Quelling the Revolt: Will the Opposition Take up Arms?

Bashar al-Assad is determined to quell the Syrian revolt, which is why he has sent in the military with tanks and is now arresting the network of opposition activists and leaders that his intelligence agencies have been able to track.

There is an element of “shock and awe” to the operation. Tanks are clearly not useful for suppressing an urban rebellion, but they demonstrate the superior firepower of the state and the determination of the president. It is a classic military strategy – go hard and quick. Take out the opposition before t has a chance to harden and develop a durable command a reliable cell structure. This is precisely what the US military tried to do in Iraq. It is what it failed to do in Libya, when it allowed Qaddafi to regroup and regain control of Tripoli and Western Libya after his initial confusion and weakness.

I do not believe that the regime will be able to shut down the opposition. Unlike the Iranian opposition, which was successfully put down, the Syrian opposition is more revolutionary, even if, perhaps, not as numerous in the capital. The Green movement did not call for the overthrow of the regime and an end to the Islamic republic, but only reform. The Syrian opposition is revolutionary. Although it began by calling for reform, it quickly escalated to demand an end to the regime. It is convinced that reform of the Baathist regime is impossible and Syria must start over. It wants an end to the Baath Party, an end to Assad dynasty, an end to domination of the presidency and security forces by the Alawite religious community, and an end to the domination of the economy by the financial elite which has used nepotism, insider trading, and corruption to monopolize the ramparts of trade and industry. In short, the opposition abhors most aspects of the present regime and is working to uproot it. It is more determined and revolutionary than was the Iranian Green movement that Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei successfully suppressed.

There is no reason why it won’t do this. Some of the leadership of the opposition is dedicated to peaceful means, but this pacifism is not universal. Already we have witness the resort to arms by the opposition. In Banyas, nine soldiers were shot while driving down the main highway into the city by armed opposition elements. In Jable, demonstrators had armed themselves with clubs, shovels and other weapons. Although useless against firearms, these weapons demonstrated the mood of the crowd and willingness to oppose state violence with violence of their own. Syrian authorities have insisted from the beginning that opposition elements have been shooting at police and the military. Even if only a small percentage of these reports are true, it suggests that the opposition is willing to use force.

In the face of the state’s superior military and willingness to use force, the opposition will be forced to turn to military means itself. The opposition leadership has already been able to smuggle loads of satellite phones and electronic equipment in to reinforce their activists inside the country. Smuggling arms will not be hard. The Syrian government has reported stopping several truck loads of arms being smuggled in from Iraq already. Both Lebanon and Iraq are awash with arms and the smuggling routes between them and Syria are well traveled. The Gulf will be a source of money and support.

Militant groups in Iraq and elsewhere have long argued that Syria is a cockpit of the Middle East and a proper target for destabilization, etc.

A FEW QUESTIONS from a journalist and my responses:

Journalist: Do you think the protesters will breach the capital in large numbers? Do you think they HAVE to do that in order to overthrow Bashar?Landis: The opposition has yet to be successful in bringing out the middle classes and upper middle classes in the cities. The monied classes have too much to lose from prolonged instability, and the opposition cannot offer them any convincing scenario for a peaceful transition to democracy or regime change. They fear instability above above regime repression.

If the military and middle classes stay loyal to the government, the opposition will have an uphill battle.

A long grind to the bottom

But the opposition does not HAVE to bring Damascus and Aleppo onto the streets to bring down the regime. If they can do enough to paralyze the Syrian economy – as it is now paralyzed – the government will slowly fail. If business comes to a halt, tourism collapses, and foreign investment ceases, private enterprises and small businesses will go bankrupt and government revenue will dry up. Eventually the regime will be unable to pay salaries to state employees, and government services will stop. When this happens, the middle class will abandon the regime. It will be a long grind to the bottom.

Journalist: Given the relative disorganization of the opposition _ and the prospect that they’re taking up arms _ wont a power vacuum if Assad goes be potentially SERIOUSLY deadly?Landis: Yes.

Assad’s Crackdown Could Drive Syrian Opposition to Armed Revolt
Interview with Joshua Landis by Guy Taylor | 25 Apr 2011
World Politics Review | Trend Line

The sudden deployment of tanks and infantry into the Syrian city of Daraa on Monday has some observers wondering whether the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may soon devolve into a civil war comparable to the one raging a few hundreds miles away in Libya.

“If the opposition wants to continue to press its cause, there’s only one way to do it, and that’s through armed struggle,” says Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Landis, who maintains Syria Comment, a leading English-language blog on Syrian politics and society, tells Trend Lines that such a development is “likely to happen.”

Groups opposing al-Assad’s government have already built an infrastructure that would allow for the emergence of a secret militarized movement, Landis told Trend Lines, while adding that a serious armed response by the opposition “will take some time, because the government is arresting people right now and trying to tear down those networks that have developed.”

The goal behind the government’s deployment of tanks was to create a “shock and awe” effect against the uprising, said Landis. “They’re going to try and go in hard and fast and bring this to an end.”

During recent weeks, al-Assad had “hoped that he could get on top of this by making a few concessions, and that failed, so now he’s going to try and stamp this out,” Landis explained. “So it’s going to have to go bloody, and if the opposition wants to continue, they’re going to have to meet force with force.”

