Posted by Joshua on Friday, June 10th, 2011
The number of Syrian refugees fleeing the country’s north into Turkey has surpassed 2,000 while reports suggest that as many as 30,000 Syrian troops are massed near the town of Jisr al-Shughour, whose 60,000 citizens have largely left en masse. The stories coming out of the refugees paint a grisly picture of soldiers refusing orders to shoot on unarmed people and being shot for insubordination. The Syria government insists that armed rebels killed the troops.
Syrian Refugees in Turkey
Reports from the town, (NYTimes) which remained without electricity, water and Internet access, were difficult to confirm. Rami Abdelrahman, a Syrian activist based in Britain, said that by late Friday morning all of his contacts in Jisr al-Shoughour and the surrounding area were “cut off.” Earlier in the day he spoke to residents there, who described a campaign of destruction against Jisr al-Shoughour and a cluster of nearby villages by the army. “They are burning fields all around,” he said.
Meanwhile, Russia appears likely to veto French and British efforts to table a Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s ongoing crackdown. (MidEast Channel FP) This Friday is named the “Friday of the Tribes” in an effort to bring along the Arab tribes, many leaders of which turned up at the Antalya opposition meeting last week.
This site – named Revolution Intelligence – is a worrying new phenomenon. It has a military theme and allows anonymous writers to inform on people they believe to be government informers or regime loyalists. It is not clear whether it is designed to encourage retribution or assassination, but I suppose it could. Just another indication of the darkening clouds that are gathering for Syria. A Lebanese Christian friend brought this site to my attention and remarked:
We’re clearly heading towards a kind of “civil war” there…. And the lists of that sort are a good fuel for such a conflict, believe an old Lebanese!! 😉 (seriously; the people named in these lists will dearly defend their skin, no?!; and besides, when you open the door to deletion, anyone can accuse anyone, his neighbor with whom he had a quarrel for a car parking, his doorman who did not wash the ca properly, the shopkeeper whom he suspects of looking at his wife… etc etc… J, and society becomes unlivable!!…). More than this, this site depicts a “mindset” in the opposition; a kind of “3aql amni” that resembles a lot the “3aql amni wa mukhabarati” that we find in the regime’s circles..; Strange and fascinating mimetism… it augurs of the worse once these guys takes power….
But you also touch a good point: I heard Haytham Mannah saying today “we don’t want any foreign interference besides a moral support; physically, we are capable of putting this regime down, with time and courage, and we have to if we want to stay free after”; nicely put. BUT… how without “troops”? And this is where tricks such as this kind of listing will play: people will begin turning against each other, on micro-levels, suspicion inside the ruling circles will grow, defiance also, and cracks will begin?
But I guess there’s more: if you noticed, Antalya was heavily attended by (among others) tribal leaders from the “3ashayer”; these are exactly the people who have the manpower to fight!! And these have been first antagonized by the Deraa wound, and now in Rastan, Hassakeh,Raqqa, and elsewhere… if they join in mass, along with Brothers that seem to near the point of taking arms, the “revolution army” is there… is it a coincidence that tomorrow has been labeled “Jom3at el-3asha’er”???!!….
…For the peace rejectionist government of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the survival of an embattled, desperate, and thoroughly discredited Assad regime apparently hits that Goldilocks sweet spot — just the right outcome. Is this a calculation that still makes sense for Israel after Sunday’s clashes on the Golan?
Syria to hold advisory meeting with opposition in 10 days: offic 2011-06-09 11:19:21.503 GMT
DAMASCUS, June 9 (Xinhua) — A Syrian official said an advisory meeting with the opposition and non-partisans is expected to be held in ten days, the Syrian daily al-Watan reported Thursday.
According to the unnamed source, the meeting will be a preparatory step towards a comprehensive national dialogue that sets the headlines of Syria’s political and economic future.
