Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
As Syria Activists Scatter, Exiled Opponents to Meet
BY NOUR MALAS
Syria pressed its military crackdown against protesters and arrested hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb Monday, spurring exiled Syrian opposition members to take new moves to help steer the antiregime movement.
Exiled opposition members are planning to gather regime opponents in Cairo this month, several of these people said Monday. Organizers said the conference, which is being planned with input from opposition and civil-society members inside Syria, will gather people from across the political spectrum, including activists affiliated with the country’s banned Muslim Brotherhood.
The plan comes as Syria’s countrywide detention campaign has sent activists who aren’t in …
Syria’s crimes against humanity will be presented to the United Nations next week by Radwan Ziadeh, who announced the Cairo meeting of the Syrian opposition in Cairo. He is teaching at George Washington Univ this year. Here is the Youtube of it by Radwan.
رضوان زيادة : نعمل على اعداد ادلة للمحمكمة الدوليةا
Syria Proclaims It Now Has Upper Hand Over Uprising
By ANTHONY SHADID, May 9, 2011, New York Times
DAMASCUS, Syria — The Syrian government has gained the upper hand over a seven-week uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, a senior official declared Monday, in the clearest sign yet that the leadership believes its crackdown will crush protests that have begun to falter in the face of hundreds of deaths and mass arrests.
The remarks by Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Mr. Assad who often serves as an official spokeswoman, suggested that a government accustomed to adapting in the face of crises was prepared to weather international condemnation and sanctions. Her confidence came in stark contrast to appearances just two weeks ago, when the government seemed to stagger before the breadth and resilience of protests in dozens of towns and cities.
“I hope we are witnessing the end of the story,” she said in an hourlong interview, for which a reporter was allowed in Syria for only a few hours. “I think now we’ve passed the most dangerous moment. I hope so, I think so.” ……. [Anthony has put in several paras of regime repression here]
Ms. Shaaban said nearly 100 soldiers and members of security forces were also killed by armed militants, whom she accused of manipulating “the legitimate demands of the people.” While administration officials in the United States and even some activists have acknowledged that some protesters have resorted to arms, they call them a minority.
Ms. Shaaban said, “We think these people are a combination of fundamentalists, extremists, smugglers, people who are ex-convicts and are being used to make trouble.”
She added later, “You can’t be very nice to people who are leading an armed rebellion, in a sense,” while acknowledging they were not the only factor in the tumult. In a sign that the government remained uncertain over the nature of the uprising, she declined to specify who was behind them, saying only that officials were still investigating.
Administration officials have said that Ms. Shaaban and Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa have seemed more receptive to calls for reform, though their influence appears to pale before more aggressive voices in the ruling elite, particularly Mr. Assad’s brother Maher, who heads the elite Republican Guard and Fourth Division.
Ms. Shaaban said she had been asked to open talks with dissidents. Last week, she said, she met with Michel Kilo, Aref Dalila, Salim Kheirbek and Louay Hussein, all veteran activists, and held out the prospect of a freer press, political parties and an electoral law.
She called it the start of a national dialogue, although some in the opposition have branded it an insincere effort to simply co-opt as many of them as possible. “In the next week or so, we will broaden it,” Ms. Shaaban said.
“We want to use what happened to Syria as an opportunity,” she added. “We see it as an opportunity to try to move forward on many levels, especially the political level.”
President Assad has long frustrated allies and even foes by promising reforms, then seeming unable or unwilling to carry them out. Despite Ms. Shaaban’s promises, one administration official contended that the government was still fighting for its survival. Even if it wins the upper hand, the official suggested, any change would prove limited.
“Assad is not capable of implementing these reforms,” the official said. “He’s not capable. He knows that if he did, it would be the end of him. He would fall.”
But in contrast to Libya, where the United States insists that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi step down, American officials have simply repeated calls for Mr. Assad to meet popular demands, and Ms. Shaaban’s outreach seemed aimed at addressing some calls for change. But even if the government fails to placate the opposition, she suggested that international condemnation had so far been muted.
She described the statements from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as “not too bad” and said that the sanctions themselves — imposed by the United States last month and the European Union this week — were manageable.
“This is a weapon used against us many times,” she said. “Once security is back, everything can be arranged. We’re not going to live in this crisis forever.”
Syrian President Lays New Economic Track - Syria Report
The Syrian Government plans to finance its expenses by increasing its deficit and to review free trade agreements signed with partner countries, according to the Syrian President, who gave the first hints of what Syria’s future economic policy will be during a meeting with business representatives.