Such a development would most likely involve the movement of weapons into Syria by elements loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood based outside of the country.

“The Muslim Brotherhood would have to play a role in arming the opposition, because [regional] governments are not going to do it,” said Landis, noting that Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria’s other neighbors in the Persian Gulf “will not want to see the Assad regime fall, because the danger is that it will empower Islamic groups that are in the best position to be able to fight the regime.”

He added that while Syrian opposition groups in the United States and Europe will call for support for an armed uprising if one breaks out, the likelihood of a U.S. or European intervention on the side of an armed opposition to al-Assad is unlikely.

“Many of the realists in Washington and Europe . . . are frightened about the fall of this regime, because they believe the outcome is going to be civil war, not democracy. And that means a lot of refugees.”

Landis said, “Europe is already choking on Muslim refugees, and they’re not going to want to take more in.” He added that “there are hard days ahead. America’s allies in the region — Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia — are going to be supporting al-Assad . . . because they fear a civil war in Syria, which will mean refugees and a rise of extremism in the region. They fear that they’ll get sucked in.”

* Joshua Landis recently wrote this analysis on Syria for Time magazine.


Ayman Abdalnour, the Syrian opposition activist that runs the site all4syria, did not traveled to Israel, as this news story, claims.

Ayman has published a denial:

رد على اكاذيب سليمان معروف وقناته الدنيا وفبركة زيارة ايمن عبد النور لاسرائيل

نشر فى: غير مصنف

المعارض السوري أيمن عبد النور يزور تل ابيب

سربت مصادر إعلامية إسرائيلية الثلاثاء 26/4/2011 معلومات عن زيارة الإعلامي السوري المعارض أيمن عبد النور إلى تل أبيب خلال الأسبوع الماضي.

وأكدت المصادر وفق ما ذكر موقع “أخبارسورية” أن عبد النور التقى خلال زيارته التي استمرت يومين عدداً من قادة الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية من بينهم (عوفي . ز) المسؤول السري عن الملف السوري في جهاز المخابرات الإسرائيلية، مبينة أن من رتب اللقاء هو محمد دحلان القيادي السابق في حركة فتح والذي يلعب دوراً هاماً في تنسيق اللقاءات الإسرائيلية مع أعضاء المعارضة السورية.

UAE Stands Alongside Syria Amid Current Crisis

Syria Crackdown May Signal Brutal New Phase
By: Anthony Shadid | The New York Times

The Syrian Army stormed the restive city of Dara’a with tanks and soldiers and helped detain dozens in towns across the country Monday in an escalation of the crackdown on Syria’s five-week-old uprising….. the United States State Department urged American citizens not to visit the country and said Americans already there should leave immediately.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory late Monday calling for the evacuation of diplomats’ families and non-essential personnel at the U.S. embassy. It also urged U.S. citizens in Syria to leave the country immediately.

About 400 Syrians have already lost their lives in Syria’s unrest, and at least 25 people have been killed so far in Dara’a during Assad’s latest crackdown.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the U.N. Security Council was considering steps to punish Syria for its brutal suppression of dissent. European and U.S. officials have distributed a draft statement that condemns the crackdown, and supports U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call for an independent investigation of events in Syria.


In a further dramatic escalation, yesterday the Syrian army .. Amidst all the upheaval in the Middle East, the crisis in Syria is perhaps the most serious conflagration for the West – not only because of the country’s crucial strategic position as a neighbour of both Israel and Iran, but also because there is no possible outcome that is likely to benefit either Western interests or enhance the spirit of democracy.

The Philippines on Tuesday urged its 17,000 citizens in Syria to leave, in the face of growing violence there. MANILA (AFP)–

Comments (102)

Pages: [1] 2 3 » Show All

1. Akbar Palace said:

Bashar Assad is lucky to have Professor Josh on his side…

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April 26th, 2011, 11:40 am


2. Sophia said:

With Dahlan on the side of the Syrian opposition, it is getting uglier for the Syrian opposition and giving the much reviled criminal and collaborationist Dahlan a new life in politics. They really couldn’t get lower…

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April 26th, 2011, 11:58 am


3. majedkhaldoon said:

With all civil wars there are refugee,if Syria has civil war, where would the refugee go,in the south they will go to jordan,which has very limited capacity to host them,in the north they will go to Turkey, Turkey will be forced to do something,Turkey is the only country that can interfere militarily,in Syria.,while Turkey has good relations with Assad, they have been pushing him for reform, and he has not been doing enough to satisfy Turkey.Turkey is the answer.
The opposition has been reluctant to arm themselves,they do not want to even mention it,if it happen,I think it will quickly cause split in the army,and tilt the balance of power.
Saudia would like to see someone (like Nehlawi,At the time of Nasser) to revolt,they do not like Bashar Assad, but have good relations with Rifaat Assad,who is not liked in Syria, I think whatever Saudia does,will fail.
The answer is Turkey

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April 26th, 2011, 12:11 pm


4. sami Othmani said:

I can tell Landis that the Revolution will not be using or calling for arms. the syrian government is even weaker that using the arms against. using tanks and army will not change anything on the ground. demos will keep erupting from different places and cities. syria will not be back to same state it was before March.

bashar will be going as he day by day loses credibility. the alwaites need to find a new face to represent them.