“The meeting is open for anyone who likes to take part in, on condition of having no foreign agenda,” the source was quoted by al-Watan as saying.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has nominated Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa and his assistant Mohammad Nasief, Vice-President for Cultural Affairs Najah al-Attar and Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban to take part in the dialogue with Syrian opposition figures inside Syria in order to reach a political solution to the country’s crisis.
The opposition, inside Syria, insists the killing of protesters must end, political prisoners be released and the right of expression and demonstration be guaranteed before any dialogue could begin.
“The meeting must aim at saving Syria from the current crisis,” Michel Kilo, a prominent dissident told Xinhua via phone.
Kilo, one of the four activists meeting with Shaaban one month ago, said “this is a political crisis which must be tackled through political means,” adding that Shaaban told him the Syrian president had ordered troops not to fire on pro-reform demonstrators.
June 11 (The Economist) — A MONTH ago seasoned watchers of Syria reckoned that the regime’s ferocious crackdown would keep the lid on dissent, albeit with President Bashar Assad’s legitimacy badly impaired. Now the prevailing wisdom is changing. Rather than subside, the protests are spreading and intensifying. Having started in the south and spread to coastal cities such as Banias, they moved to Homs, Syria’s third-biggest city, and the surrounding central districts. More recently they have gripped Hama, the country’s fourth city, famed for its uprising in 1982, when 20,000 people may have been killed by the then president, Hafez Assad, the present incumbent’s father. After starting in the rural areas, the unrest has hit cities all over the country. And the death toll, well past 1,200, has begun to rise more sharply. On June 3rd, at least 70 people are reported to have been killed in Hama alone.
The first of two big questions is whether the revolt will get going in Damascus and Aleppo, the capital and Syria’s second city respectively, which have been relatively but by no means entirely quiet. The second big question is whether the security forces, on which the regime was founded when Assad père took over in 1970, will stay loyal. If the army’s middle and lower ranks, drawn mainly from the country’s Sunni majority, which comprises some 75% of the population, begin to turn against the senior ranks where the Alawite minority (10%, including the Assad family) predominates, the regime could begin to fall apart. The events of June 5th in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, near the north-western border with Turkey, suggest that this may be starting to happen…..
A syrian dissident says that it is because Erdogan is afraid Bashar will unleash on Turkey the kurdish PKK.(sic)
…..Hors de question également de parler avec les réfugiés qui viennent de franchir la frontière : ils sont immédiatement pris en charge par des unités de gendarmerie, qui dirigent les personnes valides vers le camp, les blessés vers des hôpitaux, où la consigne est de ne pas admettre la presse.
..”Le gouvernement turc ne veut pas trop parler de ce qui se passe ici parce qu’il a peur qu’Assad lâche sur la Turquie les rebelles kurdes du PKK (Parti des travailleurs du Kurdistan)”, avance un dissident syrien installé à Antakya, parlant sous couvert de l’anonymat.
Other refugees tell much the same story. A group of three unemployed men aged 19, 25 and 30 respectively: The oldest of the group said that the people were simply demanding better economic conditions. “We try only to get enough food to survive. Nothing else,” he said. “Most people have to steal to live. We only want a better life because we are hungry. “If the government provided us with jobs then we would have no problem with it.”
A French television network said Thursday it has filed a complaint with the Paris public prosecutor alleging identity theft and impersonation related to an interview it broadcast Tuesday with a woman the network identified as Ambassador Lamia …
First lady struggles to live up to promises
By Lina Saigol in London, Published: June 9 2011 20:00 | Last updated: June 9 2011
Last January, Asma al-Assad stood up in front of an audience in Damascus and called on the people of Syria to play a more active role in society.
Speaking at The First International Development Conference, Syria’s first lady said citizens needed to become more vocal about the country’s social and economic challenges and she pledged to give NGOs more freedom.
Eighteen months later, Syrians are more than heeding her calls as thousands of protesters take to the streets daily demanding civil liberties and freedom in the face of a brutal government crackdown that has seen more than 1,000 people killed in 12 weeks.
