Syrian Opposition Meeting in Antalya: Day Two

Two friends have given feedback on the second day of the Syrian Opposition meeting in Antalya.

Syria: Opposition Drafts Declaration in Antalya

Both were impressed by the constructive nature of the second day. George Washington was not born, they conceded, but hard decisions were made.

The Muslim Brothers and Islamists were under intense pressure to accept the notion of a secular government where religion and state would be separate. They resisted this most of the day but ultimately conceded at the eleventh hour. We do not have the statement or wording on this “secular” statement. But the MB accepted to not contest the separation of state and religion in the conference statement. I will publish as soon as I can get the wording of the conference statement.

According to some, Amr al-Azm (son of Sadiq) Amr Miqdad (presumably from the large Deraa family), and Muhammad al-Abdullah all played an important role in mediating and facilitating the discussion. They worked very hard to get the secular statement accepted.

The young guys were impressive. “Anyone in Damascus who doesn’t take these guys seriously is stupid,” my source explained. They are no where near where they should be, but for a first meeting this was impressive.” There were many arguments between the young, new leaders and the old, established leaders who have been in exile for decades. The young leaders had no patience for the committees and bureaucracy of the older generation. They are getting communication lines in place, developing networks between towns and did not have time for the endless haggling of the older generation.

About 70 Kurds showed up which surprised everyone. Also the number of tribal leaders was impressive. They were wearing heir dish dashers and kafiyyas.

“People have just had enough of being treated like shit. They want to be treated like real human beings – this was what it was all about,” one person explained. They have given up on talking with the regime. They don’t want the Assad family anymore.

Another important accomplishment was the establishment of an executive board and an election. They voted on a 31 member executive body, nine of whom will be full time. Two different lists of 31 people were presented, then they voted  on which of the two lists would be picked. There was a lot of argument about who would be on the lists. It looks like they have agree on the people.

When the National Salvation Front was constructed in 2006, ex-V.P. Abdal Halim Khaddam waltzed in and took charge without a proper election. It was not a democratic opposition. At the very least, this opposition effort is proceeding by some sort of democratic procedure and there are elections.

Another aspect of the meeting that people liked was that the organizers of the conference excluded Farid Ghadary, Abdal Halim Khaddam, and Rifaat al-Assad because they are too tainted.  The conference came out with a statement refusing foreign intervention and proclaiming the integrity and inviolability of Syria’s boarders. “Everything must be done to preserve Syria’s unity and territorial integrity,” their statement read.

“I want those people in Damascus to feel threatened,” said one friend. “This meeting is more impressive than anything the Baath has accomplished in the last 40 years. When have they ever had a real election? This is a start. There was a real young group of people working on the road to Damascus”

They issued a statement that Alawis should feel safe. No group would be targeted.

The Antalya group will start their own Facebook page tomorrow.

REBELS DEMAND HANDOVER OF POWER – Financial Times

Syria’s opposition has called on President Bashar al-Assad to resign immediately and hand over power to Farouk al-Sharaa, vice-president, to secure the country’s transition to democracy, writes Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut.

Opposition members meeting in Turkey rejected foreign intervention in the effort to end Mr Assad’s rule, and stressed the movement did not “aim to undermine any sect”.

“The delegates have committed to the demands of the Syrian people to bring down the regime and support the people’s revolution for freedom and dignity,” a statement issued by the conference said.

The conference – an unprecedented meeting of disparate activists from inside and outside Syria – also elected a 31-member consultative council to support the uprising, which started two and a half months ago.

Separately, Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, on Thursday called on the international community to take tougher action on the Syrian authorities’ repression of the protests, urging countries to “get on the right side of history”.

Russia and China have objected to a draft UN Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria, which Human Rights Watch has said could have involved “crimes against humanity”.

Syrian opposition tell Assad to quit immediately
AFP, Thursday, June 02, 2011

Syrian opposition groups called Thursday for President Bashar al-Assad’s immediate resignation, in a joint declaration at the end of a two-day meeting in Turkey.

The statement, read out in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, urged the “immediate resignation of President Bashar al-Assad from all functions he occupies.”

It urged the holding of “parliamentary and presidential elections within a period that will not exceed one year” following Assad’s resignation.

The dissidents vowed “to do whatever it is up to them to bring down the regime” in Syria, welcoming the declaration with applause.

Fears over crackdown

UN genocide prevention experts warned the Syrian authorities Thursday over “apparently systematic and deliberate attacks” on unarmed civilians.

Putting new UN pressure on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime over his crackdown, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s special advisors on prevention of genocide and responsibility to protect civilian populations said they were “gravely concerned” at the growing death toll from the “violent suppression” of protests.

“We are particularly alarmed at the apparently systematic and deliberate attacks by police, military, and other security forces against unarmed civilians taking part in the last two months of protests,” said the advisors Francis Deng and Edward Luck.

“The systematic and widespread attacks that are alleged to have taken place in Syria appear primarily to have targeted the civilian population,” they said in a joint statement.

“This underscores the need for an independent, thorough, and objective investigation into all alleged violations of international human rights law,” the experts said.

Syria has refused to let a UN human rights mission into the country to investigate the crackdown which is said to have left hundreds dead. The UN Security Council is negotiating a resolution which would condemn the violence.

Syria: Opposition Drafts Declaration in Antalya
by Jillian York

Just a day after President Bashar Assad announced a general amnesty for political prisoners, a varied group of Syrian opposition members are meeting to create what one report referred to as a “‘roadmap’ for a peaceful and democratic transition in Syria.” The group is comprised mostly of exiles, including members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Syrian-American academic Dr. Mohja Kahf, a professor at the University of Arkansas, is live-tweeting the event, which is taking place at a resort in Antalya, Turkey.

Syrians attend the Antalya conference, flanked by images of Syrian martyrs

Late Wednesday, she wrote of the event: “Antalya:This is not your daddy’s old opposition conference #Syria New groupings forming, young faces,fresh energies.”

Dr. Kahf also tweeted that the members of the meeting would be holding a day-long hunger strike in solidarity with their fellow Syrians.

