Syrians Scared and Angered by Sectarian Fighting. Little unity Among Opposition

Syrians everywhere are praying that their country is the regional exception and will not slide down the road to sectarian bloodletting as anger grows.  Homs, the meeting place of Syria’s religious communities, 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 government of following the Sampson option.

16 killed in Homs on Tuesday – the site of Syria’s first overtly sectarian clashes on Sunday. Tuesday’s dead included three mourners at a funeral for 10 people who were killed by security forces on Monday, according to the Guardian. “Rami Abdulrahman, director of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Homs had seen intense battles since security forces stepped up a crackdown on Monday. Fighting erupted after three regime supporters who were kidnapped last week were killed and their dismembered bodies returned to their relatives.”

NPR – Deb Amos

This ad offers some of the public responses to the initial “I am with Syria” campaign. At the top, the ad says, “The goal of the initiative is to raise awareness and to accept different opinions.” The campaign encouraged public interaction and criticism.

The red image illustrated with blood says in Arabic: “Arrests or bullets: I do not believe it.” Another, in blue, says: “I am with the law, but where is it?” The text illustrated with camouflage reads: “My way is your way, but there’s a tank in the way.” The orange image with a group of hands says: “I am those millions: thugs, thieves, lackeys — call me whatever you want.”

“We thank all the brave Syrians who broke the silence and expressed their views,” the ad reads at the bottom………………..

“Actually I have friends in the same family that are polarized now, brothers,” Alani says.

“This polarization is like, ‘Yes, we are going to crash, but it’s your fault,’ ” Omran adds. “That doesn’t matter if it’s your fault or my fault; we are crashing all together, so let’s stop the crash first.”

The crash, as they see it, can come from the economy, or the sectarian divide. That was dangerously displayed in a bloody weekend in the city of Homs. There, an Alawite minority, backed by security forces, clashed with the Sunni majority protesting on Friday.

The crash can come also from a government that plays up those sectarian fears and after years in power seems unwilling to tolerate dissent, says Alani.

“It’s not for the public, by the way — the public is getting this. We are having more [problems], actually, with the regime,” Alani says. “They are the ones that we are trying also to include in the campaign. [They], as well, have to adopt this philosophy.”….

Sectarian violence in Syria raises fears

BEIRUT — A spate of sinister killings in the central city of Homs is fueling fears that the popular uprising in Syria could descend into a version of the sectarian strife that has long destabilized neighboring Iraq and Lebanon.

The violence erupted over the weekend at a time when attention was focused on the huge and overwhelmingly peaceful anti-government demonstrations staged in many other cities around the country, including the largest protests yet to take place in the capital, Damascus.

In Homs, the weekly protests also went ahead, but under a cloud of sectarian tensions between the majority Sunni residents of the town, who constitute the bulk of the protest movement in the majority Sunni country, and the minority Alawites, the Shiite sect to which President Bashar al-Assad and most members of his regime belong. Read full article (Liz Sly)

Medvedev: Syria must not go the same way as Libya – Associated Press

Homs return to calm Le Monde (in french)

Security forces intervene in Homs and have stopped the violence, declared The chief of the Syrian league for human rights, Abdel Karim Rihaoui. He estimated that the confrontations that has started Saturday between the inhabitants gave a “dangerous signal to the collapse” that threatens the Syrian society, is a solution is not found to the crisis ‘born from the protest movement that started four months ago.

Time – Rania Abouzeid, “As Assad Hangs Tough, Syria’s Opposition Seeks Unity — and a Viable Strategy”

The opposition — a disparate group of aging intellectuals, exiled Islamists and the youths driving the protests — is trying to create a united front to present a viable alternative to the Baathist regime; but its divisions are many and varied, not least of which is the split between longtime exiles and those now shedding their blood in Syria’s streets. Those differences were on display at a conference attended by some 350 Syrian dissidents last weekend in Istanbul.

The assembly had intended to elect 50 members from inside Syria and 25 exiles to serve on a National Salvation Council, but the Damascus gathering (which was to be held simultaneously) was called off after security forces targeted the venue ahead of the event. Instead, the Istanbul meeting elected the 25 exiles, but there was discord, according to Radwan Ziadeh, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, who attended the Istanbul gathering and declined appointment to a position on the board of exiles. A group of Kurdish delegates walked out, he said, angered by the use of the term Syrian Arab Republic, which they felt failed to acknowledge the country’s long-marginalized ethnic Kurdish population. Tribal representatives also left the meeting. (See how Syria’s government plans to conquer the opposition.)

Even if the opposition does get its act together, its plans to unseat the regime are unclear. Right now it appears to be relying on street protests and waiting for the sputtering economy to collapse, a danger of which even Assad has warned. “The opposition is counting on the economy causing elite members to defect and the country to fall out of government control progressively,” says Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “So long as the military and state elites stick together to fight the opposition, it will be very difficult to bring down the regime.”

Andrew Tabler at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says waiting for the economy to bring down Assad will be too slow to guarantee success. Instead, he advocates economic siege tactics by the U.S. and its allies, like targeting Syrian oil and natural-gas exports, which account for about a third of state revenue. Damascus needs the vital foreign-exchange earnings to help fund its security forces, “maintain market subsidies and deliver payoffs to patronage networks,” Tabler told a U.S. House of Representatives committee last week. Choking energy exports would also force the regime “to borrow more from the Damascene and Aleppine business elite that support it, which in turn could lead to elite defections as the cost and risk of doing business with the Assad regime dramatically increases,” he said. (Iran has reportedly offered Damascus $5.8 billion in aid to help bolster its economy, according to French reports last week.)