It is not the outcome Mrs Assad had hoped for when she married President Bashar al-Assad aged just 25 in 2001 with high hopes of empowering Syrians and helping rehabilitate the country after years of sanctions.
“Asma genuinely wanted to do good for her country, but she married into the mob,” one family friend says.
With a penchant for designer clothes, Mrs Assad seemed to represent the epitome of secular western-Arab fusion, leading many Syrians to believe she and her husband would be more tolerant than her late father-in-law’s totalitarian regime.
Soon after her marriage, Mrs Assad set up the country’s first ever rural development NGO and another body aimed at enhancing youth employability and entrepreneurial spirit.
Aided by the connections of her London-based father, Dr Fawaz Akhras, she also tried to internationalise these efforts, but they have suffered in recent weeks.
Dr Akhras, a founder and co-chairman of the British Syrian Society, helped her establish the Syrian Heritage Foundation, a British-registered charity set up last year to promote and advance education in the arts, culture and heritage of Syria and the Levant.
Off the Wall:
Posting this video, and discussing it and any attempt at analysis discredits a lot of the serious discussions we have been trying to have here, to which you have also contributed. I am confident that the truth about events in Latakia will emerge much sooner than it used to regardless of any attempt by any side to suppress the truth. At this stage, who is trying to instill sectarian violence in Syria is less important than stopping it dead in its place.
Let me be blunt, I am proud of the courage many Syrians are showing. It is relatively easy to participate in a demonstration for the president, being protected by agents, and even supplied, such as the case in Aleppo, with musical band and entertainment. But it takes courage to participate in a demonstration with political demands that challenges the status quo, known for being the one of the most repressive in the Arab world. I like courage, for it tells everyone that Syrians can no longer be pushed around or fooled. Courage is motivated primarily by recognition of ones rights, and belief in the justice of ones cause. Syrians asking for freedom, for the right to object and/or agree have both motivations, hence comes their courage. The numbers belie the official press that it is only very tiny groups of infiltrators.
However, Syrians, of all stripes, are likely to show even more of the same courage when confronted with an existential threat such as attempting to saw sectarian violence. And based on what I have been hearing, many in Latakia are confronting gangs and banding together despite of the stressful condition. Everyone I talked to is saying similar thing and they are willing to work with authorities to fight the gangs, no matter who these gangs are. Their priority again is to stop sectarian division dead in its place.
The video you are pushing here was initially presented to entice fear and to ferment hatred. Neither emotion induces courage. They only breed blood lust, and manufacture rage against innocent people. Is this what you want?, the death of courage and the victory of blood lust….? I hope not.
I agree that we are facing a possibility of civil war. But we should be clear why this is the case. The reason civil war is a possibility is that because we have one party who wants freedom and the other that is willing to create genocide to avoid them reaching their goal.
This hatred towards the Syrian Muslims will not solve your problem. Assad will be toppled sooner or latter. The Muslims are your eternal neighbors not the Assadian moukhabarat.
You have to face the reality as it is,the syrian muslims are the less extremist people in the world, especially those of Hama ,Aleppo,Homs,Latakkia and Jisr.
It shows how corrupt are the minds of islamophobic christians and pro shia theocracy people here. We have our own culture and history wich is different from that of Asad and his moukhabarat ,different from that the shia extremist minorities and different from the islamophobic sentiment of some christians.
You belong to Khomaini who got weapons from Israel secretly. And Ali Abass Shabiha were not Peshmerga from Iraq. It happens that many people you praise have long beards! But they belong to the theocracy of Qom.
The future is ours ! And you will taste the reality of Tadmor prison by yourself inshallah.
Of course once we finish with asad ,we will have something to settle with the SSNP and shia extremist theocrats in Lebanon.Their end is that of this regime.This is the reason of their support and the hatred that emanate from them here.
