Posted by Joshua on Friday, March 25th, 2011
I was just told that there has been shooting in Latakia. Syrian security forces have closed roads leading to Latakia city, Al-Jazeera reports. Some believe that it demonstrates a level of organization that suggests more than Facebook opposition. More killings in Deraa; ten people were killed today in clashes between protesters and security forces in the southern Syrian city of Sanamin, a high-ranking official told AFP news agency.
This note comes to me from a German friend in Aleppo, who knows Syria well. I will not use his name unless I get permission from him. He writes:
Hi Josh, Hope this finds you well. I’m in Aleppo this year, and as always enjoying your blogue, particularly in these heady times.
There was and still is a big demonstration in progress in Aleppo today (Friday 25th), pro-regime of course. There was apparently a small one of some 200-250 people early this morning, basically in support of the wage hikes announced yesterday, and around 12h30 a bigger one started brewing around Sa’d Allah al-Jabiri place, which just kept growing throughout the afternoon. Now (21h00 local) it’s spread out into the residential areas; Mogambo place is absolutely packed with people dancing and a band standing by. I’d send you pictures except that internet is so terribly slow that I can’t upload anything at home.
Obviously it’s orchestrated to some extent, the usual slogans, the usual underclass youths, the usual black leather clad security guys watching from a distance. But everyone we’ve talked to in the last weeks seems genuinely pro-regime, and now doubly so in light of the reform announcements. Guys I was watching Al Jazeera coverage of violence in Sanamayn today were only muttering “kazzab, kazzab” [lies, lies] under their breath.
The Kurds are of course a different matter; the Ashrafiyya and Shaykh Maqsud suburbs were completely sealed off last Monday (21st, Nawruz)–but that’s true every year and nothing special happened this year to my knowledge. Otherwise every one here that I’ve been able more or less to gauge is delighted over Egypt, Libya, you name it, but sees no parallel to Syria, invokes arguments you already know (Dera’a is being led by families with older antipathies to the Asads and allies of Khaddam), and wouldn’t remotely think of calling for Bashar’s removal.
On your blog today you mention reports of demonstrations in Aleppo, by which I understand are meant anti-regime demonstrations. Do you have more information on this, like where exactly they were? Certainly didn’t see anything and have trouble imagining it.
Anyway, it promises to remain interesting here. Talk to you again, all the best,….
The head of CET, a language program in Aleppo sent this today
Although the media has reported on protests in several cities today, our staff and contacts in Syria report that Aleppo and Damascus are calm. They have only witnessed small, peaceful, pro-government gatherings. Our Resident Director is in daily communication with all CET students during this spring break week. CET staff continue to advise students to stay away from any protests or public gatherings they encounter, and they are encouraging them to keep in close touch as the news develops.
At this point, we are optimistic that the program will continue as scheduled as Aleppo has remained safe and calm. We are also confident that our summer and fall programs will run as planned.
8:38pm: Anas al-Abda, the chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria, tells Al Jazeera that the pro-regime protests in Damascus are “most probably fabricated and organised by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad”.
8:15pm: Maamoun Al-Homsi,a leading Syrian opposition figure, called on the international community to intervene to stop “the massacres against civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime” in protests across Syria. “There are killed and wounded and those who are arrested in all the provinces,” he told Reuters by telephone from Canada, referring to protests that spread beyond the southern town of Daraa on Friday challenging Assad’s rule.
7:58pm: The United States calls on the Syrian government to stop violence against demonstrators and the arrests of human rights activists, White House spokesman Jay Carney says. We strongly condemn the Syrian government’s attempts to repress and intimidate demonstrators.
10:54 (EDT) DAMASCUS, March 25 (Reuters) – Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters in the town of Sanamein, killing 20 people, a witness told Al Jazeera television on Friday. “There are more than 20 martyrs …. they (security forces) opened fire haphazardly,” the witness said.
10:22 (EDT) DAMASCUS, March 25 (Reuters) – Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters in the town of Sanamein, killing 20 people, a witness told Al Jazeera television on Friday. “There are more than 20 martyrs …. they (security forces) opened fire haphazardly,” the witness said.
10:10 (EDT) DERAA,
Syria, March 25 (Reuters) – Protesters in the southern Syrian city of Deraa shouted slogans on Friday denouncing Maher al-Assad, brother of the Syrian president and head of the Republican Guard, a Reuters witness said. “Maher you coward. Send your troops to liberate the Golan,” thousands chanted as they headed to the main square in the city after the funeral of at least five protesters killed by security forces this week. Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967.