Excerpted from the Final Statement of the Consultative Conference on National Dialogue: (Thanks Will)

The Consultative Meeting paved the way for the convening of the National Dialogue Conference, stressing on keeping the contact with all parties, social figures, and political Syrian powers within and outside the country, to prepare jointly for the National Dialogue Conference, which will be held immediately after completing these contacts and with the utmost speed, emphasizing that this Consultative Meeting cannot replace the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference, and considering all what was presented or proposed orally or in writing, to be documents and general trends that will be presented to the National Dialogue Conference.</I>

The National Salvation Conference in Istanbul selected 25 people to serve as a National Salvation Council for the revolution. The names are as follows:

  1. نجیب الغضبان
  2. كرستینا ابراھام
  3. أدیب الشیشكلي
  4. إیاس المالح
  5. محمد سرمیني
  6. عید عباسي
  7. فاتح الراوي
  8. أحمد الجبوري
  9. حمدي عثمان
  10. فرھاد أحمد
  11. مرح البقاعي
  12. حسان ھاشمي
  13. خالد خوجھ
  14. مطیع البطین
  15. علي أوزتركمان
  16. فرج حمود الفرج
  17. محمود الفیصل
  18. عمر الشواف
  19. جمال الوادي
  20. أحمد الأسعد
  21. محمود الدغیم
  22. مروان دعاس
  23. مریم الجلبي
  24. . جمال الورد
  25. ابراھیم الحریري

Off the Wall writes of the Istanbul Conference:

It was clear to many that the external opposition attending especially the organized one is of the Islamist shade albeit not all MBs, but other smaller parties as well. I do not think that they will have as much weight within the internal opposition and the coordination committees who have kept their own distance from most conferences. The regime’s prevention of the meeting in Syria through the Qaboun Massacre, ended up helping the internal wing of the Salvation movement. By making the effect of what heppens in Istanbul sink for a while and allow the internal group to balance out the external after seeing it all. The conference exposed some of those meeting in Istanbul as power-hungry and unreliable and as authoritarian of their own right. I heard that after delivering his speech, Burhan Ghalyoun left to his room and never returned. Opposition activists, especially younger ones and the few females who attended were greatly disappointed, and are now asking the internal group !

not to rely much on this branch and also asking those who have contributed money to these conferences to stop doing that and to send the money to support those activists on the inside, especially the coordination committees and/or to support the young activists who had to flee the country because of the regime’s murderous campaign.

Here is a harsh critique of the Istanbul Conference by Iman Albaghdady (writer and poet, and opposition activist)

أسماء لامعة إعلامياً و معتمة إنسانياً وأخلاقياً

by Iman Al-Baghdady on Monday, July 18, 2011 at 5:10pm
أقولها بصراحة لشباب الداخل وشباب التنسيقيات هبّوا و شكلوا ممثلين عنكم و شكلوا حكومة الظل أو المجلس الانتقالي المؤقت أنتم و دعكم من هؤلاء الديكتاتورين القبيحين… أنتم يا شباب من صنعتم الثورة وأنتم من لديكم عقول وإمكانيات قادرة على الانتقال نحو المرحلة القادمة..دعكم من الشخصيات المعروفة “أو بالأحرى التي أصبحت معروفة بفضلكم فأنا شخصياً لم أكن أعرفهم قبل أن تشقوا وتمهدوا لنا طريق الحرية بشجاعتكم و بطولتكم” دعكم من هذه المومياءات العفنة دعكم من هذه المتحجرات التي فقدت أي شعور إنساني أو وطني..

غالبية هؤلاء يتاجرون بكم و بدمائكم ثم يظهرون أمام الفضائيات ليتحدثوا عن حزنهم لأجلكم و هذا كذب وأنا مسؤولة عن كلامي..لا تتشائموا من كلامي بل كونوا حذرين ..كما أنه رغم كل شيء فأؤكد لكم أنني التقيت بالكثير من الشباب والشابات الذين أتوا من كافة أنحاء العالم ولديهم كل الرغبة بأن يكونوا معكم في ساحات سوريا .أتوا فقط من أجلكم ومن أجل سوريا..أنتم و هؤلاء الشباب المفكرين الحقيقين ..وليسوا أولئك الذين جاؤوا إلى المؤتمر متأنقين و يوزّعون علينا بطاقات طُبع عليها المفكر فلان.. و البروفسور الدكتور علاّن.. و صاحب المؤسسة السياسية أو الإنسانية علاّك البان

Revlon Responds:

152. Dear OFF THE WALL, Thank you for the link. Ms. Iman Albaghdady showed highly needed courage in speaking up her mind on the latest Salvation meeting in Istanbul. Her attendance was successful if only for exposing its deficiencies. Having learnt from this experience, she is urged to take every opportunity to attend every such meeting. Her fresh and honest voice would be most needed to promote the example of freedom and power sharing that she is so passionate about.

The disappointing, negative image that she witnessed had to do with subjective and objective elements that can and should be addressed. Elder activists are good fathers and mothers, like yours. You may not agree with how they go around doing things but you always trust their good will. They need young ones like you with energy and spunk to stay the course, and the young need their guidance and experience. From historic perspective, holding the salvation meeting succeeded in widening the base of representation of the Syrian opposition in exile, to add to the earlier Antalia meeting.

Her recount of the proceedings have enlightened us about the presence of significant deficiencies in the planning and running of such meetings. I urge the youth organizing the facebook pages to recruit young volunteers with professional experience in planning running, and concluding meetings. This is a specialized field and should not be left to the veteran activists to handle by themselves. The elite huddled instead of queued for what eluded them for years, namely the right to participate and represent in the political life in Syria. Their behavior brought to me the all familiar images of crowding (instead of queuing) for bread, subsidies, and at all government offices for Mu3amalat, by ordinary citizens.

This behavior has become part of our subconscious mannerism. Apparently the center for manners in the brain is closely linked to language. For once we speak another language we tend to assume manners of its culture! Should these elite try to use English or German as the medium for communication? Just kidding!

Petroleum Ministry: Iranian Financial Support for Syria is Baseless
(Dp-news – Sana)

DAMASCUS- An official source at the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry on Monday said that media reports saying Iran is supporting Syria with money and oil are false and baseless.