Also on Twitter, @abulyas was quick to point out that the conference was not an “opposition conference,” noting:

“#Antalya conf isn’t “opposition” conf. It brought many independent Syrians from the world united in purpose to end Syrian regime #march15″

Though the conference attendees are united in their cause, the conference has not been without its disagreements. Dr. Kahf noted a conversation she witnessed in the hotel lobby:

“Younger generation that is carrying this rev:don’t care abt old lines of diffs:Ikhwan,secularists” -lobby conversation Antalya conf #Syria.”

An article in NOW! Lebanon notes a young/old divide as well. There have also been reports that some Syrian opposition members refused to attend the conference, as well as some expressions of disappointment on Twitter from Syrians in the country.

LA Times - — Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Opposition leaders have been meeting for the past two days in Antalya, Turkey, to support the anti-government uprising in Syria. At the end of the conference Thursday, they issued their demands.

“The delegates have committed to the demands of the Syrian people to bring down the regime and support the people’s revolution for freedom and dignity,” said the statement issued by 300 pro-democracy activists and opposition leaders.

On Thursday, as activists conducted workshops on social networking and drafted their demands in a resort hotel, scores of Assad supporters gathered outside, some wearing T-shirts featuring a picture of the embattled president.

“We love Bashar,” they chanted on CNN.

Turkish police could be seen out in force in Antalya, ensuring that several hundred pro-government demonstrators could not reach the conference.

“What would post-Assad Syria look like? That’s the $50-million question,” Amr Al Azm, who helped draft the opposition statement, told CNN. “We’ve been able to begin to address what the alternative would like like … we’ve provided a road map,” said Al Azm, a Syrian American history professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio who was in Turkey on Thursday.

He is an unlikely opposition leader. Until March, he was a senior consultant on a project headed by Assad’s wife, Asma, that was supposed to reform Syria’s culture ministry.

“What changed for me was the violence, the unprecedented level of violence that seemed random and almost uncontrolled,” Al Azm told CNN. “There are people that I actually know that have had their fingernails pulled out.”

Large anti-government protests were expected again in Syria on Friday after prayers.

Protests close in on divided Damascus
By an FT reporter, June 2 2011 19:10 | Financial Times

In the affluent neighbourhoods of central Damascus, the crackdown on Syria’s anti-government protests feels far away.

Young Damascenes sit in western-style cafés in Shaalan, drink Italian coffee, smoke traditional water pipes and casually browse the internet on their laptops. “There is no problem here,” is a common refrain among locals. “It will all be over in one or two months.”

The centre of the Syrian capital has, along with the business city of Aleppo, remained relatively quiet in a more than two-month uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, president.

Outside of Damascus, brutal attacks have escalated. Syrian forces killed at least 13 civilians in the town of Rastan on Thursday, human rights campaigners told Reuters, raising the death toll in the central province of Homs this week to at least 56 civilians.

Even within the relatively calm capital, signs of tension are everywhere.

Driving through the city’s central Merjeh Square on a Friday, the usual day of pro-democracy protests, security men loiter on the street corners, dressed in riot gear and carrying batons. Plain-clothed intelligence men – the Mukhabarat – wait in buses with clubs and guns.

Others, drawn from the state’s large civil service, are sent to the city’s mosques to mix with worshippers and shout pro-regime slogans at the end of Friday prayers. More wait outside, ready to disperse any demonstrations as soon as they begin.

The regime is anxious to make sure protests do not spread to the capital. The middle classes and business community have benefited from the limited economic reforms introduced by Mr Assad since he took over in 2000 and still prefer stability, even if under a repressive regime.

“The regime knows that if they lose Damascus they are finished,” says Samir, a 30-year-old protester in the capital, who speaks in hushed tones in a quiet café. Mobile phones are switched off in case they are bugged and suspicious glances are cast at men sitting on neighbouring tables.

But the regime may already be too late. Barely half a mile from the city centre, thousands of people have taken to the streets in the middle class district of Midan every Friday since early April. “People from all walks of life and from all parts of the city are coming to Midan to protest,” says Samir. Youths and middle class doctors mix with Midan locals, he says, and the crackdown elsewhere in the city means numbers in Midan are growing…..

Business reluctant to cut loose from Assad
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Beirut June 2 2011 20:05 | Financial Times

The Syrian business community’s passive approach to the popular protest movement against the ruling Ba’ath party is depriving the uprising of crucial support that could help secure the overthrow of the regime, analysts say.

Many assert that as long as businessmen in Aleppo and Damascus, the industrial and commercial hubs, do not join the opposition the regime will continue to believe it will survive with a brutal crackdown.

“The . . . business community has long been attached to the regime because there aren’t lots of economic opportunities outside the government,” said Marcus Marktanner, a professor of economics at the American University of Beirut.

The limited economic reforms introduced since Bashar al-Assad inherited power from his father in 2000 have not radically changed the socialist-style economy, burdened by a complex bureaucracy and laws unfriendly to foreign investment.

But businesses involved in textiles – the country’s leading industry, two-thirds of which is based in Aleppo – food processing, car trading and electronics have benefited from government credits and trade privileges in recent years.

Lahcen Achy, a scholar at Carnegie Middle East Center, said the textile and garment sector had received government assistance. “They are now waiting to see what will happen and do not want to lose the regime support,” he added.

Analysts say the reforms have created an imbalance, leaving out rural areas and urban suburbs while a new wealthy class directly or indirectly linked to the regime has benefited.

The sense of deprivation has been exacerbated by an increase in global food prices and the country’s severe drought which has shrunk the share of agriculture in gross domestic product from 24.2 per cent in 2006 to 17.1 per cent in 2010, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Some of the towns most hit by the drought have been bastions of pro- democracy protests, including Deraa in the south, Deir Ezzor in the east and Banias and Al-Hasakah in the north-east.

“With the increase in food prices, the Syrian emperor was seen naked,” said Mr Marktanner. “People who have serious problems in feeding their families know food prices won’t go down and the regime cannot do anything about it.”

Syrians have watched more overt signs of wealth appear in the capital and in Aleppo in the form of luxury cars and international clothing brands.

