think they will pursue their current line of relentless protests with predictable consequences.

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May 7th, 2011, 11:51 am

 

65. Akbar Palace said:

“Only an idiot would believe your nonsense of a global Zionist- Hariri-Saudi-Salafist-Aljazeera-Western plot ”

Why Discuss,

You disagreed with Edward when he stated the above comment.

What evidence do you have that there IS a “Zionist- Hariri-Saudi-Salafist-Aljazeera-Western plot”?

Change will come in due time…

Why Discuss,

Perhaps if there were term limits, something would have changed already with 40+ years of Assad rule. Maybe Syrians don’t believe it.

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May 7th, 2011, 11:52 am

 

66. why-discuss said:

AP

Edward thinks that everybody except him is an idiot.
There are a lot of reputable analysts who admit that there is a truth in the role of the sunni-salafi in the uprising. Just look at the analysis from Scarlett Haddad (in french) in Joshua’s summary.

So Edward, because he can’t prove otherwise is obviously in a state of hysteria. He is calling people names and threatening them. He should learn how to calm down and read more views than his.

I agree that the first reform should be a term limit.

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May 7th, 2011, 12:08 pm

 

67. AIG said:

Dagan (former head of the Mossad), clearly says that is is better for Israel if Assad falls.
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4065684,00.html

The above is in Hebrew.

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May 7th, 2011, 12:14 pm

 

68. Norman said:

The solution for the Syrian crises is for the opposition to declare victory and their faith in the president and call for a suspension of the Demonstration for at least 2 to 4 weeks to give time for the president to move forward on reform as the government , the Army and the Baath party will not not give any concessions under pressure , so i see next that the President will declare a multiparty system that will allow competition in political life, i believe that he will need to do that not just to calm the street but also to save the Baath party and make sure that it will have a future in Syria as any violent end to the current regime will destroy any chance for the baath party as it happened in Iraq,
What the president should do is put rules in the new party law to secure the secular nature of the party without micromanaging these parties, two things i see as essentials, the first one is that no religous parties are allowed, Christians, Sunni, Alawat, Druz and others and no ethnic parties like Kurdish, Assyrians Armenians, in short , no parties that are exclusive of any Syrian to join because of ethnic or religous associations,I would like districts with certain number of people who elect one representative from each district from people in that district who belong to any party in the running and have a candidate, the people of each districts are the people who are registered and live there , not live in Damascus and vote in Hassaka because they are Kurds or Assyrian , people have to vote where they live not where they come from, The parliament will be made of all these representative, decentralization is essential and dividing each large city into towns with their own city council, Mayer, police department fire department and let them elect these people who are responsible to their own voters and can be changed by a recall rule or new election at the end of their term, a senate with senators from each county 3 probably will give the same voice for the small county as the large county , and as in the US you need 60% of the senators to make major changes, each county will have a county executive and a municipal council that is elected by the people of the county, not assigned like the old System of the Caliphate by the Calif or the president, and can be changed by the vote or the recall, any candidate should have a residency requirement of at least 2 years to prevent implanting people for elections ,

As you can see that is the system that is in the US and as in the US Syria has many ethnic and religous group and i really believe that a system like the one in the US is the best one for Syria ,

Islamic movement even when they are not allowed to have parties they can still influence election by having an Islamic associations that can support candidates that most fit their believes,as long as they do not get any support financially or morally from out of the country associations or countries,
Anti Discrimination laws in Housing and employment are essential to diverse people so they are not congregating in their tribal or ethnic, religous areas,

It is very important in any political system to be sure that the election are free from outside support and financing , The way Israel does that can be helpful and followed,any outside influence will brig Syria back to be a banana republic as it was in the fifties,

Finally, Syria will go into a turmoil but eventually will settle down and people will be looking for people to elect that will make their lives better, not for their affiliation or religion,

The army will be the safeguard for the secular nature of the state that will ensure the peaceful transition of power after each election ,
I personally not for term limit for the presidency as that is only for the leaders to have their turn to be president , what is important is a free and clean election and if the people are tired of the president they can push him out but if they like him whoever he is they should be able to keep him,

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May 7th, 2011, 12:27 pm

 

69. why-discuss said:

AIG

Total confusion in Israel.

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May 7th, 2011, 12:35 pm

 

70. Sophia said:

“The backdrop is how far the Western countries have gone with the mandate gave them in Libya, with absentions from Russia and China. Now other countries, including other abstainers but even some members which voted in favor of Resolution 1973 on Libya, are dubious about even beginning a similar process on Syria.”
http://www.innercitypress.com/sc7syria050611.html

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May 7th, 2011, 12:42 pm

 

71. why-discuss said:

Norman

A sign of hope, Al Jazeera today 7 may:

“Syrian opposition figures called on president Bashar al-Assad to embrace democracy and hold elections within six months, saying he could transform the country and become a source of pride.