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April 26th, 2011, 12:25 pm


5. aron said:

Professor Landis – With all due respect, I think you should be more careful in passing along such accusations against opposition activists, especially at this moment. The stakes for the people involved are extremely high. Meeting with Israeli intelligence is a hanging offense in Syria, and God knows what sort of treatment could hit his family if he stays out of reach.

Also, I find it slightly hard to believe that Mohammed Dahlan is responsible for Israel’s contacts with the Syrian opposition…

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April 26th, 2011, 12:26 pm


6. why-discuss said:

“I do not believe that the regime will be able to shut down the opposition.”

It will not be able to shutdown the hardline opposition unless:

– The army remains on the side of the governemnt
– The army crushes the hardliners in Deraa and the few cities where they are trapped quickly enough to prevent it from arming and the economy to collapse.

It is a run against time. The outcome of the next few days is decisive

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April 26th, 2011, 12:27 pm


7. SALAH ADDIN said:

April 26th, 2011, 12:29 pm


8. Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

The problem is that we don’t know how far the Americans will go in their game. Assad will need to use force for weeks if he is to quell the insurgency. Will the Americans let him do that? The possibility of Syria disintegrating is very high. Many Alawis have already left their homes in the inner regions to the Alawi Mountain. Also Christians are fleeing from unsafe areas to safer areas. There are Christians who have left to Lebanon already. Druze have escaped Hawran. The sectarian borders are already drawn. If the Americans pressure Assad too much and he feels that he is fighting a losing war against the Islamists, he will flee to the coastal region and entrench himself there with his clan. This is what the Islamists want, and it is not unlikely. This attack against Syria is unprecedented in its ferocity. The chances that Syria won’t survive are higher than the chances it will survive.

The Saudis will create a Wahhabi state in Deraa and Damascus to help them against Iran and Hizbullah. The Saudis will convince the Wahhabi state to recognize Israel and two independent states for the Alawis and Druze. Aleppo may become an independent state or may even fall in the hands of Turkey.

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April 26th, 2011, 12:33 pm


9. why-discuss said:

UAE Stands Alongside Syria Amid Current Crisis

United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Sunday in a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that UAE stands alongside Syria facing the current situation, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.

The message was conveyed by visiting UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan who talked with Assad over the overall reforms the Syrian leadership is undertaking, and the situation in the Gulf region, especially in Bahrain and Yemen.

Syria has been gripped by more than five weeks of protests, which it blamed on armed gangs and foreign conspiracy.

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April 26th, 2011, 12:42 pm


10. Question said:

Souri333, where are you getting from that Alawis, Christians and Druze are escaping?

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April 26th, 2011, 12:52 pm


11. vlad-the-syrian said:

to all of the contributors with my deepest respect,answer please this question :


le régime ? ou bien les ZOMBIES assoiffés de sang ?

si vous avez les preuves indiscutables que c’est le régime qui joue cette stratégie macabre, donnez-les ces preuves !

sorry for my bad arabic

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April 26th, 2011, 12:56 pm


12. Sophia said:

From Syria with doubt, part II
Source, Angry Arab:

I told comrade Ziad that his message which I posted here infuriated many people especially in Syria. He responded here: “The beauty of what happened in Tunisia and Egypt is that the U.S, Israel and Saudi Arabia were caught unprepared they were taken off-guard; reactionary and colonial powers did not have the time to plan.
Yes I know my opinion on this matter is always received negatively, even in here among my friends, nobody wants to believe that sometimes a gun might fire backward. I have a question to all those who discredit the talk of the role of Islamists in the demonstrations, why was a law forbidding the burqa3 in schools issued few years ago if it was not becoming a widespread problem?
Now they will deaf our ears with talks about the national unity, and the “secular Syrian society”; as if we did not live those lies in Lebanon back in 2005.
We have seen this movie before haven’t we? Let me predict: the regime falls…a bomb is planted in a Sunni neighborhood…another one in an alawite neighborhood…tribes loyalty bought by Saudi\U.S intelligence (does anybody remember “Abou elrich” in iraq? we’ll have feathers all over)….ethnic massacres….foreign intervention….resistance under siege…sunni and shia massacring each other from Lebanon to Iraq….and the whole dream of a better future that saw light with the Egyptian revolution shattered into pieces.
We don’t give colonial power any incentive to be creative….same plan…same trap…same result (we still brag about the Arab revolution against the ottoman empire…nobody broke it to us that we helped France and Britain to colonize the whole region – it was shareef Hussein and the familia no? all of our problems come from Mecca J)
Now, anyone who voices out those concerns will be categorized\labeled as a regime supporter and won’t be heard…..I know that voicing out those concerns will be received by many people as a support to the regime’s policies\corruption\dictatorship…yet it is not, it only intends to raise the question, will the total collapse of regime be beneficial to our aims and goals of a better future?
Same thing happened in 2005, many people tend to live in their own imaginary bubble thinking that a democratic society will emerge only to discover later on that they were fooled…once again.
Today the Syrian people is drawing the future of the whole region for a long coming period…one can only hope they don’t give us a surreal one J

Part I here:

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April 26th, 2011, 1:25 pm


13. Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Dr. Landis who told you that the opposition does not have weapons already? The Syrian army has been fighting in Deraa for 2 days. Who is fighting it? and with what?? With peaceful chants?