The business community has also been frustrated by the regime’s intervention in economic activities and the Assad family’s growing monopoly on big projects. One of the first places that protesters in Deraa, the flashpoint of unrest, burnt down was SyriaTel, the country’s leading mobile telecommunications company run by Rami Makhlouf, a tycoon and cousin of the president.

But businessmen still appear to value the political stability that the Assad family has brought since the 1970s. The regime’s argument that the alternative to secular rule will be Salafists, radical Sunni Muslims, seems to have worked well so far in keeping business in check.

“Syrian businessmen think a fall of the regime in Syria is closer to the Libyan or Iraq scenarios than Tunisian or Egyptian scenarios while alternatives to the status quo remain unclear,” said one analyst.

Clinton: World should toughen up on Syria
By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States implored hesitant Arab countries and U.N. powers Russia and China to join the international condemnation of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, saying Thursday that they would be better off “on the right side of history.”

Repeating the president’s ultimatum of last month that Assad should either lead a reform process or leave power, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Syrian leader was clearly blowing his chance by pressing on with a brutal crackdown on demonstrators and political opponents.

Expectations that his government can change are “if not gone, nearly run out,” she said in Washington.

Egypt’s Christians Fear Violence as Changes Embolden Islamists
The New York Times, By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, May 30, 2011

A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo — 24 dead, more than 200 wounded and three churches in flames since President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolution’s stability. But it is also a pivotal test of Egypt’s tolerance, pluralism and the rule of law. The revolution has empowered the majority but also opened new questions about the protection of minority rights like freedom of religion or expression as Islamist groups step forward to lay out their agendas and test their political might.

Around the region, Christians are also closely watching events in Syria, where as in Egypt Christians and other minorities received the protection of a secular dictator, Bashar al-Assad, now facing his own popular uprising.

“The Copts are the crucial test case,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch here, adding that facing off against “societal pressures” may in some ways be ever harder than criticizing a dictator. “It is the next big battle.”

But so far, there is little encouragement in the debate over how to address the sectarian strife. Instead of searching for common ground, all sides are pointing fingers of blame while almost no one is addressing the underlying reasons for the strife, including a legal framework that treats Muslims and Christians differently.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the 80 million Egyptians, say the revolution has plunged them into uncharted territory. Suppressed or marginalized for six decades here, Islamists entering politics have rushed to defend an article of the Egyptian Constitution that declares Egypt a Muslim country that derives its laws from Islam. Christians and liberals say privately they abhor the provision, which was first added as a populist gesture by President Anwar el-Sadat. But the article is so popular among Muslims — and the meaning so vague — that even many liberals and Christians entering politics are reluctant to speak out against it, asking at most for slight modifications.

“Our position is that it should stay, but a clause should be added so that in personal issues non-Muslims are subject to the rules of their own religion,”….

many liberals argue the sectarian conflicts prove Egypt should establish a permanent “bill of rights” to protect religious and personal freedoms before holding elections that could give power to an Islamist majority. It would “remove the sense of angst that exists today in Egypt,” said a spokeswoman for Mohamed ElBaradei, a liberal presidential contender.

Comments (145)


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101. Syria no kandahar said:

Revlun
Congratulation you have civilized the west,may be you can start charging them for using Allah Akbar.you can start introducing things similar to :علويه بالتابوت مسيحيه عابييروتyou think it will sell?

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:02 am

 

102. HS said:

Here a transcript ( edited for comprehension ) of live Twitter messages posted by @ProfKahf who attended the Antalya conference
http://twitter.com/#!/ProfKahf
Poet, Syrian American academic
http://english.uark.edu/Faculty/Mohja_Kahf.php

Start of transcript ______________

Antalya conference is electing a 31-member workgroup to continue coordination among the conference workshops.

Will the “Tribe List” or the “Kid List” win the vote-who to continue Antalya conference work?

Antalya conference :
List 1 includes Ikhwan , Kurdish , Christian , Alawite , human rights organization chiefs
List 2: includes new names , emerging activists

It’s just a vote for a conference workgroup,nothing more,but it was a thrill anyway

Lists were compiled and you voted for the Whole Shebang ( one list or the other ).
total votes 253: List1 : 203; List 50 .
Immediate breakdown ,with color pie graphics projected on Antalya conference hall screen.

Oddly, some folks found out they were on a List just 5 minutes before the vote (eg. me , Mariam Jalabi).
Antalya conference Sloppy process

Mariam & I were on (losing) Kid List.
Goodwill all’round .Khawla Yusef, Sondos Soleiman, Melhem Drooby, Ammar Qurabi, on winning list

Young activsts were promised 10 seats
List1 ended up with only 3 , including @Mohammad_Syria who withdrew to protest level of youth inclusion

AND again, it’s only a conference WORK group. The young gen’ers were saying “ we are who will end up doing the actual work anyway”

You know, people are always gonna say stuff like this when you have a conference .and If you don’t have it, you’re also damned.

Beauty vibes , solidarity (which is not the same as no diffs) predominate at this conference ,despite differences.

New blood @ Antalya #Syria conference, says
“ Regarding List 1: Fine , let well-known “Opposition Faces” be the slap to the regime ; we will do the work.”

End of transcript ____________________

Curiously, the word of Ikhwan is used instead of the short MB ( Muslims Brothers ).

It sounds like the “losing” young activists are starting to understand that the old sectarians are “winning” and that they have been manipulated with methods and practices which are not really democratic.

This self called Democratic Revolution in Syria is doomed to exclude the young activists when they will be no longer useful and it will end up with a sectarian State replacing the actual secular one.

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:18 am

 

103. Syrian knight said:

To the clown who thinks that people have to be forced to demonstrate support for the president, and that only “AK47-wielding thugs” actually support him,

There are dozens and dozens of videos out there showing hundreds of thousands , and even millions of people demonstrating support for the president. None of them are thugs wielding AK47s. My family in Syria join these demonstrations, and they are not forced to do so. Stop lying.

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:23 am

 

104. N.Z. said:

Hama…

Fifty Hamwis massacred in one day. The children of the eighties are in full confrontation… after 30 years of the despicable massacre, same agenda and same audacity.

