News Round Up (22 May 2011)

48% of syria’s population is under age of 19 (table 11) – Almost half the Syrian population is high school age or younger.
Interview with Joshua Landis conducted by Scott Harris, here. Historical background to the present conflict.
One of the underlying causes for conflict in Syrian society is the enormous power held by al-Assad and others in his minority Alawite religious community – a branch of Shiite Islam, comprising only 12 percent of the population. The 74 percent of the Sunni Muslim majority in Syria complain bitterly of deep-rooted discrimination. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris Spoke with Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and editor of the online newsletter Syria Comment. Landis discusses the religious divisions in Syria which present a major obstacle to ending the violence and negotiating political and economic reforms.
Elias Muhanna and Camille Otrakji debate on Bloggingheads about the situation in Syria:

From the streets of Syria, a British student reports on the propaganda campaign waged by the government to convince people that all is OK and that the West is to blame—and it’s working.

Tribal Justice Blamed for Deaths of 120 Syrian police and soldiers
by Phil Sands in The National, May 17, 2011

In the two months since an anti-government uprising began in Syria, more than 120 police officers and soldiers have been killed, authorities say.

If that number is correct, then the Syrian government has lost as many members of its security forces since March as the US military has lost in Afghanistan since the start of the year – 127 killed in action – and more than the British army has lost in any single year during the decade-long Afghan war.

Government officials argue that the scale of the violence is clear evidence that Syria is facing an insurgency by Islamist terrorists.

Instead, the reality may be far more mundane – especially in the tribal regions of the country where many of the attacks against government forces appear to have taken place.

Rather than a conspiracy of Islamist fundamentalists supplied with weapons and cash by Syria’s enemies, tribe members and other residents of these areas say many of those shooting at the security services are motivated by traditions of tribal justice and dignity, self-defence, a sense of powerlessness and years of pent-up anger and frustration.

For all its hallmarks as a modern secular state, Syria remains a complex mosaic of tribes, sects and powerful extended families. Loyalty to clan often supersedes allegiance to country and tribal justice regularly supplants civil law.

Rural Syria, where this hierarchy of loyalties is most prevalent, is home to most of the country’s 22 million people. Nevertheless, large-scale migration means tribal influences have reached into the teeming working-class suburbs of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and other major cities.

This clash of tribal identity with state authority is woven into the violence that has swept the country since protests began two months ago this week. The absence of any credible prosecution of those responsible for excessive violence against unarmed protesters has given way to more traditional ways of holding people to account.

“If you kill someone from a tribe and the government doesn’t deliver justice, then the tribe will see justice is done in its own way, which means blood-for-blood,” a member of one of Syria’s major clans said.

“My people believe in revenge. If one of the tribe is shot by a member of the security services and the killer is not properly punished by the government, then another security man will be killed to settle the score. It’s simple: an eye for an eye.”

That reaction to what many viewed as official impunity took root on March 18 during the first rally in Deraa, the crucible of the uprising, when four people were shot dead as they demanded the release of 15 local schoolchildren who had been arrested and abused by the security forces for writing political graffiti on a wall.

The powerful tribal families in the southern Houran region, which has Deraa as its capital, asked the authorities to discipline security personnel involved in killings, particularly the senior officers who gave orders to open fire on unarmed protesters during the first demonstration.

Seeking to Disrupt Protesters, Syria Cracks Down on Social Media
By JENNIFER PRESTON, May 22, 2011, New York Times

The Syrian government is cracking down on protesters’ use of social media and the Internet to promote their rebellion just three months after allowing citizens to have open access to Facebook and YouTube, according to Syrian activists and digital privacy experts.

Security officials are moving on multiple fronts — demanding dissidents turn over their Facebook passwords and switching off the 3G mobile network at times, sharply limiting the ability of dissidents to upload videos of protests to YouTube, according to several activists in Syria. And supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, are using the same tools to try to discredit dissidents. ….

There are about 580,000 Facebook users in Syria, a 105 percent increase since the government lifted its four-year ban on Feb. 9, according to Fadi Salem, director of the Governance and Innovation Program at the Dubai School of Government.

Though Syrian officials sought to portray the decision as a sign of openness, human right advocates warned that the government could use Facebook to closely monitor regime criticism and ferret out dissidents as nearby countries erupted in revolt.