Some media reported that Iran has approved a financial support estimated at USD 5.8 billion to boost Syria’s economy in addition to granting Damascus 290 thousand barrels of oil for free during the coming nine months.

Syria has begun letting a few Lebanese papers into the country: As-Safir and al-Akhbar, both papers that are usually friendly to Syria.

Amal Hananu, “To Die For.” Jadaliyya. This is her seventh story about Aleppo. Here is a bit

….The next night I met a small group of friends at a popular restaurant in the predominantly Christian, al-Aziziyyeh area in downtown Aleppo. They spoke candidly about the recent atrocities and the atrocity of silence that has infected our community. They were distressed about the absent namoos, conscience, of the Aleppian people we had grown up with. They wondered, how many people needed to die before the loyalists change their minds? They asked, what we were supposed to do with the blood on our hands? They knew the government was plotting the ultimate mu’amara against their own people. Finally, this was the conversation I had expected to have since I arrived. I asked them if they understood how important they were, as influential people from an affluent society, insiders untainted by the west. They looked at me blankly, doubt and skepticism clouding their blue eyes, as if they didn’t understand what I was asking of them, or maybe they didn’t want to.

Even these young, educated, wealthy, privileged Sunnis, were cursed with limited perspective; the graveyard had not spared them. In America, we live by “impossible is nothing,” in Syria, “everything is impossible” is the standard. The regime “cuts our wings” and dictates the limits of our dreams. By fear, oppression, ignorance, corruption, the “system” has become the only possibility, the only way to exist. Syria, the graveyard of ambition, of ideas, of innovation, of hope. Our country, a panopticon that infinitely watches, judges, punishes, and worst of all, limits. Suhair Atassi was right, inside was the same as outside, but only because we have become prisoners of our limited selves….

LIGHTS OUT, By Andrew J. Tabler, ForeignPolicy.com, July 19, 2011

Four months into Syria’s uprising, the violence wracking the country is bad and getting worse. The restive city of Homs witnessed sectarian clashes over the weekend that reportedly left dozens dead, while forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad converged on the eastern town of Abu Kamal. As the Assad regime’s iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove approach to the uprising continues to fail, all eyes are focused on the Aug. 1 start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when the minority Alawite regime’s killing of predominately Sunni protesters could transform the uprising into a sectarian bloodbath.

This bloodshed, which is tragic in its own right, is also causing the sputtering Syrian economy to grind to a halt. Such a development would be particularly dangerous for Assad, as it could cause the business elite in the commercial hubs of Damascus and Aleppo to finally break ties with the regime and join ranks with the opposition. Iran, Assad’s staunch ally, is no doubt aware of the threat; Tehran is reportedly mulling a $5.8 billion aid package to Syria, as well as providing a daily supply of 290,000 barrels of oil for the next month. Fortunately, cash-strapped Iran does not have the resources to indefinitely bail out Assad if the United States organizes a Western effort to hit Syria in its Achilles’ heel — namely, its energy revenues.

Comments (54)


Abughassan said:

The tragedy in Homs is the most serious threat Syria has faced since March. It speaks volume about the incomoetence of the regime and the deep divisions in Syria. It was not the regime who killed those 4 alawis but it was the regime who allowed the situation to get to that point,and it was the security forces who failed to control the mobs. Some even believe that security forces chose to watch or look the other way to show Syrians what can happen if they lose security and allow people to take the law in their own hands.
When guns speak,the minds shut down and people act on their emotions and their instinct to survive and take revenge. More proof why a secular democracy is the answer..

July 19th, 2011, 11:40 pm

 

why-discuss said:

abughassan

“it was the security forces who failed to control the mobs.”

Security forces were never able to control the mobs except by shooting on them and being blame for it. How do you expect them to control the mob? They just don’t know how to. Security forces in western countries are well equipped and heavily trained to counter insurgency. No one gave the Syrian security forces a 101 course during 40 years without mobs.

July 20th, 2011, 12:54 am

 

daleandersen said:

Memo To: ABUGHASSAN

RE: “…when guns speak,the minds shut down…”

Wrong again! Nothing is going to happen in Syria until the opposition fighters get guns. Happily, they are getting guns as we speak from supporters in Iraq and in Lebanon. Expect things to get worse until the Assad Mafia is gone.

Face it, Abu. Bashar Assad and his people understand nothing but force.

http://playwrighter.blogspot.com/2011/07/dialogue-syrian-style.html

July 20th, 2011, 1:37 am

 

William Scott Scherk said:

مؤتمر الحوار الوطني

Apparently, as excerpted above, there is to be a National Dialogue Conference in Syria.

This is the official dialogue that supporters of Assad-led reform urge ‘opposition’ members to join.

Unfortunately, even if some wavering folk decide that they do now want to join the National Dialogue Conference, it appears there is nothing and no one to join — no plans, no announcements, no location, no contact mechanisms — judging from government sources, official and semi-official media and other emanations from the state.

Not only that, but the site set up specifically by the government for citizen discussion of draft reform legislation does not contain any texts of the drafts, nor does it mention any process underway to engage public participation. See مشروع قانون

If the supporters of official dialogue urge recalcitrant ‘opposition’ to join the purported conference, it appears there actually is no means for them to inform themselves . . .

What does this mean when contrasted against the official notice that the conference: “will be held immediately after completing these contacts and with the utmost speed”?

If the government has a plan for reform, it is keeping the details to itself. I find this worrying, almost frightening, and I hope that it is only my poor research skills that failed to turn up any evidence of such a plan.

What on earth is the government doing with the National Dialogue Conference?

July 20th, 2011, 1:46 am

 

William Scott Scherk said:

Re comment 3:

دايل، يمكن لك أن تخبرنا بالضبط ما يمنحك لتسليم السلطة على كل شيء التصريحات السورية ، مع مثل هذه النغمة ، متعجرفة الصالحين؟

July 20th, 2011, 1:56 am

 

daleandersen said:

Exactly, William.