The horrific stories we heard, did not see, still haunts us. Good will prevail, and evil will be defeated and go down in history with the likes of all mass murderer. Like father like son. This time the outcome will be different.

This same brutality that kept the Assad mafia in power for forty years will bring them down, this time around.

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:34 am

 

105. Shami said:

Thank for some scums here for showing us your minority syndrom that has been translated to a criminal behavior.
Shame on you and your menhebak khanzeer !

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:37 am

 

106. syau said:

Michel Chossudovsky – Director, centre for research on globalisation- on Libya:“At this stage, NATO in consultation with the Pentagon is preparing a new phase of this war – a process of military escalation”…….So much for Obama’s speech regarding “No boots on the ground”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WtyD1Njr9c&feature=youtu.be

On Syria: “Any kind of intervention in Syria would also be a derogation of international law”and “Armed insurgency was supported and financed by foreign powers, it’s well documented”. min. 4:19 onwards.

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:37 am

 

107. Syria no kandahar said:

NZ
(the children of the eighties)? I guess we should expect to see them in power,you think they will take us back to the eighties or to the ice ages?
They will have very constructive agenda I bit.

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:45 am

 

108. Syrian knight said:

You sectarian pigs are going to pay dearly after this is over and the president is still presiding over the nation. Anyone who calls what happened in Hama in 1982 a ‘travesty’ is the real sectarian criminal with clear Islamist agendas. The government kicked your Allahu Akbaring asses 30 years ago, and they will do it again, with the full support of the Syrian people you pretend to represent.

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June 3rd, 2011, 10:58 am

 

109. HS said:

Al Azem

With reference to your article :
” According to some, Amr al-Azm (son of Sadiq) Amr Miqdad (presumably from the large Deraa family), and Muhammad al-Abdullah all played an important role in mediating and facilitating the discussion. They worked very hard to get the secular statement accepted.”

Amr Al-Azm, a Syrian-American history professor from Shawnee State University in Ohio.

Khalid al-Azm (1903-1965) (Arabic: خالد العظم‎) was a Syrian national leader and six-time Prime Minister, as well as Acting President (April 4 – September 16, 1941). He was a member of one of the most prominent political families in Syria, al-Azm (also known as Alazem or Al Azem), and the son of an Ottoman minister of religious affairs.

Saad Hariri is married to Lara Al-Azem .

a very “large Deraa family” indeed

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:00 am

 

110. N.Z. said:

Is this regime forever? Is living in fear forever!!

Clowns are no other than those clapping and praising dictators. Clowns are those who idolize a family, carrying their posters and casting their grin.

A president is there to serve his country and people, not to kill and suppress on behalf of his masters.

Ask Maher Arrar, a Syrian Canadian who was send to Damascus to be tortured on behalf of the USA.

It is not you vs. us, we are together for a better future. A future were we can live with dignity and freedom, free from tyranny, corruption and oppression. Where we all live equally under the rule of law, not the rule of Assad.

Another Hama, in every part of Syria. Martyrs in the hundreds, wounded in the thousands. Torturing and beatings countless and you still want to support this mafia?

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:07 am

 

111. syau said:

#105,

“A president is there to serve his country and people, not to kill and suppress on behalf of his masters”

That statement refers to Bush and Obama.

People are supposed to live in their country in peace, not take up arms, betray their country and proceed with a violent revolution full of murder, destruction and fabrication. They are not there to call on the international community to intervene. They are not there to pawn the lives of millions of people to further their agenda. They are not supposed to be co consipirators with enemies of their countries. They are not there to ruin the countries economy or terrorise fellow citizens.

They demanded reforms, their demands were heard and being implemented. They are not there to continue with violence regardless.

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:20 am

 

112. Syrian knight said:

Don’t you dare include me in your “Us.” I am not part of you or your Islamist club. There is no dignity or freedom among the likes of you. Those who prostitute the deaths of Syrians for a political agenda against a well-loved government are not people. They are the same beings who ignore the deaths carried out by your ‘freedom fighters,’ ie, the brutal deaths of children that go unreported, the decapitation of police officers, the rape and killing of young girls for not joining the terrorist revolution, the murder of people simply for following another faith. Those people, who you call thugs and menaces, who support the government, are 23,000,000 people. You are spitting on the very people of Syria for not supporting Islamism and radical foreign policies of Western nations. Strange how the people who purportedly support freedom and democracy, are the same people who ignore the opinions of millions of Syrians who have different opinions from your own, and are killed for it. You’re not Syrian; you’re garbage. And if the government has to kill 30,000 of you Islamist terrorists so that the rest of the 23,000,000 of us can live peaceful, then so be it. You cannot rule any Arab country without an iron fist. That is the way you Islamists designed this region, and that is how we will rule you.

No to Sharia law! No to Islamism! No to foreign agendas! No to the removal of our secular and loved government! The Syrian people have spoken!

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:23 am

 

113. norman said:

The president and the government have to use the two cards they have and these are , multiparty system and canceling article 8 , if these moves do not calm the street then it is obvious as i think it is that the goal is the destruction of Syria, then they should re establish emergency law and the high court and hit hard everywhere, Syria can not be a religious state , separation might be better than living under Sharia laws.

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:26 am

 

114. syau said:

Reports emerging from Hama stating demonstrators are burning government buildings and cars, some are carrying weapons and shooting at the army, others are using children to prevent the security personnel from retaliating.

Only disgraceful people would take children to violent demonstrations and evil people would use them as human shields.

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:32 am

 

115. N.Z. said:

#106,

After March, only your likes can be herded into the pen.

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:42 am

 

116. N.Z. said:

#107, even the name you chose to post your comments under, is from a bygone era.

Wake up, remember we are in the 21st century. We are not living in the dark ages of Europe.

The End.

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:57 am

 

117. Syrian knight said:

You Islamists are the ones living in the Stone Age, idiot.

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June 3rd, 2011, 11:59 am

 

118. norman said:

I see that we are back in the time of insulting each other, I wonder how that is going to help.

