Posted by Joshua on Saturday, March 19th, 2011
Momentum is building for the opposition. The demonstrations are getting bigger with each day. They started out gathering between 100 to 300. Today’s demonstration was well over 1,000 in Deraa. The New York Times is reporting that 20,000 joined the funeral march in Deraa. The killing of four in Deraa is new. Many Syrians claim that this is the first time President Assad has drawn blood with the shooting of demonstrators. The Kurdish intifada of 2004 in the Jazeera ended with the death of many but that occurred following the successful constitutional referendum in Iraq and was blamed on external factors. To many Syrians, this time seems different.
It is unclear where this can lead as the opposition has no leadership and Syria has no organized parties. All the same, we are in a new era. If demonstrations grow to the point that security forces are overwhelmed, the situation could change rapidly. Not all regions or cities of Syria would behave the same. The top brass of the armed forces are unlikely to abandon the leadership as they did in Tunisia or Egypt; all the same, loyalties would be divided for many. The next few days will be telling. The Deraa demonstrations were sparked by the arrest of 15 children for scrawling anti-regime graffiti. It is quite possible that they government can yet regain control of the momentum and protest movement. Syria lacks an organized internal leadership that can plan and administer continued demonstrations. There is a sophisticated, even if small, leadership abroad which could coordinate events on Facebook from afar.
Dera’a Protesters calling for freedom – “Thousands of people attending the funerals of Akram al-Jawabra and Hussam Abdelwali Ayash were surrounded by large numbers of security men who fired tear gas at the mourners to disperse them”” the BBC and Reuters report.
(Reuters) – Thousands of mourners called on Saturday for “revolution” at the funeral of protesters killed by Syrian security forces, in the boldest challenge to Syria’s rulers since uprisings began sweeping the Arab world.
Security forces responded by firing tear gas to disperse crowds in Deraa, a region south of the capital where at least 10,000 people demonstrated on Saturday at the funeral of two protesters, among at least four who were killed on Friday.
“Revolution, revolution. Rise up Hauran,” chanted the mourners in Deraa, administrative capital of the Hauran plateau, as they marched behind the simple wooden coffins of Wissam Ayyash and Mahmoud al-Jawabra.
“God, Syria, Freedom. Whoever kills his own people is a traitor,” they said. Some of the mourners left a mosque and headed for the center to protest.
The two were killed when security forces opened fire on Friday on civilians taking part in a peaceful protest demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption in Syria, which has been ruled under emergency laws by President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party for nearly half a century.
A third man killed on Friday, Ayhem al-Hariri, was buried in a village near Deraa earlier on Saturday. A fourth protester, Adnan Akrad, died on Saturday from his wounds.
Deraa was less tense by late afternoon, with security forces using less force after a meeting at the main Omari mosque between the authorities and prominent figures in the city.
An activist who was at the meeting said officials were presented with a list of demands, most importantly for the release of political prisoners. Among them were 15 schoolchildren arrested in Deraa this month after writing slogans on walls, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that swept their autocratic leaders from power.
The list demands the dismantling of secret police headquarters in Deraa, dismissal of the governor, a public trial for those responsible for the killings, and scrapping of regulations requiring permission from the secret police to sell and buy property.
“If they do not respond the protests will only escalate,” the activist told Reuters.
An official statement said the interior ministry had formed a committee to investigate the “regrettable events” in Deraa.
The city is home to thousands of displaced people from eastern Syria, where up to a million people have left their homes because of a water crisis over the past six years. Experts say state mismanagement of resources has worsened the crisis.
The Hauran region, once a bread basket, has also been affected by diminishing water levels, with yields falling by a quarter in Deraa last year.
ARRESTS OF CHILDREN FUEL RESENTMENT
Protests against Syria’s ruling elite, inspired by revolts in the Arab world, have gathered momentum this week after a silent protest in Damascus by 150 people demanding the release of thousands of political prisoners…. In a move seen as an attempt to address the discontent, Assad issued a decree on Saturday shortening mandatory army conscription from 21 months to 18 months.
The long conscription period has generated discontent, especially among youth who resent state tactics to bring them into service, such as random ID checking, and the withholding of food aid from families whose members escape conscription.
Has the wave of popular revolts rocking the Arab world finally reached Syria, one of the region’s most policed states, a country its young president boasted was “immune” from calls for freedom, democracy and accountable government? Or were the …
Egypt crowd attack ElBaradei at voting station – They call him an “American agent.” He is unable to vote.
PBS report on Syria today – PBS NewsHour
Syria News reports that the Syrian government has declared it will carry out a transparent investigation of the police in Deraa and the killings, promising to punish those guilty of wrongdoing.
تعتزم السلطات السورية فتح تحقيق لمعاقبة المسؤولين قبل المحرضين الذين تم توجيههم من جهات خارجية عن قتل ضحايا خلال تجمع شهدته مدينة درعا يوم الجمعة.
وقالت قناة الإخبارية السورية يوم السبت إن “السلطات السورية ستقوم بتحقيق شفاف لمعاقبة المسؤولين عن قتل الضحايا، والتخريب الذي حصل في درعا مهما علت رتبهم ومناصبهم قبل المحرضين الذين تم توجيههم من جهات خارجية”.
ويأتي ذلك عقب سقوط ضحايا خلال تجمع عدد من المواطنين في مدينة درعا البلد بالقرب من الجامع العمري بعد ظهر اليوم الجمعة حيث استغل بعض المندسين هذا الموقف وعمدوا إلى إحداث الفوضى والشغب ملحقين أضراراً بالممتلكات العامة والخاصة, وذلك بحسب وكالة الأنباء السورية الرسمية (سانا).
كما شهدت مدينة درعا تحطيم وحرق عدد من السيارات والمحلات العامة ما استدعى تدخل عناصر حفظ الأمن حرصا على سلامة المواطنين والممتلكات فاعتدى عليهم مثيرو الشغب ثم تفرقوا.
وشهدت مدينة بانياس في محافظة طرطوس يوم الجمعة تجمعا للعشرات رافعين شعارات بضرورة إلغاء التعليم المختلط وإعادة المنقبات إلى المدارس بعد فصلهم، وفتح ثانوية شرعية في بانياس.
وكانت دمشق قد شهدت الاسبوع الماضي تجمع محدود لمواطنين يوم الثلاثاء في سوق الحميدية ، فيما تجمع العشرات أمام مبنى وزارة الداخلية بساحة المرجة في دمشق يوم الأربعاء مطالبين بالإفراج عن سجناء قال المجتمعون بانهم “معتقلي رأي”.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested that outside powers hoped their intervention would be enough to turn the tide against Gaddafi and allow Libyans to force him out.
“It is our belief that if Mr. Gaddafi loses the capacity to enforce his will through vastly superior armed forces, he simply will not be able to sustain his grip on the country.”