The Regime never intended for the “dialogue” to be real or have teeth.

http://playwrighter.blogspot.com/2011/07/dialogue-syrian-style.html

July 20th, 2011, 1:57 am

 

Aboud said:

@3 “Happily, they are getting guns as we speak from supporters in Iraq and in Lebanon.”

Kindly provide some source for this nugget of information that no one else in Homs seems to be aware of. If the opposition had guns like you claim, they would have been used everytime the security things raided the neighborhoods to arrest someone.

July 20th, 2011, 4:03 am

 
 

Aboud said:

Form Al Sharq Al Awsat

“Syrian troops violate the Lebanese border and fire on homes”

http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&article=631958&issueno=11922

July 20th, 2011, 4:24 am

 

Revlon said:

219. Dear OFF THE WALL : I fully support your call.

I would also like to share with you some after thoughts, relating to one of Iman’s statements
بصراحة تمت دعوتنا لنكون “كمالة عدد” كي يملؤوا بنا المقاعد الكثيرة
بقاعة تتسع لخمسمائة متفرج كتبوا على بطاقاتهم مشارك وهذا غير حقيقي…حتى أنني علمت من أحد المنظمين أنهم لم يقرأوا الاقتراحات التي أرسلناها لهم قبل المؤتمر.. لقد طلبوا على ما يبدو أن نرسل اقتراحاتنا فقط كمجرد بروتوكول ..لكن مصير اقتراحاتنا الكثيرة كان سلة مهملات البريد الالكتروني الذي أرسلت إليه

Iman highlighted there a serious flaw in the precept of the traditional activists which they share with our current dictator; namely concern with the purpose and disregard to the people whom the purpose should serve.

Jr and his late Dad have duly sacrificed thousands of lives and tortured several fold that figure in the name of their higher purpose; the protection of national unity. The value of national unity to them is above the value of human souls that essentially make the nation.

The participants in the Salvation meeting bestowed due interest and reverence to the purpose of the meeting, namely the support of the revolution.
Yet they failed to reach out to the people whose revolution they claim they revere!

The revolution should not be about replacing a higher purpose with another.
The revolution is about restoring the human and civil rights of people; Every one of them.
Such includes the right to be able participate and lobby in political human life.
The meeting failed miserably in this count, probably due to poor planning and organization.
The leading elite participants failed in showing genuine reverence for the human value over their abstract higher purpose, the revolution.

Higher purpose is the virtual nucleus for actual dictatorships.
No purpose should be allowed to supersede the importance and value of a human being.

July 20th, 2011, 4:28 am

 

Aboud said:

A video of the massacre at the funeral at the Khaled ibn Waleed mosque. Notice the long and prolonged gunfire.

July 20th, 2011, 4:32 am

 

OFF THE WALL said:

Dear Revlon

The revolution should not be about replacing a higher purpose with another. The revolution is about restoring the human and civil rights of people; Every one of them.

I could not agree more. Well said.

July 20th, 2011, 5:29 am

 

najwa said:

A disaster if the committes can’t organize them selves anf form a translation period coatlition, old classical opposition will not offer the freedom people are dying for and will not rule in a way that prospers Syria even..Another devastating mistake they made in Istanbul was endangering the borders of Syria in the future, by their foolishness ans racism!! (more details on how here : https://syrians4change.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/%d9%86%d8%b9%d9%85-%d9%84%d9%84%d8%ac%d9%85%d9%87%d9%88%d8%b1%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b3%d9%88%d8%b1%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%84%d8%a7-%d9%84%d9%84%d8%aa%d9%87%d9%85%d9%8a%d8%b4-%d9%88-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a7/)

July 20th, 2011, 6:09 am

 

Aboud said:

A tank from the Hama-revolution’s armored division. We call it the T-Mundas Mark I

July 20th, 2011, 6:48 am

 

Tara said:

I liked reading about ” I am with Syria” campaign details. The responses posted were so telling. They reflect an expansive range of emotions. I guess one of the good thing about this revolution is that it is hopefully going to kill the apathy we always suffer from living with no voice to be heard in Syria. “Lack of apathy” will lead to taking initiative, hard work, and volunteerism and I think most Syrians lack these characteristics in political and social life. Hopefully, this has already changed.

July 20th, 2011, 7:09 am

 

N.Z. said:

Totally agree, with you Tara. The question is will ” I am with Syria” campaign be allowed in public schools and universities?????

July 20th, 2011, 7:24 am

 

Newbie said:

Why comments from oldtimers gets published directly but that of newbies awaits moderation ,and thus gets buried in the old comments??
We want justice and equality ,,,NOW
What do we want….? JUSTICE
When do we want it…? NOW

July 20th, 2011, 7:54 am

 

Observer said:

Joshua would you consider including the NYT article today about Hama to your post of news in Syria.
It is nice new piece of information about the situation there and a glimpse of a “liberated city”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/world/middleeast/20hama.html?hp

July 20th, 2011, 7:55 am

 

Aboud said:

Observer @16 Can we call him Joshua? I thought that would be a bit too informal….

July 20th, 2011, 8:04 am

 

William Scott Scherk said:

SANA and DP-news announce ‘surprises beyond imagination’ expected from President Assad before the end of the month. He is expected to speak to the nation to announce the abolition of Article 8, among other things.

This will be wonderful news to those who are already assured that reform is well underway behind the palace walls.

The only puzzling thing is that this story quotes only one single source — the Lebanese newspaper Diyar (of course, neither DP or SANA seems to have figured out how to put links inside their stories — so one has to dig around to find the freaking story they quote from).

Is this the usual way for Syrian official media to herald such a surprise? I do not understand why SANA or DP do not call Dr Shabaan and say “How about a headsup next time, Dear Doctor, and can you confirm the story, or have I caught you at a bad time?”

The cynic in me supposes that Dr Shabaan is too busy advising the President on media matters to bother informing the Syrian media directly of the important speech the President will deliver. What the hell does she do? Is she tied up in the basement?