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June 3rd, 2011, 12:25 pm

 

119. Akbar Palace said:

When Only One Person Speaks for Everyone

Norman,

Any news about the “amnesty” edict Bashar Assad announced a few days ago? How many people were released.

Syrian Knight said:

I am not part of you or your Islamist club.

Of the dozen or so youtube clips I’ve seen, I have not seen demonstrators with long beards, turbines, etc. The demonstrators look, typically like younger to middle-aged men wearing polo shirts and jeans. How do you know they are “islamist”?

Those who prostitute the deaths of Syrians for a political agenda against a well-loved government are not people.

How “well-loved” is the government? If what you are saying is true, an election with Assad winning would stop these protestors in their tracks.

They are the same beings who ignore the deaths carried out by your ‘freedom fighters,’ ie, the brutal deaths of children that go unreported, the decapitation of police officers, the rape and killing of young girls for not joining the terrorist revolution, the murder of people simply for following another faith.

Where is this information from? Have there been interviews with victims and their families?

Strange how the people who purportedly support freedom and democracy, are the same people who ignore the opinions of millions of Syrians who have different opinions from your own, and are killed for it.

“Opinions”? Whose opinion? How many? No one really knows. A vote would end this dispute.

You’re not Syrian; you’re garbage. And if the government has to kill 30,000 of you Islamist terrorists so that the rest of the 23,000,000 of us can live peaceful, then so be it.

This is beyond the pale. Why is freedom such a barrier to the Syrian government and its supporters?

You cannot rule any Arab country without an iron fist.

Some jews say that about the Palestinians. Does Israel get the same leeway you give your arab leaders? Why or why not?

No to Sharia law! No to Islamism!

Vote on it. Let the majority win.

No to foreign agendas! No to the removal of our secular and loved government! The Syrian people have spoken!

No, not really. Just you have.

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June 3rd, 2011, 12:29 pm

 

120. daleandersen said:

This from the Vogue Magazine article on Asma:

“The 35-year-old first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls ‘active citizenship.’…The Assad household is run on wildly democratic principles. ‘We all vote on what we want, and where,’ she says.”

http://www.seraphicpress.com/images/img-a-rose-in-the-desert_184635407363.jpg_article_singleimage%20%281%29.jpg

A totally normal totalitarian family, sort of like Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun. As for “active” citizenship. Well, Asma got her wish…

http://www.seraphicpress.com/archives/2011/03/vogue_magazine.php

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June 3rd, 2011, 12:41 pm

 

121. why-discuss said:

N.Z. said:

#107, even the name you chose to post your comments under, is from a bygone era.

What about yours : Number Zero?

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June 3rd, 2011, 1:02 pm

 

122. Moe said:

Missed some posts and news while traveling. Very interesting was Mrs. Clinton’s concern about the murdered Syrian child since her own Mr. Clinton was responsible for the death of approx 500,000 Iraqi children while imposing the infamous embargo in the Nineties.

Here are the full UNICEF findings

http://www.unicef.org/newsline/99pr29.htm

and here are some excerpts:

” The surveys reveal that in the south and center of Iraq — home to 85 per cent of the country’s population — under-5 mortality more than doubled from 56 deaths per 1000 live births (1984-1989) to 131 deaths per 1000 live births (1994-1999). Likewise infant mortality — defined as the death of children in their first year — increased from 47 per 1000 live births to 108 per 1000 live births within the same time frame. The surveys indicate a maternal mortality ratio in the south and center of 294 deaths per 100,000 live births over the ten-year period 1989 to 1999. ”

and

” if the substantial reduction in child mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children under-five in the country as a whole during the eight year period 1991 to 1998. As a partial explanation, she pointed to a March statement of the Security Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues which states: “Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war.”

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June 3rd, 2011, 1:04 pm

 

123. why-discuss said:

Scene of hysteria in Deraa burning Iran, China and Russian flags
Posted by Al Jazeera

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June 3rd, 2011, 1:11 pm

 

124. why-discuss said:

AP

Media complicity in rising xenophobia
(Applicable to others issues than emigration}

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/05/2011523111628194989.html

The increasing commercialisation of the mainstream media and the profit imperatives it imposes seem to be at the core of the lowering of quality in media coverage of migration related issues.

“We certainly need some transparency rules to see where the funding is coming from and what are the political groups involved,” Aidan White, former general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists told participants.

“There is a crisis within the media, a financial crisis that is reducing the quality of training, of journalism, and ultimately journalists’ capacity to tell complex stories.”

Demands of the industry

There is a harsh, competitive environment that is leading editors and journalists to violate codes of ethics. “If anti-immigration writing allows the media to stay in business, the media will go for it,” Milica Pesic, executive director of the UK-based Media Diversity Institute warned.

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June 3rd, 2011, 1:20 pm

 

125. Akbar Palace said:

WD,

That’s why multiple news sources is the best. With the internet, it’s pretty easy filtering through all the information. I think we all have a good understanding of the facts, yet, we still interpret things differently.

Scene of hysteria in Deraa burning Iran, China and Russian flags

You means it’s not the Zionist flag? I just saw a pig fly!

Moe,

The UN article you linked to didn’t even remotely suggest the deaths were caused by any embargo or Mrs. Clinton, especially since there was NO embargo of food and medicine.

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June 3rd, 2011, 2:05 pm

 

126. Murad said:

AP

You are incredibly ignorant. The program was called oil for food. That means embargo on food. It also affected medicine. In Syria, although we hated Saddam, we saw the pictures of the thousands of children in Iraqi hospitals suffering needlessly due to shortage of medicine. Oil for food was in reality oil for ANYTHING. It was a criminal program that only affected the people of Iraq and the leaders of all nations who voted for it in UNSC should be charged with crimes against humanity.