A man in his 20s living in Syria said that the police demanded his Facebook password late last month after arresting him where he worked and taking his laptop. “I told him, at first, I didn’t have a Facebook account, but he told me, after he punched me in the face, that he knew I had one because they were watching my ‘bad comments’ on it,” he said. “I knew then that they were monitoring me.”…

For now, activists in Syria said they would not know whether using Facebook had helped or hurt them until the revolt came to an end…. “It may be effective if the regime that you are campaigning against is insufficiently ruthless or powerful. If you win quickly, Facebook is the right tool to use. If not, it becomes much more dangerous.”

Wikileaks: US Cable: “Saudi Arabia & UAE sent $100 Million annually to fund ‘Islamic extremists'” Cable referenced: # 178082.

KARACHI: A US official in a cable sent to the State Department stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” The cable sent in November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur… …

Brotherhood Raises Syria Profile
Islamist Group Tries to Organize Opposition to Assad Regime, as Protests Waver

Syrian families fleeing violence in their country arrived in Wadi Khaled, in northern Lebanon, near the Syrian border Monday.

The exiled Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, the only antiretime group to ever seriously challenge the Assad government, said it was trying to take a larger role in organizing the disparate opposition as Syria’s street protests appear to wane.

The move from the banned and exiled group could capitalize on an apparent deadlock between protesters and President Bashar al-Assad’s government, as opposition activists fail to coalesce into a solid front.

Despite years of shifting alliances and a recent internal struggle for leadership, the Syria Brotherhood’s role as one of the oldest organized antigovernment movements could prove effective amid the power void of Syria’s opposition.

Israel fortifies borders and Jerusalem after protests on Nakba Day, killing 15. Video courtesy of Reuters.

“We have a desire to coordinate the position of the opposition,” said Zuhair Salim, a spokesman for Syria’s Brotherhood based in London, which is loosely affiliated with other Arab Muslim Brotherhood movements. “We are supporters, and not creators. The voice of the street is a spokesperson for itself.”

His comments reflect a cautious position calibrated to avoid claiming leadership of a protest movement Mr. Assad’s government has characterized as run by armed, extremist Islamist groups. The Brotherhood poses a particular problem for some of the antiregime activists trying to forge secular coalitions more in line with the street movement.

Mr. Salim has become increasingly vocal since the Brotherhood in late April backed the protest movement, appearing on Arabic-language television programs to support what the group has called a “peaceful, popular intifada,” or resistance…….

….Last summer, Muhammad Riad al-Shakfa succeeded Ali Bayanouni as the Syrian Brotherhood’s leader, raising concerns that gains made under Mr. Bayanouni to shift the movement to the center would be reversed. The party under Mr. Shakfa, seen as taking a harder line, found itself “sitting on the sidelines of history” as the Arab Spring swept into Syria, one opposition member described. “It found a chance to reinvent itself in the street movement,” the person said.Mr. Shafka has gathered a group of younger Turkey-based activists that are now trying to help activists inside Syria to coordinate, people close to the party said.

Mr. Salim said the group has engaged in talks with a group of activists—minus a handful of figures who the Brotherhood had broke alliances with in the past— who have tried, but failed, for two months to form a broad enough coalition to represent Syria’s opposition abroad.

“Our efforts are ongoing and we hope that in no more than a month you will hear of an organized front,” he said.

The Brotherhood continues to communicate, indirectly, with members of its earlier alliance, the Damascus Declaration, including veteran dissident Michel Kilo, who met with Assad advisor, Bouthaina Shaaban, last week. But Syria’s opposition has rejected outreach attempts by the government, calling any initiative including the “national dialogue,” a nonstarter before tanks withdraw from the street and security forces stop shooting protesters.

The Brotherhood would consider dialogue with the Assad government, under certain conditions, if the violence against protesters were to stop, Mr. Salim said.

Syria’s protests have been largely free of Islamist overtones. Protesters gather in public squares outside of mosques on Fridays, the day of the Islamic prayer. But over recent years, Islam has grown its profile in Syrian society, even under Mr. Assad’s staunchly secular rule. Mr. Salim said the group is in touch with religious leaders, mosque imams, and their students in and outside Syria.

“Religion is the most important aspect in my life,” said one conservative, Sunni landowner in Damascus. “But we do not like Salafism—we all want to live in a moderate community in peace,” he said, addressing the government line that the hard-line Islamist movement has stoked the protests.