I had thought Abughassan might have been off-mark in assessing incompetence or disarray in the palace, but I simply am boggled by this apparent disconnection between activities inside the government and the urgent necessity to inform its citizens.

Is this a Syrian tradition, or could Syrian media itself have not a clue what is happening — and not a clue how to press for information themselves?

I can well imagine how Revlon or Aboud might answer, but how about a plausible explanation from list readers who support a government-led reform process.

Please tell me that this kind of thing does not reflect a government without a head or a mouth or a plan.

July 20th, 2011, 8:04 am

 

norman said:

William,
Long overdue .

Everybody knows that the Syrian media is controlled , so if it comes out in the Syrian media, it means a done done deal and no surprise here, it might have been leaked through the Lebanese media to see the reaction first, so they can back track if they want .

July 20th, 2011, 8:23 am

 

PUNTROAD said:

William,

That is postive news (finally something positive).

July 20th, 2011, 8:32 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG wasn’t the Enemy

Amal Hananu’s comment:

Even these young, educated, wealthy, privileged Sunnis, were cursed with limited perspective; the graveyard had not spared them. In America, we live by “impossible is nothing,” in Syria, “everything is impossible” is the standard. The regime “cuts our wings” and dictates the limits of our dreams. By fear, oppression, ignorance, corruption, the “system” has become the only possibility, the only way to exist. Syria, the graveyard of ambition, of ideas, of innovation, of hope. Our country, a panopticon that infinitely watches, judges, punishes, and worst of all, limits. Suhair Atassi was right, inside was the same as outside, but only because we have become prisoners of our limited selves….

Isn’t this what AIG had been saying for years? And for years Alex and his followers were saying AIG didn’t know what he was talking about? As I recall, AIG was banned for several months because he had the audacity to say “the king wears no clothes”. Of course the excuse was that AIG made “too many posts”.

July 20th, 2011, 8:57 am

 

William Scott Scherk said:

Correction to my previous post: the story does not appear anywhere at SANA, only at DP-news.

I tracked down the Diyar report, which is even more garbled and opaque than the DP-news version.

بثينه شعبان وسماحه الأسد يُطلق آخر مبادراته السلميّة : إلغاء فوري للمادة 8 وانتخابات رئاسية

July 20th, 2011, 9:05 am

 

Aboud said:

William @18 Before the revolution, junior only spoke about reforms to the foreign press. He was never found to have uttered the word “reform” to official state run media.

Notice that every fake “reform” and “amnesty” has been announced on Thursdays, just before Friday demonstrations. In the same way, the regime is leaking rumors of “surprises beyond imagination” scheduled to be announced just before the mother of all Fridays – Ramadan.

Buthaina Sha’ban and Farooq Al Shara used similar phrases to describe junior’s upcoming first speech. We all know what a fiasco that was.

Rumors and leaks of “great reforms” are one of the regime’s favorite tools in its attempts to blunt the demonstrations. After four months, they have nothing to show for all the rumors they have leaked.

“the story does not appear anywhere at SANA”

That isn’t surprising as all. Just another rumor of a rumor of “great things to come, so just ignore the fact that our militias have killed scores of people this week”

If the regime was serious, they would release Najati Tayara and Ali Abdullah, two men who have done nothing to earn a jail sentence.

July 20th, 2011, 9:09 am

 

Aboud said:

Also, for the fourth straight day in a row, all government departments in the city have been closed down, and Homs has been observing a general strike three days now.

July 20th, 2011, 9:22 am

 

khananel said:

This is what I don’t get. All you people who say Assad is bad. I don’t know because I’m not a Syrian, I don’t live there. But can any of you imagine what it would be like if his regime does fail, if the economy fails, if there is civil war? There will be no more living, just possibly existing. Everyone will vbe fighting. The Almighty US of A no longer has the means to get bogged down in yet another ME morass. Who will replace Assad? Who will run the country if he goes? There is no stable opposition figure with an alternative programme and support on the ground most especially amongstthe economic and security elites, to take Assad’s place and give the country a different stability with economic security.

Living under him is bad, but living without him might be far far worse, because at present there is no realisti alternative. Everyone from the CIA to the Mossad, to the Saudi Wahhabis, to the Iranians is piling in with weapons to make a civil war happen. Do you wantv Syria to become another Lebanon?

To my mind Assad at least is the devil you know. His stability even if suffocating can be worked with. The devil you don’t know mightbbe unimaginably worse. It might become just plain unending chaos, anarchy and destruction. If any of you experiences that even for a short time, you might all become little Assads…

July 20th, 2011, 10:23 am

 

Revlon said:

25. Dear khananel, thank you for your concern!
We will take our chances!

Should Asad stay,
The people would have a choice of either continue to be enslaved, or be killed.

Should Civil war erupts,
The people would have the better choices of living free, or dying for it.

July 20th, 2011, 10:53 am

 

AIG said:

KHANANEL,

Where do you live? I am sure most of the Syrians would be happy to send Assad to rule you so you can determine first hand how good Assad is.

The main problem with your argument is that it is a general argument about why you should never attempt to replace dictatorships with democracy. Interestingly enough, it is an argument often put forward by the dictators themselves.

Change entails risk. But no change is even riskier. It will lead to stagnation as the last 40 years of Assad regime have.

July 20th, 2011, 10:56 am

 

Inhabitant of Damascus said:

There have been a number of developments in the last few weeks which have provided a little more clarity on the situation here in Syria. The first event was the conflict at Jisr al-Shagour in which many Syrian soldiers were killed. After this, the existance of Salafist (and perhaps other) insurrectionists in Syria, intent on destabilising the regime and stirring sectarian tensions/hatreds, cannot be denied. This important and dangerous element in the Syria mix was aptly described by Alistair Crooke in his ‘Unfolding the Syrian Paradox’ article earlier this month. The killing of security forces continues. Three were buried yesterday, killed in Homs.