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April 26th, 2011, 1:28 pm


14. majedkhaldoon said:

ارتفعت القيمة الإجمالية لتداولات سوق دمشق للأوراق المالية، يوم الثلاثاء، حوالي 1,1 مليون ليرة سورية عن الجلسة الماضية لتسجل القيمة الإجمالية للتداولات 4,2 مليون ليرة ، بعدما كانت مسجلة 3,1 مليونا.

إلا أن مؤشر السوق انخفض بمقدار 12.54 نقطة عن الجلسة الماضية، حيث أغلق على قيمة 1,262.83 وبنسبة تغير سالبة قدرها 0.98-%.

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April 26th, 2011, 2:12 pm


15. EHSANI2 said:


The performance of the stock market is a complicated story. Many of the stocks do not trade given the maximum allowable 3% daily move. One has to be careful when looking at the “index”. Individual stock performances tell a better story. Since the end of January, the overall index is down 28%. If you look at the stock of Qatar National Bank for example (QNBS) which traded today, it is down close to 38% since the end of January 2011 and as much as 69% since its all time high trade of syp 1692 in January of 2010.

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April 26th, 2011, 2:34 pm


16. professional student said:

“Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria’s other neighbors in the Persian Gulf “will not want to see the Assad regime fall, because the danger is that it will empower Islamic groups that are in the best position to be able to fight the regime.”

Isn’t it possible that pro-Hariri and other anti-Syrian forces in Lebanon might want to see the Assad regime fall, and take steps to do it? Furthermore the Lebanese border is very porous (and let’s not even start with the Iraqi border), weapons can be easily smuggled into Syria, and there are plenty of weapons in both Lebanon and Iraq.

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April 26th, 2011, 2:52 pm


17. AIG said:


Since shares are quoted in Syrian pounds, and the pound has been devalued (at least in the unofficial market), the losses in dollar terms are greater. What did QNBS cost in dollars in the beginning of 2010 and now?

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April 26th, 2011, 2:55 pm


18. Mina said:

This is another provocation at Iran to respond, because of its defense agreement with Syria. Everything is in place for a summer war. Netanyahu was right: he could buy all the time he wanted without offering concessions. Remember that Sarkozy’s brother works for Carlye since 2008. Now we can understand the Libyan episode has another smoke screen in order to give time to Netanyahu and his thugs to pump up the pressure on Syria through Ghonim and a few cyber activists.
But Europe shouldn’t think people like Qardawi work for free. The next step will be for the MB to ask for Muslim political parties in Europe even more than they already do so, as they are being told to use this kind of pressures by their Wahhabi brokers.

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April 26th, 2011, 3:01 pm


19. EHSANI2 said:


The currency has only moved by about 3.8% so far. The central bank has been supporting it of course.

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April 26th, 2011, 3:04 pm


20. AIG said:


Thanks. What is the “unofficial” rate? Was there a devaluation in the black market?

By the way, is there a way to bet against the Syrian pound? Can one get into a forward contract in some bank outside Syria?

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April 26th, 2011, 3:19 pm


21. EHSANI2 said:


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April 26th, 2011, 3:42 pm


22. why-discuss said:

I am amazed by the naivety of the anti-regime educated people.
You may want to humiliate and weaken Bashar al Assad but there are people stronger than you who want to humiliate and weaken Syria.

Just remember the 2005 international campaign after the Hariri murder, remember the international campaign after the bombing of the alleged nuclear weapon factory, remember the campaign accusing Syria to allow terrorist in Iraq, the campaign about weapon smuggling to Hezbollah, and the numerous sanctions.
Syria came out of all these and was able to developing its economical links with regional powers….

Ultimately you are being manipulated and you’ll probably become the collaterals of a war that is beyond you.

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April 26th, 2011, 3:50 pm


23. NK said:

Norman and WD

Since you asked if there were any demonstrations today


The only reason the Syrian people had to suffer all these years is because we have a DICTATOR in control, we tolerated him because we thought we were heading toward something better, instead people are getting shot in the streets, what a glorious future he holds in store for us indeed!.

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April 26th, 2011, 3:57 pm


24. majedkhaldoon said:

Thank you Ehsani2.

The business,is suffering,A friend said they are not making the cost of electricity,when they open their stores,As Ehsani2 said the economy is very important factor,this uprising ,now, it is in the fivth week,how long the people can tolerate such problem,as Mr. Landis said,there comes a time the goverment may not be able to pay salaries,since it is a monthly payments,I think it is not a problem of the next two months,what happened in Deraa,is not similar to Hama in 1982,it may take long time,Damascus depends on Horan agriculture,and the jordan valley,the problem in Horan is bound to effect people in Damascus,I think the economy will have major effect on how to manage this crisis.

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April 26th, 2011, 4:02 pm


25. why-discuss said:

“Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Obama”

From a “Gay Girl in Damascus blog” linked by the Figaro


Le Figaro
La communauté internationale doit-elle intervenir en Syrie ?