….Failed alliances, including abandoning in 2009 a coalition with former vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam after he turned against the regime and brief overtures to the regime itself cast doubt over the Brotherhood’s ability to command leadership of even the anti-regime movement abroad.

“Those 30 years destroyed their organization, and they lost their legitimacy because they changed positions so much without explanation over the past five years,” said Burhan Ghalioun, an opposition member who is a scholar of contemporary oriental studies at the Sorbonne in Paris.

But the longer the protesters’ stalemate with tanks and troops stretches out, the more appealing the group’s organizational advantage will likely appear.

“People on the street are getting tired, they’re running out of resources, and they don’t have that much experience,” said one protest coordinator outside Syria. “They recognize, and we have to recognize, that the Brothers are better organized and better funded.”

The Brotherhood, in the meantime, will continue to walk a cautious line. “The plan for now is, we say we are in cohesion with the protesters, and that means we will monitor the movement of the Syrian street,” Mr. Salim said. “We’re not in a position to approach them with something that they can’t take on, and yet we can’t abandon them so they feel they’re on their own.”

Syria ‘offended’ by Turkish PM’s statement, envoy says

….The envoy suggested that the upcoming elections in Turkey might have impacted Turkey’s attitude on the uprisings in Syria, which turned from support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at first to criticism of the regime’s bloody crackdown on protesters.

“We understand there has been a change [in Turkey’s approach to the Syrian turmoil] mainly for some local considerations. The elections are a key factor and it is putting everybody in an awkward position,” he said…..

….Kabalan said.

“For us, the Muslim Brotherhood is like the PKK is for Turkey,” he said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. “The Muslim Brotherhood has been attacking the army. You have to understand that sensitivity.”

Kabalan said the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood had been engaged in dialogue with the Syrian government, but added that he was talking about the military wing of the group.

Independent: Damascus souk yearns for tourists

Hani Abou al-Nasser rolls his eyes, shrugs and lets out a worried sigh as he gestures toward his empty store in the old souk of Damascus. “I haven’t made a penny in four days,” laments the 64-year-old. “There is no work. The tourists are gone.” His …

Growing Calls For Assad Dialogue With Syrian Protesters 2011-05-22, WASHINGTON (AFP)–

Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday to reach out to protesters amid a brutal crackdown by the Syrian government that has killed at least 900 people.  His call was echoed by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, an Egyptian presidential candidate, who called on Assad to accelerate socioeconomic and political reforms, as well as provide more freedoms and set new elections.  “To turn things around and bring calm and stability, dialogue, national reconciliation, outreach is the only way that you can do so,” Abdullah II told ABC television’s “This Week” in noting that Assad has yet to bring all parties to the table to reach a peaceful solution.  “I think Bashar needs to reach out to the people and get people around the table,” the Jordanian monarch added, noting his own father, the late King Hussein, had advised him to “keep as close to the people as possible.”  Western-educated Assad, once seen as a reformist, should “accelerate, do the reform, quickly, quickly,” Moussa warned……

‘Damascus Hailstorm’ by Layla

There were many heated discussions flying about in Syria during my recent visit there. One expressed the most vehement support of the President and the bloody crackdown on the perceived ‘ignorant’ and ‘treacherous’ protestors. Whilst not a universally held view, it appears to be held by much of the country’s moneyed and empowered.

As is always the case in a potential uprising, it quickly becomes a fight for power and those for and against the current rules become demarcated. Recent demands for political freedom from a regime that has wrapped itself like tree around the spine of the country for forty years have been resolutely resisted. This is largely because the Baathist trunk carries many branches on which sit the army, an enormous security apparatus, the rich elite, and the ruling Assad family. This tree does not intend to lose any leaves this spring.

As the situation develops ominously and with increasing isolationism, everyone is watching and waiting to see if Syria will witness a mass uprising or mass repression. The course of events thus far suggests further oppression looms.

However, in marked contrast to the other towns and cities, the centre of the capital, Damascus, remains relatively calm and unaffected. After one particularly bloody day with protestors there were rumours of a large Damascus protest but instead that day witnessed a torrent of hailstones the size of cherries gushing out of the skies. Perhaps this ‘Damascus Hailstorm’ foreshadowed more foreboding prospects than the sought-after ‘Damascus Spring’.

Syria’s state TV continues to report of ‘armed gangs’ and ‘infiltrators’ using violence against security forces. Though wrought with the stench of propaganda, a surprising number of Syrians believe what they hear. This, as it was undoubtedly intended to, has weakened support for protesters, viewed by some with anger or mistrust.