One shoe of an honest person worth all asad criminal gang and cronies. The future is ours !
I do not know how anybody can seriously deny the fact that Syrians have suffered a great deal due to oppression and corruption. The regime carries much of the blame but many others were part of the problem by being willful participants. the regime did not survive for 40 years just because it was brutal,it received a lot of help and made a lot of friends (sometimes for the wrong reasons).people who rightfully oppose the regime and the transformation of Syria into a Kingo-republic need to remember that Syria is still a third world country and read about how fragile and unstable Syrian governments were prior to 1970.
They also must keep in mind how Lebanon became a tribal circus and how Iraq was converted into a sectarian shooting range despite elections and the glamor of western democracy (compare that to the safety Syrians enjoyed for 40 years). We all know how oppressive and brutal Saddam Hussein’s regime was (ironically,it was still better than the shia-ruled majority government today).
France and England’s sudden affection with the well-being of the Syrian people is nauseating knowing their despicable colonial history and how they divided the Middle East and created Israel,yet,many Syrians feel “grateful” for the lip service they receive from those countries….
If it makes you feel any better I think Tadmor prison was one of the few good things Rif`at did for Syria. 30 years of peace and quiet. Why do you hate the SSNP exactly?
My friend was killed in Tudmor. He was 16 years old. He had nothing to do with the MB. All what the parents were told: SORRY wrong person. How many kids like my friend were in there by mistake? How many innocent people died in that massacre? I wonder how many people were tried and convicted by a legal court. Zero ….and And you call that a good thing?
Shami, You remind me of the person who said “I am against sectarianism and against the Shia.”
Nour, I said extremist shias whose religion tell them to hate and to curse. They are divinized here by those who hate the moderate and middle way Islam of the syrian people.
I have no hatred at all towards the moderate Shias that are able to be integrated into the mainstream body and to respect their environment.
This is also valid when i attack the islamophobic Christians. Does that mean i’m anti christian? Both of these haters exists and both of them cultivate hatred towards their environment. So they hold an historical problem with the dominant culture. This is their choice and i have to right to answer.
The sectarians are those who cultivate a marginal culture which is constucted as anti thesis of the dominant culture with a lot of pasions, irrationality and hatred. Those kind of people would be happy if 20 000 millions Syrians die.
Be sure ,that no normal people are capable of killing thousands in some days other than these marginal minorities who feel bad in their environment and who cultivate a centuries old hatred towards it.
This is a known fact …that doesn’t mean that the Syrian people will massacre 10000’s of innocents as did asad in Hama ,Aleppo and in all parts of Syria,this is impossible because our culture is different, this is the difference. They are the same kind of people of those who collaborated with the Mongols and Crusaders in the annhilation of the umma.
You don’t feel the suffering of the Syrian people ,because you belong to Asad, Khomaini, Zakaria Butros not to the common culture in Syria ,Palestine or Lebanon.
When you speak of a “dominant culture” in your country, then you are dripping with sectarianism. You seem to think anyone who is not “Sunni”, according to your own understanding of what “Sunni” is, is sectarian. You seem to think that the “Sunni” majority, which you believe is the sector that subscribes to your own view of society and life, should rule and impose their “culture” on the others because it is the “dominant” culture. This is nonsense. The Syrians are one people and one society. There is no “dominant” culture and “recessive” culture in Syria. Do you seriously believe that you have different social values, customs, and traditions than the rest of the Syrians? Do you seriously believe that you are of a different social psyche? If so, then Syria would suffer greatly if it were to fall into the hands of people who subscribe to this line of thinking.
Op-Ed Contributors: How Tyrants Endure
WHY do certain dictators survive while others fall? Throughout history, downtrodden citizens have tried to throw off the yoke of their oppressors, but revolutions, like those sweeping through the Arab world, are rare.