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June 3rd, 2011, 2:58 pm

 

127. SANDRO LOEWE said:

بشار الأسد يقود الإصلاح فعلا: يفرغ السجون ويملأ المقابر

لم تمر أيام قليلة على العفو العام الذي وقعه الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، حتى نفذت القوات الأمنية والعسكرية التي تأتمر به، مجزرة جديدة بحق عشرات السوريين، الذين ارتكبوا جرما لا يغتفر: المعارضة!
كان بشار الأسد، في السنوات السابقة يكتفي باعتقال معارضيه ووضعهم في السجون الى الأبد. تطور الرجل: أصبح يفضل قتلهم!
قبور ملأى، افضل من سجون مكتظة. مقابر جماعية “أرحم” من معتقلات أبدية!
فعلا ، بشار الأسد يقود الإصلاح!
فعلا، بشار الأسد يستمع الى النصائح!
عاشت الأمة العربية والإسلامية ، ففيها رؤساء يستحقون الخلود، في مزابل التاريخ!

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June 3rd, 2011, 3:04 pm

 

128. atassi said:

34 dead in assault on Syria protest
Bassem Mroue
4 June 2011
AAP Bulletins
English
© 2011 Australian Associated Press Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Syrian security forces opened fire during one of the largest anti-government protests so far in the 10-week uprising, and activists said at least 34 people were killed on Friday in the city of Hama, where thousands died in a failed 1982 revolt against the regime.

President Bashar Assad’s forces renewed their assault on towns seen as key to the demonstrations calling for an end to his family’s 40-year rule. The regime also cut Internet service across most of the country, a potentially dire blow for a movement that motivates people with graphic YouTube videos of the crackdown and loosely organises protests on Facebook pages.

The internet shutdown, if it continues, could also hamper the movement’s ability to reach the world outside Syria, where the government has severely restricted the media and expelled foreign reporters, making it nearly impossible to independently verify what is happening there.

Still many activists found alternate ways to log on and upload videos, such as satellite connections.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said tens of thousands of people were protesting in Hama when security forces opened fire. He said the Hama protest was among the largest yet in the uprising that began in mid-March.

He added that security forces shot dead one person in the village of Has in the northern province of Idlib.

“It is a real massacre. It is terrorism by itself and they want the people to stay silent,” said an activist in Hama.

The activist, who like many involved in the protests requested anonymity to avoid reprisals, said hospitals were calling on people to donate blood.

Syria’s state-run TV said three “saboteurs” were killed when police tried to stop them from setting a government building on fire in Hama. The Syrian government blames armed gangs and religious extremists for the violence.

In 1982, Assad’s father and predecessor Hafez Assad crushed a Sunni uprising by shelling Hama, killing 10,000 to 25,000 people, according to Amnesty International estimates.

As the Friday Muslim prayers ended, worshippers left the mosques and marched in cities, towns and villages. Syrian security forces dispersed some, mostly using batons, tear gas and water cannons and fired live ammunition in at least two locations in southern and northeastern towns.

Rights groups say more than 1100 people have been killed since the revolt against Assad erupted in mid-March.

An eyewitness in Hama reached by The Associated Press said there were around 150,000 demonstrators, an unprecedented number if confirmed. He described a chaotic scene, with security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition, and snipers shooting from the rooftops as people fled.

“There are many killed and wounded people, the hospital is full,” he said. “I fled the area but I can still hear sporadic gunfire.”

Syrian troops also pounded the central town of Rastan with artillery and gunfire for a seventh day, killing at least two people. The Local Coordination Committees, which helps organise and document Syria’s protests, says troops also opened fire on residents fleeing the town.

Friday’s deaths bring the toll in Rastan and nearby Talbiseh to 74 killed since last Saturday.

The opposition had called for Friday’s nationwide rallies to commemorate the nearly 30 children killed by Assad’s regime during the uprising.

In the southern city of Daraa, where the uprising began 10 weeks ago, scores of people rallied in the city’s old quarter, chanting “No dialogue with the killers of children”, an activist said.

The protesters were referring to a decree by Assad to set up a committee tasked with leading a national dialogue.

The regime also released hundreds of political prisoners this week after Assad issued a pardon. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said leading Kurdish politician Mashaal Tammo and Muhannad al-Hassani, who heads the Syrian Organisation for Human Rights, were released on Thursday.

Friday’s protests reached nearly throughout the country, from a village in the south to a city in the northeast. Protesters even gathered in several Damascus suburbs, though the capital has not seen the kind of disruption in many other cities.

Human rights activist Mustafa Osso said Syrian security forces opened fire on Friday at demonstrators in the southern village of Inkhil, but it was not clear if there were any casualties.

A Syrian activist said authorities cut Internet service in several parts of the country, apparently to prevent activists from uploading footage of the protests and the government crackdown and from organising new resistance. In Damascus, several people contacted over the phone said the Internet was down.

Video surfaced earlier this week on YouTube, Facebook and websites of Hamza al-Khatib, a 13-year-old boy whose tortured and mutilated body was returned to his family weeks after he disappeared during the protests.

The boy has since become a symbol to Syria’s uprising and many people carried his posters during anti-regime rallies this week.

Australian Associated Press Pty Ltd

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June 3rd, 2011, 4:45 pm

 

129. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Yesterday I had to go a village south of Damascus. I found moukhabarat points of control all along the road, specially at the airport intersections, some 4 or 5. In each one we were stopped and asked identification documents. No words and no questions about reasons of our trip. Most members of security apparatus on the road were youngsters 17-22 years old maximum, specially those with sofisticated weapons and all of them were ready to rush any car that do not respect the stop signal. It was impressing, even in Lebanon in the years inmediately after civil war I had never seen something similar. In general it was a peaceful trip but you feel that there is a state of war. All Assad´s soldiers are ready to kill as much as the situation requires. They are convinced that they are looking for terrorists or arms smugglers. And one has the feeling that any protest against their semi-god will be reduced by bullets.

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June 3rd, 2011, 4:51 pm

 

130. Atassi said:

Syrians Mass in Hama, Other Cities as State Cuts Internet
By Nour Malas in Antalya, Turkey, and Christopher Rhoads in New York
3 June 2011
The Wall Street Journal Online
WSJO
The Wall Street Journal – Print and Online

Syria’s government took new steps to pull the plug on persistent antiregime protests, cutting off most Internet and mobile data connections Friday as tens of thousands of people braved lethal consequences to participate in marches throughout the country.