Maher al-Assad, who keeps a low profile, is the second most powerful man in the country after Bashar. Criticism of Syria’s ruling elite was taboo until protests erupted in Deraa a week ago demanding political freedom and an end to corruption. Up until now, protesters had directed their wrath mainly at Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Bashar al-Assad who owns large businesses and is under specific U.S. sanctions for what Washington terms as public corruption. On Friday, protests erupted in other Syrian cities in support of Deraa, including in Hama, a city in which late President Hafez al-Assad had sent in troops to quell a 1982 armed revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing thousands. FT Editorial: Gates calls for Syrian forces to move aside.
Gates: The Syrian people should follow Egypt’s lead and the country’s army should “empower a revolution”, Robert Gates, US secretary of defence, said as thousands marched in a southern city. Mr Gates made his comments – some of the toughest …
US Senators Call for Revolution in Syria – The Cable
“Two GOP senators opened another line of criticism of President Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East on Thursday, this time calling on the administration to more strongly criticize the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on popular demonstrations and begin engaging the Syrian opposition…. Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) want to know if the Obama administration is reaching out to Syrian opposition leaders and offering them support, as it did in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.
“The Syrian people must know that the United States stands with them against the brutal Assad regime. We can ill afford another timid embrace of a democratic uprising,” the senators said in a Thursday statement. “We urge the President, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Ford to publicly condemn the murders committed by the Assad dictatorship and to demonstrate their support for the Syrian people.” By invoking Ambassador Robert Ford, Kyl and Kirk are calling for the administration to make good on its argument that the United States needed an ambassador in Damascus to have maximum influence with the Syrian government. Kyl and others Republicans held up the Ford nomination for 10 months because they saw the appointment of any ambassador as a reward to the Syrian regime, and they wanted the administration to more clearly spell out its Syria policy…
“Ambassador Ford should begin a sustained campaign of outreach from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the Syrian opposition movement,” they said.
It is still unclear who has organized the demonstrations in Syria, so the Obama administration may find it difficult to engage with opposition figures, even if it wanted to. Pressure on the administration to get tough with the Syrian regime is growing…That’s why it is essential that the United States and Syria’s partners in Europe act quickly to punish Mr. Assad’s behavior. Verbal condemnations will not be enough.”
Syrian crackdown on protest seen scaring investors
Wed Mar 23, 2011
* Foreign companies reluctant to commit capital-businessman
* Ample foreign currency reserves at central bank
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
DAMASCUS, March 23 (Reuters) – The Syrian pound has fallen 4 percent and Damascus stock prices have tumbled since protests against Baathist rule erupted last week, threatening efforts to attract foreign investment to improve Syria’s infrastructure.
The government had hoped to use the bourse to raise capital as it opens sectors such as electricity generation and transport to foreign investors, ending decades of state control.
But a violent crackdown on nearly a week of protests in Deraa and other southern towns, in which security forces have killed 10 people, has been a severe setback for the drive to attract badly needed foreign investment.
On Wednesday alone, security forces killed six people in an attack on a mosque in Deraa, site of unprecedented protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s Baathist rule and demands for an end to corruption.
A Syrian businessman who has met Western companies to discuss forming joint ventures to bid for government projects said the projects could well be viable, but the rising political risk had prevented the talks from moving forward.
“There is reluctance to put big money into Syria now,” he said, referring to a billion dollar metro line project and the planned expansion of a highway to Iraq.
Foreign direct investment fell to $1.4 billion in 2009 from $2.4 billion in 2008, according to the World Bank — a fraction of the $85 billion the government says it needs to overhaul the transport system, power, health and communication network.
“Officials are talking about technicalities of projects as if political discontent does not exist,” another businessman said. “They have not figured out that an open political system and rule of law are powerful investment magnets.”
On the 20-company Damascus Stock Exchange, which opened two years ago, every stock that has traded since the protests erupted in Deraa on Friday fell by the 3 percent limit. The main market index has fallen 14 percent from its Jan. 26 2011 peak.
Even before the latest protests, foreigners were deterred from buying Syrian shares by extensive security checks, and by the U.S. sanctions imposed on Syria in 2004 for its support for militant groups, a bourse official said.