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April 26th, 2011, 4:04 pm


26. why-discuss said:


Thanks, it is comforting to see young Syrians in peaceful demonstrations with candles…


“what happened in Deraa,is not similar to Hama in 1982,it may take long time”

What do you mean? I guess Deraa is much smaller than Hama, so why would it take longer?

The government fights back at Internet

Wissam Tarif, director of the Insan human rights organisation, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that his website has been left hacked into and more than 2,000 spam messages left on it, effectively crippling the site.

Tarif said his Facebook and Twitter accounts had also been hacked into and hundreds of threatening and abusive messages left.

“The messages said that I am history, that they will kill me and they want to drink my blood,” he said. “They also seem to have a big problem with my mother and other members of my family.”

Hacking into activists’ social media accounts using “phishing” operations has been a tactic other governments in the region have used to try to prevent news of uprisings in their own countries from reaching the outside world.

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April 26th, 2011, 4:15 pm


27. ziadsoury said:

I do not want any censorship at all. Everyone has the right to speak their mind even the sick and deranged ones from all sides.

If Syria Almighty wants to kill half of the Syrian population, then we all should be aware of that.
If a salafi extremist wants to get rid of all Alawis, he is allowed to say so and we should be aware of that.

All what I asking for is to be free. Yes free. No one and I mean no one from Syria has the right to tell me “no”. I am no one’s slave. The Asad clan and their thugs don’t own me; don’t own any other Syrian and for sure don’t own Syria. We are born free and die free. So is our beautiful Syria.

If asking for and demanding my rights gives you a reason to call me a traitor. Then I say right back at you.

Ten (10) year olds were arrested and tortured for 2 weeks by your master’s cousin and you call me what? The traitors are the ones who applaud and defend that behavior.

You lumped everyone who is asking for freedom from 50 years of tyranny as traitors. Again nothing surprises me. Trying to dehumanize anyone who does not shout Suryah Alasad. That is not going to work. No one and I mean no one or family owns Syria. We all will die and Syria will be there and will outlast all the tyrants. Long live free Syria.

How long is your master going to last? 10, 15, 30 years or until death? Is his son or brother going to be the new master after his death? Do you guys think this is going to last forever? Don’t you worry about your grandkids? DO you think the Syrians who lost their beautiful sons in their primetime will forget the crimes of this regime? I will not.

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April 26th, 2011, 4:20 pm


28. MS said:

WHY-DISCUSS, I totally agree with you.
Furthermore, there is a media war going on, and nobody is asking questions or questioning sources.
Especially on Al-Jazeera, I am increasingly noticing journalists using their own conclusions as facts. They never speak of how they came to these facts and what was the evidence. Simple example is this blog piece by Cal Perry on Al Jazeera
While it tries to touch on the humanistic feeling, I did not notice him once say what the people who shot looked like and if they were there on tanks or what.

Bashar Al-Assad does not look like a dumb-enough guy to not realize the repercussion of promising no more killings and safety for the population one week and shooting about a 100 the next week.
While this may make him look like he does not keep his word, it’s those who would profit behind the scenes in the Damascus regime that should be questioned as well for an answer.
I seriously hope he can still get himself out of this mess by pushing for an actual investigation and trial of those responsible for the killings, more freedom, to gain back stability.

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April 26th, 2011, 4:21 pm


29. Chris W said:

Incidentally, per the remark about tanks being used for ‘shock and awe’, there’s nothing unusual in using tanks in urban environments. The Americans found them essential in urban warfare during the insurgency in Iraq, the Jews too in their urban battles.

A tank is very vulnerable to anti-tank weapons in a city, but a soldier wearing nothing but a steel helmet is vulnerable to everything. Use of armour in this setting is quite a normal tactic.

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April 26th, 2011, 4:51 pm


30. ziadsoury said:

Asad and clan at work


I am sure it is full of lies and made up stories..

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April 26th, 2011, 4:52 pm


31. NK said:


Thanks for the link in #23, an openly lesbian activist taking part in the demonstrations against this ruthless regime, that brought a tear into my eyes.

So much for the Salafi/MB uprising …

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April 26th, 2011, 4:53 pm


32. Solitarius said:

surprised by the title of this post. isn’t it already clear that there has been weapons involved and violence in the demonstrations? in Homs it’s already well known that since day when the demonstrators went unchecked to the general’s club (nadi al doubbat), attacked it, and killed the poor doorman (i also heard he was a soldier)

this is obviously the most minor incident in the whole series.. but just to demonstrate that it has been present since day one

the current situation needs SERIOUS analysis.. what kind of technology is present amongst the dissidents in Dar3a.. what kind of weaponry.. how did they get these satellite phones?

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April 26th, 2011, 5:14 pm


33. Majed97 said:

“I do not believe that the regime will be able to shut down the opposition.”