Security forces killed at least 34 people in Hama, where activists said 50,000 or more people marched in the city’s largest protests yet. The march and several others across the country came a day after the U.S. and opposition activists raised the pressure on President Bashir al-Assad to stop the deadly crackdown on demonstrations.

Wrapping up meetings this week in the Turkish city Antalya, antiregime activists called on the president to step down immediately and elected an advisory body to help lead a support strategy for the street protest movement, giving further shape to the three-month-old uprising.

Internet services were cut off Friday in most parts of Syria’s largest cities, including Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama, leaving protesters without their prime means to plan demonstrations and report on the government’s response to them. Much of Syria’s street movement has been documented through accounts and camera-phone videos posted online.

Beginning at 6:35 a.m. Syria time Friday, about two-thirds of all Syrian networks were cut off from the global Internet, according to Renesys Corp., a firm in Manchester, N.H., that studies Internet traffic flows. Blocked networks included high-speed data connections for mobile phones used by ordinary citizens. Websites of the Syrian oil ministry and the government-owned telecommunications monopoly weren’t affected, according to Renesys.

A Syrian government-backed website confirmed the Internet had been shut down. The day’s move came in contrast to Syria’s decision in February to lift its 2007 ban on social networking sites, which allowed people to access websites including Facebook and YouTube for the first time without proxies.

Regimes in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain have tried to gain the upper hand over the recent, fast-moving demonstrations by unplugging or partially blocking the Internet. In some cases, most notably in Egypt, the action appeared to heighten the unrest by prompting more angry protesters into the streets.

“You are reaching a point of no return when you do this kind of stuff,” said Earl Zmijewski, a Renesys vice president.

Friday’s attacks on protestors appeared to be the deadliest in Hama, site of a deadly 1982 government attack on an Islamist uprising. The deaths came as security forces gunned down protesters coming out of two mosques after the Friday Islamic prayer, according to a doctor reached by satellite phone.

“There were no warning shots or tear gas this time—they just opened fire immediately and the first row of people dropped like flies,” the doctor said. He said the hospital where he worked was treating hundreds of injured, while security forces blocked access to another hospital in the city by surrounding it and opening fire on approaching cars.

Large demonstrations also emerged in Damascus and its sububs, the central city of Homs, in Qamishli and Deir ez-Zour in the northeast, Idlib in the northwest and three towns surrounding Deraa in the South, according to Ahmad al-Raad, an administrator of the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, who gathered witness testimonies by satellite phone.

Activists said three people were killed in al Rastan, north of Homs, and two in Idlib.

In the western coastal city of Banias, some 300 protesters marched out of two mosques, with security forces beating people and detaining most, a resident said by telephone. The protests followed Thursday’s release of 10 detainees there, including the head of the municipality, following a general amnesty for political prisoners called for by the president, the resident said.

Activists have largely shrugged off Mr. Assad’s amnesty announcement, which was followed by attacks by security forces and tanks on towns surrounding Homs and the southern town of Hirak. As Syria’s uprising moves past its third month, Mr. Assad appears to be repeating his early response to protests, wavering between deadly repression and offers of reform.

“It’s ink on paper,” said the resident of Banias, on a national dialogue committee set up by the president Wednesday that includes vice president Farouk al-Sharaa. “We’ve heard of committees and commitments before.”

In the Turkish coastal town of Antalya, some 300 activists elected their own committee, a 31-member advisory body to help direct and finance a support strategy for the protest movement. The body would in turn elect a nine-member committee to lead efforts on international diplomacy, logistical, legal and humanitarian support.

A group of the delegates, including rights activists and lawyers, will head from Turkey to the Hague to present what they say constitutes evidence for crimes against humanity by Mr. Assad to the International Criminal Court.

The three-day meeting’s closing statement, issued Thursday, called on Mr. Assad to step down immediately and hand over power, as dictated by the constitution, to Mr. al-Sharaa until a new constitution is drafted, a transitional national council is elected and democratic elections are set.

The activists, many participating in an electoral process for the first time and meeting opposition groups long separated by exile, disagreed on the potential role of religion in a new Syria, debating between whether they sought a “secular” or “civil” state. They deliberated intensely on the declaration’s wording, in the end crafting an assurance that the new constitution they sought would protect the rights of Syria’s multiple sects and ethnicities under a “civil state and a pluralistic, parliamentary and democratic regime.”

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, which made a last-minute strong showing at the meeting and is represented on the advisory body voted in by activists, had argued against calling for a secular state. Despite disagreements, and calls from Syrian dissidents inside the country that exiled activists couldn’t represent the opposition, the meeting was the first concrete step toward uniting the broad-based antiregime movement since the start of Syria’s uprising.

Activists agreed that protesters were determined to stay on the streets, despite a rising death toll estimated at more than 1,000 people, and the potential that Mr. Assad won’t step down even amid increased international or legal pressure.

“We know we’re in this for the long haul,” said one 24-year-old protest organizer who snuck into Turkey from Syria and said he is unlikely to be able to return. “It’s a matter of patience now.”

Write to Nour Malas at nour.malas@dowjones.com and Christopher Rhoads at christopher.rhoads@wsj.com

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June 3rd, 2011, 4:53 pm

 

131. jad said:

#129, How come you are able to write from Syria where there is no internet connection?

خدمة الانترنت تغيب عن كامل سوريا يوم الجمعة ..

شهدت سوريا يوم الجمعة انقطاعا تاما لخدمات الانترنت فيها على كافة المخدمات وبكل طرق الاتصال من خلال الخطوط الارضية والخليوية.

وتلقت سيريانيوز العديد من الاتصالات من كافة المناطق التي تؤكد انقطاع خدمة الانترنت فيها ، كما غابت الخدمة عن مكاتبها في دمشق وحلب واللاذقية كما غابت عن جميع المدن السورية بحسب مراسليها هناك.
وهذه المرة الاولى منذ بدء احداث الاحتجاجات التي تغيب الخدمة فيها ، فيما لم يتبين اذا كان السبب عطل فني ام انه اجراء متخذ لغايات امنية.
وفشلت محاولات سيريانيوز بالاتصال بالمعنين للوقوف على اسباب القطع.