“The risk of holding the Syrian pound has gone up. There is demand for foreign currency and people are reluctant to part with their dollars,” said a currency dealer in Damascus.
The Syrian pound, which is not fully convertible — a legacy of Soviet-style economic policies — was trading at 48.75 to the dollar at exchange dealers on Wednesday, though the official rate remained stable at 47 to the dollar.
News Round Up
BBC MidEast: Scholar says problems in Syria “more economic in nature than political”, 2011-03-24
Doha Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel Television in Arabic at 1448 gmt on 23 March carries a live satellite interview with Nabil al- Samman, a Syrian academic and university professor, from Damascus to comment on the situation in Syria. He says: “What happened in Dar’a is a local problem but it became political. In my opinion, the security authorities and the governor were not able to deal with the situation properly.” He added: “Violence from the demonstrators is unacceptable
and violence from the authorities is also unacceptable. Problems can be resolved peacefully. However, I underline that what happened in Dar’a is a local issue as a result of tension, which I will not term as political in nature but rather local tensions among the governor, the security authorities in Dar’a, and the people.”
Anchorwoman Nuran Sallam interrupts Al-Samman and says: “The demands are not only local. Demands, such as lifting the state of emergency, are not tied to a single city or governorate in Syria, neither is releasing political detainees.”
Al-Samman says: “The demonstrators did not raise political banners. Some of them did. These demonstrations began by calling for releasing children who were detained. Some children were detained in an inappropriate way in Dar’a by the security authorities without the approval of the security authorities in Damascus. The demonstrators called for releasing these children.”
Responding to Sallam who points out that the demands have now expanded to involve the whole of Syria, such as lifting the state of emergency, Al-Samman says: “There is no doubt that there are political and economic problems in Syria. Actually, the problems are more economic in nature than political.”
Al-Samman notes that the shift from a socialist-based economy to a capitalist-based one caused the rise of a corrupt segment of society, adding: “This caused a gap in salaries, income, and social statuses, which caused tension in the society. However, I assure you that there will be a batch of reforms that will be implemented soon.” He continues: “Naturally, there are some individuals in this corrupt segment of society that have ties to the ruling Ba’th Party and we cannot blame President Bashar al-Asad for what is happening in Syria as he inherited a heavy burden from the 40-year rule of the Ba’th Party.”
Originally published by Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1448 23 Mar 11.
The number of killed people reached now 45 while media is reporting 15 apart from BBC
here are the names in Arabic, if you want them in English will send soon.
also listed the name of the village for each person.
1- معتز ابو زايد – خربة غزالة
2- فادي المصري – خربة غزالة
3- حيان حاج على – خربة غزالة
4- منذر رنس حواش قنبس الشمري – مدينة الحارة- 17 سنة
5- صلاح عبد الرحمن الحريري
6- محمد عبد الرحمن الحريري
7- عيسى محمد الكردي
8- معاذ نايف الأبازيد- قرية الصورة
9- محمد أحمد السلامات- البانوراما
10-جمال الجربوعي- الحراك
11-مهاب نايف أبازيد
12-مالك محمود مفضي الكراد
13-علي غصاب المحاميد
14-عباس سعد المحاميد
15-خالد عبد الله المحاميد
16-نايف حسين الأبازيد
18-رائد أحمد الحمصي
19-منذر عمرو- 22سنة عسكري
20-عمر عبد الوالي مسالمة
22-محمد أبو نبوت
23-حميد أبو نبوت
24-بلال أبو نبوت
25-عزيز أبو نبوت
26-أيهم حريري – 18-3-2011
27-حسام عبد المولى
28-مؤمن منذر مسالمة- 14سنة، 20-3-2011
30-أكرم جوابرة، 18-3-2011
31- محمد رشراش الجراد (الجرادات) – مدرس- 47 سنة- الحارة
32- أشرف عبد العزيز المصري- حوالي 40سنة
33- طلال الفاضل- الحريك
34- الشيخ وهيب العدوي- الحريك
35- عبد الغني الأكراد
36- علي الرواشدة- طفس
37- عبد الناصر مسلماني- قرية علما
38- سمير قمبس- 21سنة
39- محمد قمبس
40- عبد الله الجراد
41- وسام عياش- 18-3-2011
42- …….. أبو عون- 18-3-2011
44- محمود دياب داغبر- قرية علما
45-عمر أحمد الحريري- قرية علما