The second development was the visit of the US and France ambassadors to Hama to ‘support’ the opposition. This visit underlined the point that outsiders have an agenda in destabilising the Assad regime. The US has been funding exiled opposition groups for years, and after 2003 have sought to undermine the regime through sanctions. The ambassadors’ action has simply deepened divisions in an already increasingly divided and angry nation.

The third development was the Istanbul conference of exiled opposition figures. Although some 350 turned up, there was little sense of cohesion, and those attending seemed out of touch with the situation on the ground. Most (there are exceptions) have little credibility inside Syria, and no influence on what is happening on the ground.

The fourth event was the two-day conference in Damascus involving a number of opposition figures, independants, Baath party members and regime representative. This was a positive undertaking. Unfortunately it seems likely that this was part of the tactic of ‘let’s talk and set up committees to talk about reform’ of the regime, perhaps to buy time while the streets are cleansed of protest. There are grave doubts about the sincerity of the regime while civilians are dying.

The fifth observation is that regime has stepped up the organisation of pro-government rallies. On Ummayyad Square in Damascus on Monday hundreds of thousands of pro-regime people turned up to celebrate the president and the regime with singing and dancing and a huge fireworks display. This lengthy, televised and gross waste of public funds, at a time when Syrian civilians are dying in the streets, seemed bizarre and out of touch. Giant flags have been deployed to parade in pro-regime territory. As I write this I am watching Syria TV’s coverage of a very large rally in Sueida, between Damascus and Deraa, with a 2.3km flag draped through the city. This is very well organised with helicopters overhead filming the tens of thousands who turned out for the party. Sueida is mainly a Druze and Christian area. I saw very few veiled women attending, and to my relatively uninformed eye, the gathering seemed heavily dominated by these two minorities which fear a Sunni ascendancy in Syria.

The sixth and most worrying event has been the deterioration of the situation in Homs, and what has been reported as a sectarian conflict between Alawis and Sunnis, taking the lives of 30 or so people. The further killing of perhaps up to 16 civilians at the funerals of 10 people near the Khaled ibn Waleed mosque further adds to the tensions there. Who did the funeral killings? YouTube footage provides no evidence. Salafists? Alawi Shabiha? Regime security forces? Who knows?

So where does this leave Syria? We may now be observing the beginning of a slow gradual process of a complete breakdown in Syrian society – an internal disintegration. I doubt that the regime can retrieve the situation – they have lost control of the situation of the streets – the armed gangs, including Salafists, are showing a determined ability to embarrass regime forces at will. Ineptitude, poor discipline and fragmentation in the security forces has resulted in the growing number of civilian deaths. The regime cannot protect its citizens. Every week this situation goes on, Assad loses respect, particularly on the part of his Sunni support. And every week, the sectarian divisions deepen. The army is coming under severe pressure – how long can it sustain current regime policy?

The only way I believe that Bashar can retrieve the situation is to announce a clear process of governmental reform culminating in elections in say 8 months time. This should include a rewrite of the constitution. He should call in the UN to assist in the electoral process, and call on friends like Brazil, Turkey and South Africa to provide assistance (through the UN) in formulating a new constitution. Bashar needs to gain the confidence of the protest movement very quickly to stop the rot. Only by convincing protesters to stay off the streets for a time will the Salafist insurrectionist threat be exposed and dealt with. The protest movement is currently providing cover for the armed gangs to stir sectarian conflict Iraq-style. If the situation continues to drift – then I fear for the future of all Syrians. Kilometres-long flags and fireworks just won’t do the trick.

July 20th, 2011, 10:58 am

 

Aboud said:

khananel @ 25 The questions you ask are the obvious ones every Syrian asked themselves four months ago. By now, it is blindingly clear that Syrians have decided that they will risk whatever may come, rather than endure another year under junior, and junior II, and junior III….

Syrians have shown that they will risk their lives, imprisonment and torture, to be rid of this man. And with every massacre, every mass arrest, every lost opportunity, junior is making that choice much more easier to live with.

July 20th, 2011, 11:10 am

 

Majed97 said:

The security forces have the most thankless job in the world. How should any security forces operate in a country that is at risk of falling apart? What precedent is there throughout history that can provide some guidance on how to reason with armed mobs? To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question…

July 20th, 2011, 11:28 am

 

Abu Umar said:

“30. Majed97 said:

The security forces have the most thankless job in the world. How should any security forces operate in a country that is at risk of falling apart? What precedent is there throughout history that can provide some guidance on how to reason with armed mobs? To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question… ”

If the shoe was on the other foot, would you be saying the same thing? The uprisings against Saddam were even more violent while many of the Syrian protests weren’t violent despite the nonsense spread by Syrian Tv? Do you support Saddam’s repression of them?

July 20th, 2011, 11:42 am

 

daleandersen said:

Memo to: MAJED97

RE: “…security forces have the most thankless job…”

You’re right. The men and women of the al-Mukhabarat have it really tough. First, walking around in those thick leather jackets in the hot summer sun must take a toll. Then there are the moral questions: to shoot or not to shoot, to torture or not to torture, to rape or not to rape. I imagine the truly conflicted ones just flip a coin…

http://playwrighter.blogspot.com/2011/06/stuck-in-damascus-with-memphis-blues.html

July 20th, 2011, 11:47 am

 

daleandersen said:

Memo To: WILLIAM SCOTT SCHERK

RE: “…please tell me that this kind of thing does not reflect a government without a head or a mouth or a plan…”

Hate to break it to you, Bucko, but the Arab Spring caught Bashar with his pants down. He, and the folks around him, haven’t a clue. They are in total denial, as in “Oh God no! This is not happening!”

By the way, I would advise you to change your last name. Syrians are overt (edited for racism) at heart and most of them probably think a name with an “SCH” in it is Jewish.

http://playwrighter.blogspot.com/2011/06/stuck-in-damascus-with-memphis-blues.html

July 20th, 2011, 12:09 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Tara

http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=10806#comment-263053

If I was in the government I would not want to meet in a dialog with an opposition that has no control whatsoever on the street.
Whatever offers I will make will be used by the street to escalate the demands. While the government controls its troops and can offer guarantees, the opposition can’t give any guarantees about the street behavior.
Secondly, how can Bashar take seriously the dialog if the street calls for his removal.