Additionally, some middle class moderates say that Syrian society is not ready for big change and that there is no credible and strong alternative to the current President. Syria is surrounded by instability and threat – intransigent Israel; post-war Iraq; factitious Lebanon, and the American ‘enemy’ Iran. Significant political reform would be both a blessing and a curse for many on the international stage, but I believe it has the even greater possibility of bettering Syria if the right players got behind it.

In addition, Syria’s middle-classes however do not believe in the possibility of an alternative reality. Too often have I heard the pro-regime defence of “we are different here”, “our mentality is too backward to absorb democracy” and “we do not understand freedom”. While the experience of neighbouring Iraq and its process of ‘democratisation’ are enough to worry Syrians, the irony is that a lot of these same doubters are examples of the educated, travelled and well-read Syrians the country needs to be able to take it into a more developed and universally positive era. However, they too need a coherent, planned and safe rallying point.

These ‘moderates’ may feel sympathetic towards the protestors but they are not yet willing to wholeheartedly take to the pages or the streets with their views.  They have worked long and hard at adapting themselves to the regime’s mechanics and are not suffering enough as a result of its existence to risk being shot of imprisoned for the sake of a vague notion of political freedom.

Syria’s is a society that has been born and raised in fear of both the known and the unknown. Consequently, Syria’s wealthier merchants would have to see their interests really hit hard before deciding to join the fray and risk what it entails. This may happen as a result of the impending EU and US sanctions. Conversely, foreign interference may actually affirm the regime’s accusation of Western intransigence and bolster its internal support.

This is why political and social discourse in Syria right now is so fundamentally necessary and yet gravely lacking. Such discourse needs to present and analyse the concepts of individual transparency, responsibility, accountability and basic human rights and to show how these concepts can ultimately lead to a better society for all.

Just because some Syrians have resigned themselves to paying their way out of trouble or into business does not absolve them from the need to be involved. Better it be a willing and thoughtful act now than a desperate one later. It would be more challenging yet far more progressive to believe in Syria as a country that can be prosperously governed in a non-dogmatic and non-authoritarian way.

Hind Aboud Kabawat – Peaceful change to save Syria

Burning HIzbullah’s flag in Homs yesterday – youtube increasing signs of the growing sectarian lines that are being drawn. This is probably inevitable. Everyone is being forced to take sides. As we have seen elsewhere in the region, the fastest avenue to mobilization of the masses is through the use of sectarian symbols. The blowing up of the Hassan al-Askari mosque in Iraq by Sunni extremists in February 2006 was the final trigger to outright sectarian war. Whether something similar will happen in Syria, one cannot say. But why burn Hizbullah’s flag in Homs?

Comments (227)

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201. AIG said:

WD and others,

The question is not why I am interested in freedom of speech in Syria. The question is why YOU are not. What are you afraid of if not the truth? If you are so sure that the protesters are lying why are you and the regime so afraid of freedom of speech?

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May 24th, 2011, 1:15 pm


202. JAD said:

Dear Norman,
The Baath party is already dead, it doesn’t have any real power on anything to do the changes people are asking for.

Regarding the changes, I agree with Nour, changes, especially political ones must be announced and start immediately and the parliament must resume its work instead of being in ‘vacation’ it’s ridiculous to close the parliament when it’s needed the most.

I also agree with you that only Syrians should have the upper hand in any of the Syrian companies.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:17 pm


203. why-discuss said:

Nour, Alex

Do you really believe that announcing reforms now will get a positive result? I tend to think that this will be seen as yielding to the EU and US sanctions and threats and could very well embolden even more the hardliners.
My view is that Bashar should announce a referendum about his leadership and possibly basic reforms. He should ask for international observers (Turkey, or UN) to legitimize it.
The announcement cannot have a negative effect, it could stop the protests as opposition will campaign to get the votes they wish for.
The outcome of the referendum will be decisive. If Bashar gets the OK, and I am sure he will, then he can claim to have the majority and announce any other reforms.