In a talk with a business delegation from Damascus on Tuesday 3 May, Mr Al-Assad reportedly said that “during the coming period we will protect the local industry and review trade agreements that have helped dumping practices” from other countries. The Syrian President’s words were published by Al-Watan, a local daily.
He also told the delegation, whom he met for some 3 hours, that the budget deficit could be financed by increasing the budget deficit and that this would not impact the economy “because Syria has among the lowest budget deficits in the world and has no foreign debt.”
Syria’s trade liberalisation policies have seen it sign two major free trade area agreements in the last decade: one involving almost all member states of the Arab League, under the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), which entered fully in force in 2005, and the other with Turkey, starting 2007.
Both involved the scrapping of almost all customs tariffs barriers, although in the case of Turkey, customs tariffs continue to be applied on Turkish imports albeit on a gradually declining scale until they are fully lifted in 2019.
An association agreement to be signed with the European Union and that encompasses a bilateral free trade area has also been initialled although it has not yet been signed.
The liberalization of the country’s foreign trade has often been decried by manufacturers and analysts for having been conducted too swiftly and with little regards for the interests of local producers…..
Mr Al-Assad did not say how his Government planned to apply any change it may want to impose on its bilateral and multilateral trade agreements……
Syria’s economy should shrink by as much as 3 percent this year, while the budget and current account deficits will further deteriorate this year and next, according to one of the first assessments of the impact on the economy of the current unrest gripping Syria and the Middle East.
These new forecasts were published last week in a paper by the International Institute of Finance. The paper attempted to assess the short-term economic impact of the unrest around the region under the title “The Arab World in Transition: Assessing the Economic Impact.” The IIF is a global association of banks and financial institutions.
Among all Arab countries surveyed in the report – 17 in total – Syria is one of only 4 projected to see a decline in economic activity this year –the others being Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia. Only Yemen, with a contraction of 4.5 percent, will witness a steeper decline.
In 2012, the Syrian economy is expected to grow again, although by only 2 percent, the lowest rate across the region.
Syria’s current account is also projected to decline this year to 5.4 percent of GDP from 4.5 percent last year, on the back of “a sharp drop in earnings from tourism.” The current account deficit as a percentage of GDP will, however, be smaller than in Jordan, Lebanon or Tunisia.
Meanwhile, inflation is expected to jump to 8 percent in 2011, while the budget deficit should rise to 5 percent of GDP from an estimated 3.1 percent last year.
مفتي درعا يعود عن استقالته
ذكر التلفزيون السوري أن مفتي درعا الشيخ رزق عبد الرحيم أبا زيد عاد عن استقالته التي قدمها في وقت سابق دون ذكر تفاصيل.
وكان المفتي أبا زيد قد قدم استقالته احتجاجاً على أحداث درعا الأخيرة
A New Committee to Fight Corruption has been appointed with twelve member named below.
بدأت لجنة مكافحة الفساد أول اجتماعاتها لصياغة برنامج عملها برئاسة القاضي محمد الغفري،كما جاء بموقع الاقتصادي. وأوضح الغفري أن اللجنة استعرضت المهام الموكلة إليها وفق ما نص عليه القرار وجرى نقاش حول إعداد مخطط بحث لكل مهمة من المهام المذكورة تمهيداً للانتقال إلى بحثها بشكل مفصل في الاجتماعات القادمة وسيكون اجتماعها القادم بعد يومين.
وأشار الغفري إلى أن اللجنة مؤلفة من 13 شخصاً بمن فيهم رئيس اللجنة وتضم عدداً من الأساتذة القضاة وأساتذة الجامعات والأساتذة المحامين وهم: القاضي محمد الغفري رئيساً – وعضوية كل من: نجم الاحمد – فارس سطوف – احسان خيو – عامر الحموي – عبود السراج – حسام الصفدي – ابراهيم المالكي – محمد أديب الحسيني – نزار عرابي – غالب عنيز – عادل ميني – لوقا لوقا.
Draft of new Administrative law. مسودة مشروع قانون الإدارة المحلية على موقع سورية التشاركية والأمانة العامة لمجلس الوزراء تدعو لإبداء المقترحات والملاحظات عليه لإغنائه The government asks for public input…
Syrian forces use soccer stadiums as prisons, human rights groups say
9 May 2011
The hunger to come in Egypt
By Spengler in Asia Times
Egypt is running out of food, and, more gradually, running out of money with which to buy it. The most populous country in the Arab world shows all the symptoms of national bankruptcy – the kind that produced hyperinflation in several Latin American countries during the 1970s and 1980s – with a deadly difference: Egypt imports half its wheat, and the collapse of its external credit means starvation.