I agree; but shutting it down should not be the goal anyway. The objective, I think, should be to weaken it enough to allow the President sufficient time to implement his proposed reforms in a less panicky time table, and not allow the moslem brotherhood to hijack this movement. The oppositions have never been shut down anyway; they have always been operating underground, and outside the country, albeit ineffectively. As for arming them, I don’t see how this could possibly be a viable option, considering how fragmented they are, and how uncomfortable Syria’s neighbors will be with such a wild bunch roaming their boarders. Beside, although Syria’s military cannot match Israel advanced weapons, it still has powerful capability to deal with inexperienced insurgency. I don’t think the oppositions will risk it militarily, as they will have a lot to lose by alienating themselves domestically and internationally, not to mention validating the Syrian government’s claims that they are a terrorist organization.

This coming Friday may prove to be a decisive day. We should be able to measure the effectiveness of the Daraa “shock and awe” on the rest of demonstrators. We’ll see if fear will keep demonstrators in the other troubled cities (Homs, Hama, Banias) from coming out in significant numbers. More importantly, we’ll see how Aleppo and Damascus respond… if they respond at all. mobilizing those two cities is essential to both sides.

I think it would be a clever pre-emptive move by the government to call on its supporters this Friday, particularly in Aleppo and Damascus, to demonstrate their support in massive numbers. Such a powerful show of support for the government, coupled with fear of what happened in Daraa, could very well put this uprising to rest. It could also serve a response to the international community to legitimize the government’s action in Daraa; and give some cover to Syria’s friends with veto power (Russia and China) to veto any resolution against Syria. Time will tell but right now, Friday seems so far away…

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April 26th, 2011, 5:18 pm


35. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Nice chat with IR export Bertrand Badie in today’s Le Monde, where he explains that, sadly, the intervention of France, the UK and the USA (so-called “NATO”) gave carte blanche for Bashar’s excesses.


I hope the opposition has the synthetic mindset and rock-hard determination and ruthlessness to withstand/reply to the oppression, because Bashar knows very well the West can’t do a damn thing about it.

BTW lets see what King Abdullah does about his bugbear, the Shi’a Crescent now. Time to put up or shut up.

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April 26th, 2011, 5:31 pm


36. Verls laguerre civile en Syrie? « Mounadil al Djazaïri said:

[…] Répression de la révolte: l’opposition prendra-t-elle les armes? Par Joshua Landis, Syria Comment (USA) 26 avril 2011 Bachar al-Assad est déterminé à mater la révolte syrienne, c’est pourquoi il a fait appel à l’armée et à ses blindés et procède maintenant à l’arrestation des réseaux de militants et de leaders de l’opposition que ses services de renseignements ont pu localiser. Il y a un aspect “choc et effroi” dans cette opération. Les tanks ne sont à l’évidence pas utiles pour réprimer une rébellion urbaine, mais ils montrent la puissance de feu supérieure de l’Etat et la détermination du président. C’est une stratégie militaire classique – vite et fort. Dominer l’opposition  avant qu’elle ait la possibilité de se renforcer et de se structurer durablement en termes de commandement. C’est précisément ce que l’armée US avait essayé de faire en Irak. C’est ce qu’elle n’a pas fait en Libye, quand elle a permis aux forces de Kadhafi de se regrouper et de reprendre le contrôle de Tripoli et de l’ouest libyen après son état initial de faiblesse et de confusion. Je ne pense pas que le régime parviendra à réduire l’opposition au silence. A la différence de l’opposition iranienne, qui a pu être muselée, l’opposition syrienne est plus révolutionnaire même si, peut-être, pas aussi nombreuse dans la capitale. Le mouvement Vert [en Iran] n’appelait pas à renverser le régime et à mettre fin à la république islamique, mais demandait seulement des réformes. L’opposition syrienne est révolutionnaire. Même s elle a commencé par appeler à des réformes, elle en est vite venue à exiger la fin du régime. Elle est convaincue qu’il est impossible de réformer le régime baathiste et que la Syrie doit partir sur de nouvelles bases. Elle veut la fin du régime baathiste, la fin de la dynastie Assad, la fin de la domination de la présidence et des forces de sécurité par la communauté religieuse alaouite, et la fin de la domination de l’économie par l’élite financière qui a recouru au népotisme, aux échanges entre initiés et à la corruption pour monopoliser  des pans entiers du commerce et de l’industrie. En bref, l’opposition abhorre la plupart des aspects du régime actuel et s’attelle à le déraciner. Elle est plus déterminée et révolutionnaire que ne l’était le mouvement Vert en Iran qu’Ahmadinedjad et Khamenei ont réussi à réprimer. Il n’y a aucune raison pour qu’elle ne le fasse pas. Certains des dirigeants de l’opposition prônent des moyens pacifiques, mais cette approche ne fait pas l’unanimité. Nous avons déjà constaté le recours à la violence armée par l’opposition. A Banias, 9 soldats avaient été tués par des opposants armés alors que leur véhicule roulait sur l’autoroute principale en direction de la ville. A Jable, des manifestants s’étaient armés de bâtons, de pelles et d’autres armes [des armes de fortune, des outils… NdT]. Quoiqu’inutiles devant des armes à feu, ces armes montraient l’état d’esprit de la foule et sa volonté d’opposer sa propre violence à la violence d’Etat. Les autorités syriennes ont insisté dès le début pour dire que des éléments d’opposition avaient tiré sur des policiers et des soldats. Même si très peu d’informations de ce genre sont avérées, elles sous-entendent que l’opposition est prête à recourir à la force. Face à la supériorité militaire de l’Etat et à sa volonté de recourir à la force, l’opposition sera elle-même contrainte de recourir à l’action armée. La direction de l’opposition a déjà pu introduire clandestinement des lots de téléphones satellitaires et de matériel électronique pour renforcer les militants à l’intérieur du pays. Faire passer des armes ne sera pas difficile. Le gouvernement syrien a déjà annoncé avoir intercepté plusieurs camions chargés d’armes en provenance d’Irak. Le Liban et l’Irak regorgent d’armes et les itinéraires de contrebande entre ces pays et la Syrie sont très fréquentés. Les pays du Golfe apporteront argent et soutien. Des organisations militantes en Irak et ailleurs soutiennent depuis longtemps que la Syrie est un poste de pilotage du Moyen Orient et une cible adéquate pour la déstabilisation, etc. Quelques questions d’un journaliste et mes réponses: Journaliste: “Pensez-vous que les manifestants vont submerger la capitale ? Pensez-vous qu’ils doivent le  faire pour renverser Bachar ?  Les classes possédantes ont trop à perdre avec une instabilité prolongée, et l’opposition ne peut leur offrir aucun scénario convaincant pour une transition pacifique vers la démocratie ou un changement de régime. Elles craignent l’instabilité par-dessus tout, encore plus que la répression du régime. Landis : L’opposition doit d’abord réussir à faire sortir dans la rue les classes moyennes et les classes moyennes supérieures. Si l’armée et les classes moyennes restent fidèles au gouvernement, la bataille sera difficile pour l’opposition. Une longue spirale descendante Mais l’opposition n’a pas à faire descendre Alep et Damas dans les rues pour faire tomber le régime. S’ils peuvent faire  suffisamment pour paralyser l’économie syrienne – comme c’est le cas actuellement – le gouvernement tombera de lui-même. Si les entreprises s’arrêtent, si le tourisme s’effondre et si l’investissement étranger s’interrompt, les entreprises privées et les petits commerces feront faillite et les sources de revenus du gouvernement se tariront. A la fin, le régime ne pourra plus payer les salaires des fonctionnaires, et les services publics cesseront de fonctionner. A ce moment là, les classes moyennes abandonneront le régime. Ce sera une lente spirale descendante. Journaliste: Compte tenu de la relative désorganisation de l’opposition  – et l’éventualité qu’elle prenne les armes – une vacance du pouvoir en cas de départ d’Assad ne risque-t-elle pas d’être très meurtrière ? Landis : Oui […]