If he does not get the vote, then he will announce his withdrawal and pass on the power to the army or an interim governemnt

That’s what the Syrian needs to do now: A vote of confidence or distrust to Bashar Al Assad, I don’t see any other way out.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:21 pm


204. Atheist Syrian said:

@vlad the Syrian
للكاتب “ابي حسن”

هويتي..من أكون؟..فى الطائفة والاثنية السوريتين

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May 24th, 2011, 1:26 pm


205. norman said:


Don’t you think that any referendum that president Assad wins will be called a fabrication by the West and the opposition, he needs party laws and associate his reform by majority for his party ,

The death of the Baath party is highly exaggerated.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:31 pm


206. Nour said:


There’s going to come a time when reforms are going to have to be announced. Syria will always be under US/EU pressure, so do we just refrain from reforming the system because we are worried that it will look like we succumbed to outside pressure? The Syrian people know this is not the case and they will welcome these reforms with open arms and open hearts. President Bashar al Assad’s popularity will increase dramatically as he will be seen as the leader who led a transformative government in Syria.

Regarding your proposed solution, I don’t think it is something that is feasible at this point in time. Bashar al Assad is the only person, at the moment, that can effectively confront certain regime elements and impose changes they don’t like. If he allows himself to step down or give any signal that he is weak, the challenging of these regime elements will become much more difficult. If he passes power to an “interim government” who do you think will control this government? This is bound to make the situation in Syria much worse. I think the best course of action is for President Assad to take a courageous stance and begin to implement serious reforms that will eventually transform the state into one where all the people feel they have a stake in it. Because the way the regime functions now, over 90% of the people feel that they have no role in the political process of the country.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:33 pm


207. Nour said:


I believe Jad means that the Baath Party as a party doesn’t really rule or have a say. The regime is made up of a few people who make all decisions that even the Baath Party has no control over.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:35 pm


208. why-discuss said:


The only Arab country where there is freedom of speech is Lebanon, and the country is in a mess. The press have been mostly used to insult, accuse and create more tensions that it solved.
The freedom of press in developing countries may give the illusion of democracy but in view of how polluted the press is, it is no guarantee of progress.
The press in the US has triggered wars like Iraq because of its manipulation by money and politics.
Read this. Do you think press is free in the US?
“In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.
The only free press is blogs on Internet and this is available in Syria.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:35 pm


209. JAD said:

🙂 I’m very sorry to be the one to give you the bad news of the death of the Baath party, it happened while ago, I understand your feeling, you are in the denial phase, but soon enough with my propaganda campaign you will accept reality 😉

Nour, Thank you for explaining my point to my dear friend Norman.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:39 pm


210. Sisyphus said:

@203 why-discuss

A referendum seems like a good idea to me. We need something dramatic to break this downward spiral.

It’s good for the reason that you mentioned and also because he’s got to stamp his authority on the hard-liners around him. He’ll never be able to do that the way his dad did. But he can do it in a way that his dad never could. He can deliver a genuine public mandate for change, under his leadership. I believe he still has time but he has to act quickly and express himself in very clear terms.

In the previous two speeches, he gave advice to the representatives and the cabinet. His third speech must be about what he will change, in his capacity as president of the republic. No more advice to anyone. Time to make history.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:40 pm


211. AIG said:


Wow, you are a dictator at heart. You are bold enough to argue that freedom of speech and the press is bad. Unbelievable.

It is quite simple. Without freedom of speech and the press, there is no accountable government. Full stop.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:53 pm


212. JAD said:

“We need something dramatic to break this downward spiral.”
The only dramatic act that can change this situation even without any reforms at all is to bring to justice the main two figures Syrians hate the most at the moment and the oppositions are using them extensively in their propaganda to motivate people, we all know who those two men are.
Regardless if they are innocent or not, the amount of hatred they have form the Syrians in the streets are too high to avoid, they are already damaged goods and the survivor of the regime depends on taking them out of the picture soon.
The question to ask is the regime is willing to do such sacrifice as the Late president Hafez did before or not?


China after Russia to stand against any intervention in Syria by the international community.

ونقلت وكالة الأنباء الصينية شينخوا عن المتحدثة باسم وزارة الخارجية الصينية جيانغ يوي قولها في مؤتمر صحفي دوري إن الصين تعارض التدخل الخارجي في الشؤون الداخلية لسورية وتتوقع من المجتمع الدولي لعب دور بناء في هذا الخصوص.
وأضافت المتحدثة أن مستقبل سورية يقرره شعبها وحده.

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May 24th, 2011, 1:54 pm


213. why-discuss said:

Norman, Nour

If the “referendum and vote of confidence” is supervised by the Turkey and/or South Africa , there will be no constestation.