The x-opposition showed it was useless but it does control the street, the local opposition is weak and undecided and does not control the street.

I would have expected than instead of Ford, an local opposition ‘leader’ would have gone to Hama to make a public speech, while the only speeches we are hearing are in the mosque. By its inertia and lack of organization, the local opposition has let the extremist control the course of events and we see when it is leading.
Why Kilo or Dalila or whoever don’t stand in front of a crowd of protesters and talk!
In the background, as I expected it, Turkey and the US are helping the local opposition to come out of its apathy as is it obvious now for everybody that there is no other solution that a dialog with the present government. Turkey may be giving guarantees of the trustworthyness of the Syrian government to the suspicious opposition.
There could be soon a visit from Turkey FM in Damascus, maybe after Bashar make his announcements.

July 20th, 2011, 12:32 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Abboud

“it is blindingly clear that Syrians have decided that they will risk whatever may come, rather than endure another year under junior, and junior II, and junior III….”

Sorry, it is not blindly clear for me at all, as it is not for most Syrians.
Aleppo and Damas don’t fit into the ‘Syrians’ category anynmore?

Please justify your generalization with facts not with your own hopefull thinking.

July 20th, 2011, 12:38 pm

 

why-discuss said:

28. Inhabitant of Damascus

“I doubt that the regime can retrieve the situation”

“Bashar needs to gain the confidence of the protest movement very quickly to stop the rot.”

A comprehensive summary, yet your conclusions are confusing. Is there a hope of not, what is the time left to save the country from ‘desintegration’?

July 20th, 2011, 12:44 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Loyalist troops besiege Damascus suburb after protests

The usual sectarian and biased look of Khaled Yacoub Oweis. Just count the number of times he uses the words ‘alawites’ and ‘sunnis’

http://news.yahoo.com/loyalist-troops-besiege-damascus-suburb-protests-145212416.html

July 20th, 2011, 12:54 pm

 

Aboud said:

“Syrians are overt racists at heart ”

I guess the irony of that statement is lost on you? Let’s see if the “Report Comment” actually does anything.

W-D @ 35 “Please justify your generalization with facts not with your own hopefull thinking. ”

The suburbs around Damascus have come out in strength, by no means is the regime’s support in Damascus complete and absolute. As for Aleppo, I can’t count the number of times lawyers and university students have been beaten up by the shabiha scum for demonstrating.

The only thing keeping much, if not most, of Aleppo subdued is the unprecedented security presence in the city. Just look at the absurd list of 20 people they arrested; a Christian, 3 people with the same name, and 2 people whose name differed only by a letter

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/07/arrested-in-aleppo.html

One more weary time, I ask you, if junior is so popular, why doesn’t he allow free and fair elections? Why doesn’t he allow the free press in? Why doesn’t he remove his security forces, who have been the cause of so many deaths.

In fact, junior has done *none* of the things that would prove his popularity, and everything that one would expect from an isolated dictator on the ropes.

July 20th, 2011, 12:57 pm

 

vlad-the-syrian said:

DALESOMETHING #33

“Syrians are overt racists at heart …” sure !!!

who is being racist here except you ?

we are sick and tired of your scum and continual nonsense

July 20th, 2011, 1:02 pm

 

vlad-the-syrian said:

Moderator

i request the removal of DALEANDERSEN

i have been banned for much less than that

Thanks

July 20th, 2011, 1:06 pm

 

Tara said:

Why,

In my view, Fidaa guy and company located outside Syria connected to the coordination committees operating inside Syria are the entity that is actually controlling the street and they are an entity onto their own. I do not see a strong link between them and the traditional external opposition (Antalya, Levy’s, and Turkey II meetings). I do not believe they were present in any of those meetings. I also do not see them as part of the traditional internal opposition (Kilo, Dalila, Maleh, etc).

They are the ones giving names to all the Fridays. They are the ones coining the slogans. They are the ones giving the demonstrators instructions on first aid techniques, fleeting demonstrations, how to handle tear gas, etc, etc. They are the ones insisting on the non-violent and the non-sectarian flavors of the revolution. They are the street. They are the youth. Just spend a day on their FB and you will know. Any meaningful dialogue should, in my opinion, be carried out with them. They can inflame the street and they can, I believe, calm it too. All other entities are irrelevant and ineffective. They are mostly invisible except Fidaa and Mouhammed Abdallah, their spokesperson based in DC. Their vision is not sectarian and not violent. Both are exiled. Both and other youth leaders inside Syria are not going to be safe carrying a dialogue in Syria without international guarantees. This is the missing link that nobody is paying attention to. Dalila, kilo and other can’t really control the street and them talking to Hama would be ineffective. Those guys are the ones Bashar should seek to speak to.

Does anyone agree with any of above?

July 20th, 2011, 1:24 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Tara

Sorry, Tara I have no trust in an opposition that hides behind facebook in the safety of Sweden and send people on the street supposedly peacefully but provocatively with slogans to remove Bashar al Assad. They said it clear and cloud : NO DIALOG
What can you expect of them?
How long are they going to remind in hiding? Who tells you that they can calm the street. Remember that enflamming the street is easy, calming it needs a real presence, a leader,a voice not tweets!!
I think these people are simply irresponsable kids and have invented a new game: SyrieVille, like the popular game Cityville.

Because of the similarity of their demands, I tend to believe they are connected with the absurb, yet internationaly powerful group of Istambul that made a shame of being syrian.

And then you mention local Syrian youths? where are they? in hiding still? now that wall of fear fell??
I have no trust at all about people who are cowardly hiding and let the others obey their destructive injunctions, whatever great and noble ideas they propagate.
I mentioned that Turkey need to meet the local opposition and offer them guarantees. That is the only necessary next to open the dialog in Syria by Syrians.