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April 26th, 2011, 5:31 pm


37. Abū Tammām said:

Chris W said;
“The Americans found them essential in urban warfare during the insurgency in Iraq, the Jews too in their urban battles.”

In what urban battles did the “Jews” use tanks? Was there a uprising in New York or London that I was not aware of?

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April 26th, 2011, 5:33 pm


38. Off the Wall said:

Nothing to say today. Watching realities sink, fought off by self imposed illusions.

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April 26th, 2011, 5:39 pm


39. Renegade said:

Mr. Landis,

To credit your blog, it allows voices on both ends of the spectrum to express opinions vociferously; nevertheless, your analysis over the current upheaval sweeping the country, has fallen shy on open critique to the government unleashed force against protesters.

It only reinforces the perception of your systematic bias towards the regime, not only hails Mrs. Landis from the Alawite minority as an influence, but also a few of her family members have enlisted in the Syrian army, similar to its preponderance of Alawite high-ranking officers. Hopefully, they have not been directly involved in the recent military campaigns against Syrians.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:08 pm


40. Solitarius said:

I’m usually a very calm person, but lately I have been truly feeling the stress. Today must be the peak as the reality of the situation in Syria is sinking in as the above commentator rightly describes. I worry because I know even though people in high command might know what to do, the low ranks and the people on the ground, combined with sectarian hatred and international plots might spiral things out of control. In the absence of a supportive neighborhood this would be catastrophic. Now I truly understand the meaning of stability and to have a big brother. Even though Syria fucked up in Lebanon, it was still an effective safety monitor that would not let things go down the bloody path. Who would play this role if Syria is weakened?

I feel like the decision to send regime supports onto the streets is unwise. it’s provocative for those who have lost loved ones. What happened to the calls for everybody to stay at home? It was working nicely. Homs haven’t seen much protests if any since Friday while last week there were some during the weekday.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:10 pm


41. Chris W said:

Haha, that’s pretty funny, ‘Abu’.
It’s true, you could sometimes be forgiven for thinking the Jewish homeland was the USA with its capital at New York (or LA, or Washington), but I was thinking of urban battles fought by the the army of the *other* Jewish homeland. 😉

How many of the other commentors on this site with Arabic-sounding pseudonyms are really Americans or Israelis??

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April 26th, 2011, 6:14 pm


42. suri-amreki said:

The tanks are effective when the civilians have no RPG but will become useless if the people were able to capture RPGs from the soldiers themselves. I doubt that the Syrian people have access to RPGs (smuggled from outside) but if some of the Syrian Army decided to defect it will be a civil sectarian war! The Asad regime is approaching the point of no return and its end!