The civil violence we have seen over the past few days foreshadows far worse to come. The Arab uprisings began against a background of food insecurity, as rising demand from Asia priced the Arab poor out of the grain market (Food and failed Arab states, Asia Times Online February 2, 2011). The chaotic political response, though, threatens to disrupt food supplies in the relative near term. Street violence will become the norm rather than the exception in Egyptian politics. All the discussion about Egypt’s future political model and its prospective relations with Israel will be overshadowed by the country’s inability to feed itself.
Egypt’s political problems – violence against Coptic Christians, the resurgence of Islamism, and saber-rattling at Israel, for example – are not symptoms of economic failure. They have a life of their own. But even Islamists have to eat, and whatever political scenarios that the radical wing of Egyptian politic might envision will be aborted by hunger.
The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming “revolutionary committees” to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who “charge more than the price prescribed by law”, the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.
According to the ministry, “Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices” and “people’s committees” are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country’s central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.
The collapse of Egypt’s credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country’s Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of “an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils”. According to the country’s statistics agency, only a month’s supply of rice is on hand, and four months’ supply of wheat.
The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt’s currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.
At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.
Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year’s levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year. ….
According to the daily al-Ahram, hoarding of rice by wholesalers has pushed up the price of the grain by 35% this year, while 200 containers per day are sold to Turkey and Syria.
“What is happening,” the newspaper claims, is that that traders are storing basic items such as rice and barley, hoarded in barns and in large quantities, and are reluctant to send it to the rice mills in order to raise the price of this strategic commodity”. The al-Ahram report, headlined, “Conspiracy to Monopolize Rice,” demands physical inspection of containers leaving Egyptian ports.
The rest of the story is predictable. Once the government relies on young men with guns to police its merchants, hoarding will only get worse. The Egyptian revolution has cracked down on the commercial elite that ran the country’s economy for the past 60 years, and the elite will find ways to transfer as much of its wealth to safety as it can. The normal chain of distribution will break down and “revolutionary committees” will take control of increasingly scarce supplies. Farmers won’t get fuel and fertilizer, and domestic supplies will fail.
The Egyptian government will go to the International Monetary Fund and other aid agencies for loans – the government reportedly will ask for $7 billion to tide things over – and foreign money at best will buy a few months’ respite. The currency will collapse; the government will print IOUs to tide things over; and the Egyptian street will reject the IOUs as the country reverts to barter.
Revolutions don’t only kill their children. They kill a great many ordinary people. The 1921 famine after the Russian civil war killed an estimated five million people, and casualties on the same scale are quite possible in Egypt as well. Half of Egyptians live on $2 a day, and that $2 is about to collapse along with the national currency,…
By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 4:00 PM on 9th May 2011 The glamorous wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is believed to have been living in London with their three children after fleeing the turmoil in her homeland. According to Arab …
Asma al-Assad is not in London. This Story is not true according to good sources.
Ghassan Ben Jeddo interview in a Tunisian paper
غسان بن جدو: الرئيس الأسد أخبرني أنه جاد بالإصلاحات.. وسقوط النظام السوري “مغامرة انتحارية”
He is convinced Assad will carry out reforms and that the opposition is driven mostly by an outside conspiracy against Syria
The Syrian regime has visited the cruelest punishment on both ordinary people and intellectuals. Faraj Bayrakdar, a Syrian poet who spent more than13 years in jail for his beliefs, offers a rare picture of a father’s pain in his essay in Al Jadid magazine, “A Father to the Point of Tears.” Omar Amirlay, who passed away from a heart attack few months ago, was one of the best Syrian documentary filmmakers, directing more than 20 documentaries, with hardly one or two of them allowed to be shown in Syria. The article below, by Mohammed Ali Atassi, which was also published in Al Jadid, reveals a lot about how Baathist Syria treats its creative people. Meanwhile, the Assad apologists, at home and abroad, continue to blame Arab and Western media as well as outside powers for the popular unrest. Also below are two interviews by two of the most prominent Syrian prisoners of conscience, Faraj Bayrakdar and Riyadh al-Turk, and a third essay by Mohammed Ali Atassi, “The Other Prison,” all three take us on a rare tour of Hafez and Bashar al-Assad’s prisons. Unfortunately, there are still those, many of whom are genuine progressives, who still cannot see this cruel face of the Syrian regime and go as far as making apologies for its torture and repression. The pain inflicted upon decent courageous and progressive Syrians like Michel Kilo, Fayez Sara (who was arrested during the recent uprising) and Riyadh Seif, arrested few days ago, and the tens of thousands of Syrians who have marched in almost every major Syrian city and with more than 800 paid with their lives, speak volumes of the cruel nature of the Assad regime! –Elie Chalala
Riyadh al-Turk: In and Out of Syrian Prison, by MOHAMMAD ALI ATASSI
Words Behind Bars–Syrian Poet Faraj Bairqadar Speaks after 14 Years of Detention, by Mohammed Ali Atassi.