Despotic rulers stay in power by rewarding a small group of loyal supporters, often composed of key military officers, senior civil servants and family members or clansmen. A central responsibility of these loyalists is to suppress opposition to the regime. But they only carry out this messy, unpleasant task if they are well rewarded. Autocrats therefore need to ensure a continuing flow of benefits to their cronies.
If the dictator’s backers refuse to suppress mass uprisings or if they defect to a rival, then he is in real trouble. That is why successful autocrats reward their cronies first, and the people last. As long as their cronies are assured of reliable access to lavish benefits, protest will be severely suppressed. Once the masses suspect that crony loyalty is faltering, there is an opportunity for successful revolt. Three types of rulers are especially susceptible to desertion by their backers: new, decrepit and bankrupt leaders.
Newly ensconced dictators do not know where the money is or whose loyalty they can buy cheaply and effectively. Thus, during transitions, revolutionary entrepreneurs can seize the moment to topple a shaky new regime.
Even greater danger lurks for the aging autocrat whose cronies can no longer count on him to deliver the privileges and payments that ensure their support. They know he can’t pay them from beyond the grave. Decrepitude slackens loyalty, raising the prospects that security forces will sit on their hands rather than stop an uprising, giving the masses a genuine chance to revolt. This is what brought about the end of dictatorships in the Philippines, Zaire and Iran.
In addition to rumors of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s and Hosni Mubarak’s health concerns, Tunisia and Egypt suffered serious economic problems that kindled rebellion. Grain and fuel prices were on the rise, unemployment, particularly among the educated, was high and, in Egypt’s case, there had been a substantial decline in American aid (later reinstated by President Obama). Mr. Mubarak’s military backers, beneficiaries of that aid, worried that he was no longer a reliable source of revenue.
As money becomes scarce, leaders can’t pay their cronies, leaving no one to stop the people if they rebel. This is precisely what happened during the Russian and French revolutions and the collapse of communist rule in Eastern Europe — and why we predicted Mr. Mubarak’s fall in a presentation to investors last May.
Today’s threat to Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria can be seen in much the same light. With a projected 2011 deficit of approximately 7 percent of G.D.P., declining oil revenue and high unemployment among the young, Mr. Assad faces the perfect conditions for revolution. He may be cracking heads today, but we are confident that either he will eventually enact modest reforms or someone will step into his shoes and do so.
Contagion also plays an important part in revolutionary times. As people learn that leaders in nearby states can’t buy loyalty, they sense that they, too, may have an opportunity. But it does not automatically lead to copycat revolutions. In many nations, particularly the oil-rich Gulf States, either there has been no protest or protest has been met with violence. In Bahrain, for example, 60 percent of government revenue comes from the oil and gas sector; its leaders have therefore faced few risks in responding to protests with violent oppression.
This is because resource-rich autocrats have a reliable revenue stream available for rewarding cronies — and repression does not jeopardize this flow of cash. Natural resource wealth explains why the octogenarian Robert Mugabe shows no sign of stepping down in Zimbabwe and the oil-rich Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has given little hint of compromise from the start in Libya. As NATO bombs fall on Tripoli, however, Colonel Qaddafi is discovering that he needs to convince remaining loyalists that he can re-establish control over Libya’s oil riches or they, too, will turn on him. Sadly, if the rebels win, they are also likely to suppress freedom to ensure their control over oil wealth.
Regimes rich in natural resources or flush with foreign aid can readily suppress freedom of speech, a free press and, most important, the right to assemble. By contrast, resource-poor leaders can’t easily restrict popular mobilization without simultaneously making productive work so difficult that they cut off the tax revenues they need to buy loyalty.
Such leaders find themselves between a rock and a hard place and would be wise to liberalize preemptively. This is why we expect countries like Morocco and Syria to reform over the next few years even if their initial response to protest is repression. The same incentive for democratization exists in many countries that lack a natural reservoir of riches like China and Jordan — a bad omen for authoritarian rulers and good news for the world’s oppressed masses.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University and the authors of “The Dictator’s Handbook.”