I strongly believe that any announced reforms now will be received with claims that Bashar is announcing this just to save his skin and that they will never be implemented.
What was the result of the cancellation of the emergency law? And that was at a time where the opposition had not yet asked for Bashar’s head.

The reforms are not they key, confidence in Bashar is the key.
If the Syrians still believe he will lead the reforms, the reforms will happen in due time. If they don’t believe he can, than announcement of any reform will sound empty and protests will continue.

The Syrians must have a way to give/refuse Bashar a vote of confidence.
Huge demonstrations of support to Bashar will be labeled ‘arranged by the government’. How do you think this can be done other than by a referendum or any other valid form of direct expression from the Syrians?
The referendum could be announced in such a way that Syrians are asked to vote for some basic reforms. By doing so, they would indirectly legitimize Bashar Al Assad and give him the green light to implement them.

A good example is the ‘canceled’ authorized demonstration. The hardliners knew that if they accept this authorized demonstration it meant that they are giving legitimacy to the government.
This is why they have canceled it. It is clear they refuse any move that would legitimize the authority thy want to overthrow. The official announcement of a referendum with observers from Turkey and/or South Africa may leave no choice to the opposition then to accept it and its outcome, otherwise they would be perceived as anarchists.
The question is : Will Bashar al Assad puts his pride aside to call for external observers?

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May 24th, 2011, 2:03 pm


214. JAD said:

الحكومة تقرر تخفض سعر ليتر مادة المازوت من “20 ليرة إلى 15 ليرة ”

أصدرت رئاسة مجلس الوزراء، يوم الثلاثاء، قرارا بتخفيض سعر ليتر مادة المازوت من (20 ليرة سورية) إلى (15 ليرة سورية)، وذلك بعد قيامها بتخفيض سعره في العام 2009 من (25 ليرة) إلى (20 ليرة).

وكانت وزارة المالية كشفت، في شهر نيسان الماضي، عن إمكانية تخفيض سعر ليتر المازوت بمقدار 5 ليرات سورية وما يمكن أن ينتج عن هذا الأمر على جميع مناحي الحياة، مؤكدة على وجود عدة سيناريوهات للإصلاح ستصب جميعها في مصلحة المواطن وتلبية احتياجاته الأساسية.

وتقوم الحكومة السورية بتوزيع دعم على مادة المازوت سنويا, وذلك بعد قيامها برفع سعر اللتر منه من 7 ليرات إلى 25 ليرة في أيار عام 2008, ثم قامت بتخفيضه عام 2009 إلى 20 ليرة، الأمر الذي أدى إلى انخفاض استهلاك هذه المادة في العديد من القطاعات وعلى رأسها المنزلي والزراعي.

وصدر في الفترة الأخيرة العديد من القرارات والمراسيم التي تضمنت عددا من التغييرات، التي تصب في خانة القرارات، التي صدرت على القيادة القطرية والخطة التي أعلن عنها الرئيس بشار الأسد في خطابه الأخير مؤخرا في استئناف وتفعيل عملية الإصلاح في سورية.

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May 24th, 2011, 2:04 pm


215. why-discuss said:


\” is to bring to justice the main two figures Syrians hate the most\”

Any such moves will be labeled: \”Bashar al Assad is designating two scapegoats to save his head\”
As long as Bashar al Assad does not get back the confidence not only of the Syrians but of the international community, any announcement will be rejected as mere manipulation.

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May 24th, 2011, 2:43 pm


216. norman said:


I am willing to take a chance that the Baath party might lose and a new government without the control of the Baath party comes to Syria , but i am not willing to take a chance with the president or the army, monitors can be used for the parliamentary elections .

We ca not leave Syria leaderless .

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May 24th, 2011, 2:45 pm


217. Mina said:

Only the tea party will benefit of this demonstration of force by Israel’s dictator (elected by elderlies carrying 2 passports and an extra 1 million Russians brought in the last 15 years to make the balance in favour of the right wing parties). I quote a comment on Foreign policy:
“The grand Snake-oil salesman, Netanyahu, stood in front of his captive minions in Congress to deliver a litany of uncontested lies. It was a carnival of standing ovations under the watchful eyes of AIPAC’s agents, who carefully scanned the hall for any sign of dissenters. Not unlike Bin Laden, Netanyahu spoke at length on how his God commanded him to cannibalize Palestinian land, pushing six million Palestinians to refugee camps around the globe. And that God issued him Carte Blanche to steal 80% of Palestinian water on the West Bank to fill the Sparkling swimming pools of the Jewish settlers, who were trucked in from Brooklyn and Warsaw. He condemned Arab Dictators who brutalized there citizens, but no mention of the 2 Million Palestinians under the occupation boots of Israel for the last 43 years. No mention of the 15 unarmed Palestinians shot by Israel last week for daring to demand the right to return to their stolen homes. Netanyahu went on his uncontested lies, knowing darn well that no one in the American media will dare contest his deception.