سيريانيوز

2011-06-03 21:05:12

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:09 pm

 

132. SANDRO LOEWE said:

#131 I said yesterday. Not where I am now. Not today. Not Here. Not now. Variables Space-Time. Do you understand them? While you are so comfortably in a developed country getting profit, other people sacrify themselves or at least move and know what is really happening.

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:14 pm

 

133. Syrian knight said:

What happened? Earlier today I was reading that at least 50 people, and possibly dozens more, were killed today. Now the number has dropped to 34? Are the con artists running out of bodies to show? Maybe they can dig up some of the old ones and pretend that they are newly-killed people in anticipation for next Friday’s Islamic protest.

In any case, Hama, huh… You would think that the Muslim Brotherhood would have learned by now. Well, hopefully we don’t have to have a repeat of what the terrorists brought upon their own city in 1982, but if that is what has to be done, then I fully support the effort, I expect to stand in one end of the city, and be able to see the opposite end of it. Then maybe the Muslim Brotherhood will try again in 30 years, When Hafez al-Assad is the new president of Syria.

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:15 pm

 

134. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The Children’s Freedom Friday drew more protesters to the streets, than any previous Friday. Try to deny it. The protest intensifies to the dismay of this junta. I would like to ask Bouthaina from her hiding place, whether she still thinks the regime has the upper hand. This shooting on people becomes surreal. What good do they think can come out of it? For them? for the people? for the future of this junta? did they lose their ability to think? what motivates them now? revenge? fear? hysteria? madness? panic?
.

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:25 pm

 

135. jad said:

#132, Did I hit your ‘lie’ nerve or something.
“other people sacrify themselves” That means you? What a genuine hero!
BTW, The youngest soldier/security person in Syria is 18 not 17 as you wrote.

SN,
On Aljazeera the number of Syrians we lost in Hama alone today is 25

http://aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A5A9DE55-0BC6-409D-9C1D-2ED38CCBC920.htm?GoogleStatID=1

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:28 pm

 

136. majedkhaldoon said:

Syrian knight said:
” When Hafez al-Assad is the new president of Syria.”
Hopefully it will be this year.
You want to level Hama,destroy it all,you are saying that you want to kill all the people in Hama,There is no sense having dialogue with people like you.
First the name is SNP,then it changed to Sourie,then sourie 333,now it is different name, what are you hiding in changing your name a lot?

Another massacre on friday,over fifty syrian died,The violence could not be blamed on the people , the intransigence and arrogance of the regime,is the cause, the people want freedom,they have full right to ask to be free,,the regime is the one who is depriving them from their freedom, it is God given right,The false security , the dictators say they provide,is now showing that was false security it was not real,the violence is due to oppression,the people will explode after a while, and that is what they did
Bashar wants to talk to the Kurd,they should refuse, no talk to dictator,he must go, he and his family and the one support them,

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:43 pm

 

137. Syrian knight said:

Al Jazeera said 25? They are usually the type of organization that doubles the highest estimate. Their Syria coverage has been terribly biased and full of lies

MajnoonKhaldoon,

I am neither of those people. You Islamists have shown that you are not worth talking to. Every time the president gives into your demands, you move the goal posts and make up completely new goals so you can keep on protesting. All you want is Sunni Islamic domination of Syria. You are con artists, and the people of Syria know it.

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June 3rd, 2011, 5:49 pm

 

138. Sophia said:

Dear Jad,

It seems that lying is a common feature in the comment section of this blog. Please have a look at the follwowing (I know that others don’t, they are not interested in reading but in writing their rigid opinions unsullied by facts over and over…)

An interesting link over at FLC on Kerry and Assad.

http://friday-lunch-club.blogspot.com/2011/06/senior-us-official-assad-probably-has.html

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June 3rd, 2011, 6:23 pm

 

139. syau said:

According to Syria-news.com there has been a cessation in army activity in Rastan as armed gangs have surrendered to army personnel.

http://syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=133348

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June 3rd, 2011, 7:18 pm

 

140. Mohamed kanj said:

Can someone please tell me how the opposition plans to overthrow the current syrian government and it’s president ? I just cannot see it happening. Their is absolutely no momentum with these protests. They are only able to gather together I’n large numbers on Fridays. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia they protested and gathered 7days a week . Their is and will never be any support from the Syrian army. Their hasn’t been any detections from government ministers. They still have no been able to gain support from the upper and middle class Sunnis ; christians; alawites;druze;kurds. It is impossible. Are they just going to keep on protesting every Friday after prayer and keep repeating the same chants And
slogans. they are brainwashed zombies with no objective or right minded clear goals

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June 3rd, 2011, 9:45 pm

 

141. Game On; The Opposition is Back | Syria said:

[...] out the Syria Comment page for good coverage of the meeting here and here; also try here and [...]

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June 4th, 2011, 12:47 am

 

142. A new opposition for Syria | Fadwa al-Hatem — War & Peace in the Middle East said:

[...] and a vision for a post-Assad democratic Syria. Most worryingly, the Brotherhood remained quite staunch in its opposition to a secular future government, and only gave its consent much later in the [...]

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June 7th, 2011, 6:32 am

 

143. Syria: A Way Forward said:

[...] little political maturity and are perceived – despite the efforts of a few emerging leaders to say all the right things – to have a vision for the country derived only from anger [...]

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July 3rd, 2011, 12:48 am

 

144. Syria Freedom Runners said:

[...] activists have shown little political maturity and are perceived – despite the efforts of a few emerging leaders to say all the right things – to have a vision for the country derived only from anger towards [...]

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July 5th, 2011, 5:43 pm

 

145. Syria Comment » Archives » Syrians Scared and Angered by Sectarian Fighting said:

[...] is the flash point. The Istanbul Opposition Conference selected a leadership different from the Antalya conference six weeks earlier. Lack of unity among the opposition threatens to lead the uprising astray even as it accuses the [...]

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July 19th, 2011, 11:01 pm

 

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