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April 26th, 2011, 6:20 pm


43. jad said:

Everything will be fine, God willing!

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April 26th, 2011, 6:23 pm


44. s.s said:

UK, USA, and France understand well the vacuum they may create if they decided to attempt to bring the regime down. Not that they will be successful. France even declared today that they will not intervene. The opposition hope of western aid is just smoke now. The opposition is cornered in their cities. The Syrian security seems to have discovered the terrorist network behind the opposition.

They are doing a laparoscopic surgery to extract the pockets of terror. I would disagree with the media exaggeration of the brutality of the army. Well 25, 35, or even 100 is nothing compared to what the media is describing. If the army is shooting randomly we should have heard of thousands of deaths. I think the army wants to grab the ones on their list.

Assad has nothing to fear. The time in his hands to complete his surgery. The west is too week to get involved in Syria. The regime is backed up by a strong allies that can bring the Saudi axis to ground if they want.

The coming Fridays are going to be the Fridays of Lions not opposition anymore. The people got a great boost from the intervention. I see the surgery successful by all means. Need not to forget that Assad is a surgeon and a great one. Love the ground you walk on chief Assad.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:30 pm


45. Chris W said:

I really hope it doesn’t come down to urban warfare. As the Israelis, Americans, and many others since WWII have shown, it isn’t impossible for an army to defeat a smaller opponent in an urban environment; not at all, but it’s horribly destructive.

Is the current Assad regime that intractable that armed uprising is the best solution? Do you hope that Western forces will bomb Syria as ineffectually as they have the Libyans?

Isn’t a period of perestroika – ongoing liberalisation, lifting of restrictions and eventually democracy – a reasonable compromise? It worked very well in ending Communism in Europe.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:38 pm


46. s.s said:


“Asad regime is approaching the point of no return and its end!”

You think so. On what you based your assumptions. I see everything working for the great Assad. Wait and you will witness the birth of a Great Leader. Not that he was not, but this crises will make him the strongest most powerful leader in the region.

Why do you see his end. What you see that I do not see. Do you see the west coming for your help: I do not see that. UK army is bankrupt. USA is so stretched in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now in Libya that another war would be a political execution to Mr. Obama.

Do you see the opposition is strong enough to overcome the government?……….I do not see that. The army will defeat the opposition and I see them on the run.

Your Great Friday was a total failure. The coming Fridays are not yours. IT IS OURS SIR, so step aside and let us do our business.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:39 pm


47. Off the Wall said:

A criminal regime, vulgar supporters, check your common sense if you expect civility from the regime’s gang. This is not the Godfather movie, where the Corleones listen to Opera before bullets fly and still get to show som so-called gang code of conduct. This is a struggle between the basest of animal urges, survival and dominance, and the loftiest of human desires, freedom and dignity.

I can only expect dances on the corps of innocent victims. It already happened on this blog and elsewhere. This is part of the sinking reality.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:49 pm


48. syau said:

Nk – #31 seems to think that because of 1 open lesbian activist, there is not mb/salafi uprising,

Nk knows very well that there definately is a mb uprising as he knows very well that an Islamist rule will not let allow this open lesbian or any other gay person see the light of day in a country they govern.

With an Islamist government, everybody loses.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:53 pm


49. Chris W said:

It’s such a mistake for the West to be encouraging revolution in the Arab world. I struggle to think of a situation – ever in history – where violent revolution has led to a government better than the one it overthrew.

President Assad seems to have a genuine desire to liberalise Syria. He’s lived at peace with his neighbours – Israel included. Syria is a dictatorship, but since the death of Assad the elder, it’s been a relatively benign one: a far cry from the Butcher of Baghdad or Mullahs of Iran.

It sickens me to see Americans, especially, on their high horse about dictatorship in Syria. Stupidity is as destructive as wickedness in this world; and American stupidity has caused more suffering than the wrongdoing of 100 regimes like the current one in Syria.

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April 26th, 2011, 6:55 pm


50. abraham said:

The Syrian regime is acting shamelessly. I didn’t think Bashar would let it come to this and I always had a high level of respect for him, in the hope and anticipation that he would eventually find the wisdom and courage to open up Syria to free enterprise and a more republican form of government. That respect is now replaced with disdain, and a desire to see the regime go. And this coming from an Alawite (albeit outside of Syria).

Bashar could have done the one sensible thing, the only thing that would ensure his survival, as well as his enshrine him forever as the creator of a new Syria, which was to bring true liberty to the Middle East by opening society and letting the Syrian people run their own lives. This would be the boldest and most defiant move against Israel that any Middle Eastern leader could commit, yet none have the courage to take that step. Instead, they fall back on the comfortable lives of privilege that they have inherited and to which they are addicted. They will always choose their own selfish desires over the real needs of those over which they rule.

And so now we see the Syrian regime using the same disgusting and despicable tactics as its zionist enemy, raging through villages with tanks, sniping at anything that moves and shooting out rooftop water tanks. It’s hard to tell who the zionists are anymore.

And so thus, Bashar will be just another overthrown A-rab thug, to be forgotten in time as that moron that could have had it all but chose to die over a fraction of it instead.

Good riddance.

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April 26th, 2011, 7:11 pm


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