Addressing Assad, The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page said “The solution is simple: Stop shooting at demonstrators, allow peaceful demonstrations, remove all your photos and those of your father, release all political prisoners, allow political pluralism and free elections in six months.”

The page, a motor of anti-regime protests, said “you will be the pride of contemporary Syria if you can transform Syria from a dictatorship into a democracy. Syrians would be grateful for that, and it is possible to do”. This is the first time that anyone in the opposition has offered such detailed proposals in seven weeks of protests in which hundreds have been killed in a violent crackdown.”

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May 7th, 2011, 12:43 pm

 

72. why-discuss said:

Sophia

The Libyan situation is a total failure of France, UK and Italy foreign policy.
The Libyan tribes are treating the rebels as traitors… Misurata is still under the fire, rebels beg for money.. no hope in the near future,

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/05/20115744221892886.html

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May 7th, 2011, 12:47 pm

 

73. jad said:

WD,#68
I’m sure that some on this site will call them ‘regime mouthpiece’ and ‘president’s lover’ for stating that 🙂

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May 7th, 2011, 1:06 pm

 

74. محمود said:

بعد المستفيض من الجدال تبين ان هده الطريقة في تقوض استقرار الدول و اشعال نار الفتن باسم الثورات مناسبة للاستخدام في أمريكا متعددة الاعراق و المداهب و اسرائيل متعددة القوميات و الدهنيات و مناسبة جدا أيضا للاستخدام في أوروبا المريضة !

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May 7th, 2011, 1:13 pm

 

75. Shami said:

Why,aoun keep repeating what he is told from hezbollah ,he became more khomainist than them ,Scartet Haddad is pro Aoun and is not objective at all.
Hezbollah biggest enemy are the Sunnis ,because they know that whatever is the regime in post Asad Syria ,secular or not ,they will be weakened in Syria.Post Syria ,will fight iranian theocracy influence ,but will remain anti Israel.
Extremist salafism is a marginal movement they are not more than 1% in Syria.
But when Hezbollah people speak on Salafis ,their targer are all the Sunnis who are opposed to Shia extremists.

As for the christians in Syria ,under Asad regime,their percentage went down from 12% in 1970 to less than 5% today.

Most of christians i know are anti Asad,only the islamophobic christians support his regime ,less for their love for him but because of their hatred on anything related to Islam.

Lately some of them joined this forum.

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May 7th, 2011, 1:13 pm

 

76. Shami said:

Why,aoun keeps repeating what he is told from hezbollah ,he became more khomainist than them ,Scartet Haddad is pro Aoun and is not objective at all.
Hezbollah biggest enemy are the Sunnis ,because they know that whatever is the regime in post Asad Syria ,secular or not ,they will be weakened in Lebanon.Post Syria ,will fight iranian theocracy influence ,but will remain anti Israel.
Extremist salafism is a marginal movement they are not more than 1% in Syria.
But when Hezbollah people speak on Salafis ,their targer are all the Sunnis who are opposed to Shia extremists.

As for the christians in Syria ,under Asad regime,their percentage went down from 12% in 1970 to less than 5% today.

Most of christians i know are anti Asad,only the islamophobic christians support his regime ,less for their love for him but because of their hatred on anything related to Islam.

Lately some of them joined this forum.

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May 7th, 2011, 1:15 pm

 

77. why-discuss said:

Shami and the anti-Assad passionarias

What percentage of the opposition is represented by “The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook”
Is there another opposition hub on internet or elsewhere?

“their “hatred” on anything related to Islam”
I would change that term to “distrust”.

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May 7th, 2011, 1:21 pm

 

78. Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

What Shami wrote in #75 is exactly the Wahhabi point of view. Thanks for bringing it to this blog because it is important and it is the point of view of the demonstrators.

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May 7th, 2011, 1:35 pm

 

79. jad said:

New TV
مقدمة نشرة 07 05 2011

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May 7th, 2011, 1:39 pm

 

80. Sophia said:

#75 Shami

“Extremist salafism is a marginal movement they are not more than 1% in Syria.
But when Hezbollah people speak on Salafis ,their targer are all the Sunnis who are opposed to Shia extremists.”

Don’t you see any contradiction in what you write? suppose that salafis are 1% (which they’re not), can you tell me what is the target of Salafis? And why are they extremists? You cannot be an extremist without an agenda, right?