At the end of the speech, and in shameful sign of the Israeli domination of our Congress, Netanyahu dragged out the entire leadership of Congress to a Kiss-and-Tell conference. The benevolent Minions, from Boehner to Pelosi, Reid to McConnell, took turn to pledge allegiance to Netanyahu and Israel, and thus, earning the blessing of AIPAC and the Zionists.

Netanyahu said that he will never return to pre-1967 borders, will never allow Palestinian refugees to go back home, will keep major Jewish settlements in the West bank, will keep Arab East Jerusalem annexed by Israel, and will keep permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, but beyond that he is willing to make painful concessions. Many in the Israeli Knesset would have disagreed with this hallucination, but the Israeli-Occupied US Congress gave it standing ovation.”

So they have a religious Brotherhood, they enjoy standing ovations (in what should simply be an ‘allied country’… doesn’t sound too democratic to me.)

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May 24th, 2011, 3:01 pm


218. why-discuss said:


If the Syrians don’t trust that Bashar al Assad can lead the country then he has lost his legitimacy and no reforms will be accepted and the country will move to a deeper crisis.
In view of possible void that you mention, I am totally sure that the majority of Syrians will vote in favor of Bashar. Then the international community will be obliged to recognize his democratic legitimacy. Thus not only his announcement of reforms will be heard and accepted but the opposition will not be able to call for his removal anymore.

This is a win win situation. He should take the chance.

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May 24th, 2011, 3:12 pm


219. why-discuss said:



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May 24th, 2011, 3:19 pm


220. norman said:


and what is your plan B if he does not win and tell all Syria BY , take care of yourselves .I am sick of you all for your lack of gratitude .

Syria will plunge in a civil war .

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May 24th, 2011, 3:58 pm


221. Abughassan said:

A vote to keep or remove Bashar is the last item on my personal wish list. I want to see all political prisoners free,corrupt officials and semi-officials brought to justice,the abolishment of article 8 and free parliamentary elections. When Syrians feel comfortable that their suffering and sacrifices did not go in vain,then we can talk about presidential elections. Challenging Asad now is the wrong thing to do,and I am one of those who did not approve of his appointment in 2000 and never supported the regime,but I see why he needs to stay as president until we are ready for a new president,I suggested a time frame for up to 2014 (the end of his third term). Some people may want him to run again,but I think he is ready to leave,and I agree.

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May 24th, 2011, 9:25 pm


222. ashley said:

*he not she for clinton lol!

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May 24th, 2011, 11:45 pm


223. ashley said:

BTW Please feel free to argue with me if im wrong I would really like to see both sides of the argument thank u =)

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May 24th, 2011, 11:46 pm


224. Jihad said:

To the British Student (?) on the streets of Syria: It is as if the UK government and different Western governments do not resort to “propaganda” and with lethal consequences as was shown to be in Iraq among other places!

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May 25th, 2011, 12:50 am


225. why-discuss said:

Abughassan, Norman

If Bashar does not indict his own family members who are corrupted, he will have no credibility. Can he do that?
He has to rebuild his credibility that was damaged by the deaths and by the sanction of the international community. That is not an easy task. One is asking for a vote of confidence from the Syrians. Yet there is an alternative: In Egypt and Tunisia, the hatred of the people were directed to Mobarak and Ben Ali personnaly and in second to the party.
In Syria it is the other way around.
So if Bashar announces the dismembering of the Baath party and the permission to have other parties competing, he may get the personal support he needs to lead the transition. Jumblatt has also said that the Baath party was paralyzed and needs to be overhauled.
I don’t know how easy is that, but it is a choice that may make the whole difference.

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May 25th, 2011, 8:26 am


226. norman said:

In the middle of a snow storm, it is hard to ask a man to change and get rid of his cloths even if they are dirty and junkie , it has to warm up and things improve to give him a courage to get rid of theses clothes.

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May 25th, 2011, 8:47 am


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