We all know beyond a doubt that reforms are needed in Syria in all sectors. We know things could and should be better, but not by using the force of violence and destruction. When the safety, security and future of Syria in the balance, I stop my demands and greed until it is safe. This is real love and commitment. Some of the comments out there about Syria and the president are so distasteful, scary and viscous, make you want to disappear from earth. So yes I chose Syria over empty logos with little meaning at the moment. History will be made if Syria can be saved from this circle of violence and if the ambitions of the US, friends and allies are crushed in the Middle East for the first time. the future will tell. God bless Syria. God bless Syrians.
Everyone is against the violence. There are millions of people in Syria afraid to go out on the streets. If they are not demonstrating does not mean that they are pro-government. What do you mean the protesters are willing to do “ANYTHING?” What have they done so far?? It is the security forces shooting them down and jailing thousands of them! How can you have thousands of terrorists!? Why do they cut off water and electricity before besieging a city with tanks? There are LITTLE KIDS in those cities that are being terrorized! Guess by who!? Did you know that there are between 13 and 18 branches of Security. Each branch takes their orders from a different person. I am not making this up. A relative of mine was imprisoned in Syria by “Amn el marakazi,” when he was released he was imprisoned by the “mukhabarat al jawwyi” just to simply to find out why the “Amn el markazi” jailed him and whether they had more information on him than the “mukhabarat el jawwyi!” They don’t even share information with each other! It is a MAD HOUSE! It is corrupt! How can there even be talk of “Evolution?” How do you evolve when thugs run the country? Who do you talk to? Biggest proof is that after the president with good intentions released emergency law in Syria, northing was implemented! People are now saying please RETURN emergency law! Unfortunately, it will take a lot to take out these corrupt thugs. A revolution might be the only solution in Syria. It is not Egypt, the Army and thousands of security forces will all fight the people to stay in power. Things will never change if people don’t take advantage of this moment. Something big needs to happen. Bashar needs to do something big, that is the only way Syria will be spared the bloodshed.”
Monday, May 09, 2011 11:33 AM
Syria death toll rises as city is placed under siege
At least 48 people have been killed in Syria by the security forces in the last four days, local and international human rights activists have told Amnesty International, as the crackdown on the coastal city of Banias intensified.
More than 350 people – including 48 women and a 10-year-old child – are also said to have been arrested in the Banias area over the past three days with scores being detained at a local football pitch. Among those rounded up were at least three doctors and 11 injured people taken from a hospital.
…Amnesty International has compiled the names of 28 people who were apparently shot dead by security forces on Friday and those of 12 others killed over the last three days. The organization now has the names of 580 protesters and others killed since mid-March, when protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad began.
The 28 people killed on Friday include at least nine in Homs, six in Hama, four in Latakia, four in Dayr al-Zor, three in Dera’a, one in Idleb and one in Damascus…..
Tanks have also entered Syria’s third-largest city, Homs, and the Mu’dhamiyeh suburb of Damascus, as well as Tafas. Today in Dera’a, Waleed Hamed Ta’m Allah Abazeid was reported to have been shot dead.
The Syrian government continues to attribute killings to “terrorist armed gangs” conspiring against it. The Syrian State News Agency, SANA, said that yesterday a minibus carrying civilians was ambushed near Homs by an “armed terrorist gang”, resulting in the deaths of 10 workers. One Syrian human rights activist told Amnesty International, however, that the minibus had been shot at by security forces manning a checkpoint.
Amnesty International has not been allowed access to the country and can not verify the conflicting reports. ….
سوريا أمام الجدار: ليتوقّف الجميع
Syria will change – with or without Assad
Brian Whitaker, guardian.co.uk, 9 May 2011
Brian Whitaker: Even if Syria’s president manages to quell the current uprising, it doesn’t mean he has won. The increasingly violent crackdown on democracy protesters in Syria has become a test case for neighboring Turkey and its ties to the West. As a member of NATO and the only democracy in the Muslim Middle East, Turkey has long boasted about “zero …
Guardian (GB): Assad has gone too far – the west must reject him
Simon Tisdall guardian.co.uk, Monday 9 May 2011
Anti-government protesters carry a banner during a rally in the central Syrian city of Homs accusing President Assad of violently suppressing dissent. Photograph: AP Numerous explanations are …