July 20th, 2011, 2:05 pm

 

Tara said:

Why,

I get it. You don’t trust the leaders of the FB and the coordination committees. The former are \”irresponsible kids” and the later are “in hiding” despite the wall of fear being shattered. Fine. (In my opinion , they should remain invisible not because they are “coward” but because their safety is important for the demonstrations to continue). Who in your opinion then can affect the street?

Supposedly, the trusted traditional internal opposition started a dialogue with the regime, do you think they can calm the street? What if Dalila, Kilo, et al meet and the street does not get “calmed” then what? What are you going to do with \” the street\”?

July 20th, 2011, 2:41 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Tara

If the local opposition show a strong united front ( including all religious groups, young and old ) and get into a serious dialog bringing in all the demands of the street, except the removal of Bashar, many, supported by the extremists (the no-dialog people) will call them traitors and threatened them, but the majority of protesters will go with hem, because Syrians don’t want more chaos and most are ready to compromise to get at least a large part of their demands answered. Syrians are becoming aware after Homs, that the longer you wait, the worse it can become in the sectarian radicalization. The civil war may happen before the economy collapses as many have been hoping as the way to get Bashar out.

In Egypt, they went the other way around, they removed the leader to find that the tentacles are everywhere and in particular in the army. There has been no serious dialog, Egypt will have a second revolution soon, many of my egyptians friends tell me so.

Tunisia is also in a similar situation as Egypt. The removal of the leader is no a garantee of success, we have seen Iraq, now Egypt and Tunisia.
The dialog, how ever intense it can be, is the only success of a healthy transition to democracy.
Compared to Egypt and Tunisia and Yemen and even Bahrain where the presidents/leaders were hated both for their national and international policies, Syria is lucky to have a president that is liked by a large number of Syrians, hated by some and tolerated by most. He certainly failed to make the reform to the political system on time, he failed on the national and economical policies but succeeded in the foreign policies, respecting the desire of the people concerning issues like Palestine, support for Hexzbollah and overture with Turkey.
So in my view, throwing the baby with bath water is wrong.
There is still a chance that it works out, but the local oppositions should say to x-opposition and Fidaa and Cie: Thank you for having started this necessary movement but now move over, we are taking off this revolution from the street to the table of dialog and we welcome all the ones who can be in Damascus for the dialog, but please no video conference calls or email. Be here, or forget it
I just hope that the local opposition starts to meet among themselves, decide about a common road, designate representative and starts a serious dialog with the government where they would also put their demands on the security concerns to avoid the spiraling violence.
The outcome of the dialog should not been seen as ‘concessions’ but as agreements for the good of both parties.
That’s how I have advocating for a long time, I am still hopeful it can happen.

July 20th, 2011, 5:06 pm

 

Tara said:

Why,

Do you accept term limit?

July 20th, 2011, 5:20 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Tara

See what the military is planning for Egypt. They claim they want to protect secularism as was the case in Turkey but many suspect they want to keep the industrial and economical network they got from Mobarak.
Would the youth activist and Facebook afficionados accept that or make another revolution?
Egypt’s military ‘seeks for Turkey-like future political role’

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=egypt8217s-military-8216seeks-for-turkey-like-future-political-role8217-2011-07-20

July 20th, 2011, 5:25 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Tara

Of course, whatever they agree. Syrians know better what they want

July 20th, 2011, 5:28 pm

 

MNA said:

Aboud @ 31
“Syrians have shown that they will risk their lives, imprisonment and torture, to be rid of this man. And with every massacre, every mass arrest, every lost opportunity, junior is making that choice much more easier to live with.”

&

Revlon @ 28

“We will take our chances!

Should Asad stay,
The people would have a choice of either continue to be enslaved, or be killed.

Should Civil war erupts,
The people would have the better choices of living free, or dying for it. ”

Are you guys the spokespersons for the Syrian people now?

And just one question here, Do you guys, your friends and families want to die for it, or are you asking other people to do it?

July 21st, 2011, 3:36 am

 

Aboud said:

@49 MNA “Do you guys, your friends and families want to die for it, or are you asking other people to do it? ”

Obviously you are new here. I’m in Homs right now. Myself, my family and my friends are risking all every single day. So pardon me if I consider myself to have more credibility in my left pinky than all the foreign-living menhebaks on this website.

Allah, Souria, houria wa bas!

July 21st, 2011, 4:44 am

 

MNA said:

Aboud @ 50

If your are really in Homs, then things are not as bad as it sounds on the news. It seems that you have very good access to the internet and are always here and answering every poster right away. I m in Damascus where, unlike Homs, things are very quite, but still very often have difficulties accessing the internet.
But really, Aboud, I don’t think that you can speak for the Homsis, not alone, Syrian people.

And you really should distance your self from a bahvior that you guys accused the regime of for the longest time. Labeling everyone that challanges you as a regime supporter is just not a good practice.

July 21st, 2011, 6:55 pm

 

True said:

Arabs always tend to outsource their problems and blame Israel with or without an evidence. The problem lies in their uncontrolled emotional reactions, this mere downfall is the main reason for them to be controlled and deceived by other nations actually even by their own leaders. All Arabs have been put on drugs since 1948, they have buying, happily, lots of crap and ineffectual slogans while their economical and social conditions were deteriorating day after day till they hit the bottom, no actually they have managed to dig in further!!! The question is do you really believe Arab people enjoy very low IQ so they could not figure out what’s actually happening? Or they were fully aware and it’s simply the Arab nature of enjoying being submissive and controlled by a bunch of tyrants and their masters? Or it’s the sad fact of just being useless pawns in a bigger scale of an international chess game?

July 21st, 2011, 6:58 pm

 

Darryl said:

52. TRUE said:

The Arab mind has been colonized a long time ago. The Arab leaders and clergy just keep on reinforcing that so the other nations can easily substitute a different code in the mind and the myths continue ….

July 21st, 2011, 7:16 pm

 

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