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May 7th, 2011, 1:45 pm

 

81. Norman said:

Shami,

I do not know why you do not get the fact that the Christians in Syria, do not like or hate the Alawat, I thought they are Muslims, President, Sunni, Jews, druz, They just want to have the same rights and obligations that every citizen has, So far the Alawat and the Baath party are the only ones who are guaranteeing that to them, Islam was never the problem and that is why Christians stayed in Syria christian after Islam came they changed their religion after the Crusade came and they are fleeing now after the eighties and American came, they are smart enough to see what is coming

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May 7th, 2011, 1:50 pm

 

82. jad said:

Blind witness – شاهد عميان
http://soundcloud.com/murdereyez/blind-witness

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May 7th, 2011, 1:52 pm

 

83. Shami said:

SOPHIA,not all the salafis are extremists but for aoun and hezballah anybody who is against asad is a salafi extremist and wahhabi,it appears clearly in their media and in your comments .They are scared from the future ,we are considered,we as syrian people as a threat according to their logic ,such syndrom is common among the isolated minorities.We can do nothing with such people ,they will still cultivate this culture of fear of treachery.
Norman,again,i never said that the anti Asad christians are anti alawites.
Souri333,it’s your relatives who are religious extremists,clean your house.
In the Arab world ,Extremism will always remain a marginal phenomenon and islamism is a dying ideology.
Syria and Egypt ,will resume their renaissance stopped by the authoritarian regimes in the 50’s.

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May 7th, 2011, 2:21 pm

 

84. Norman said:

WD,
The opposition did not call yet for some time to see the reform, they called to continue the protest. until they call for calm and a chance for the president to move forward, their plan is not genuine,

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May 7th, 2011, 3:37 pm

 

85. why-discuss said:

Norman

I agree. They ask Bashar to do something now and they offer nothing in return.
So it is just bluff. By this game of words, I think they now bear the responsibility of the continuation of the bloodshed.

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May 7th, 2011, 5:03 pm

 

86. annie said:

I hope Edward does not mind my reproducing his very convincing and moving argument on my blog. When you watch Syrian TV you might indeed think this is all about Syria being assaulted by a bunch of terrorists. It is difficult to have a clear picture from outside the country.

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May 7th, 2011, 5:37 pm

 

87. Chris W said:

I read some of your ‘blog, Annie. It was quite informative. Thanks.

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May 7th, 2011, 6:49 pm

 

88. edward said:

#86 go right ahead Annie, I’d be honored 🙂

Can I just suggest to all those smart asses who are manipulating percentage of population protesting vs silent majority yadda yadda bla bla, and claiming everyone loves Bashar and only a handful of rotten Salafists are spoiling the party for everyone, a novel new idea you can try … How about *shock *gasp *horror we hold free and fair elections in Syria! and because Bashar is so loved and admired by his people (as you claim at every conceivable opportunity) he should have no problem gaining a landslide victory. There you go, problem solved, Salafists can sod off back to Saudi, and protesters can go back to their day jobs giving pedicures or washing lamp posts or whatever the plebs are doing these days.
And if you mention the 99.9 or 97.6 or whatever silly figure Bashar got in the previous “referendums” Ima slap you across the face with a limp piece of Basterma.

Fact: Bashar and his regime are a minority ruling a majority, they have at best the support of a third of the population only. Do not go around claiming that Syrians like Bashar or his regime, that’s a load of nonsense.

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May 8th, 2011, 10:29 am

 

89. CwazyWabbit said:

@Anni:
Since when the public Media in Arab countries was speaking for the “People” and not the “Benefit of some bureaucratic”

It’s obvious that the Media in Syria is biased to the Syrian government and whoever is working from behind the curtains, not to mention so-called “private” media that makes me *sick*

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May 8th, 2011, 10:45 am

 

90. Anne said:

From the archives of The Syria Comment, July 25TH 2007:

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=326

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May 9th, 2011, 11:36 pm

 

91. stevieb said:

One only has to watch CNN for half-an-hour to come to the realization, based on the constant attempt at linkage between Assad’s ‘oppression’ of his own people and Iranian ‘hegemony’, that this is a Zionist operation. The timing; the history of Zionist infiltration and destabilization of Syria; the history of neoconservative machinations in America towards the destabilizing of the entire ME for the benefit of Israel; further, but not finally, the orations of the POTUS for Assad to ‘step down, to further the democratic process’; I’m not an expert on the Syrian people, but I won’t accept that they can’t see what’s happening around them and know what the problem is. The Arab spring is about shaking off Zionst supported dictators…

Those who try to rubbish Zionist involvement in these dynamics have obviously learned nothing from the last decade…

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August 12th, 2011, 11:03 am

 

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