Posted by Joshua on Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Syria’s security measures are failing. Each week more Syrians join demonstrations and become participants in the general uprising. The Jazirah region become a new center of disturbance recently. Many inhabitants of Deir ez-Zor have joined protests and smaller towns, such as Bukamal, have also become centers of turmoil.
Homs was not peaceful. It is very hard to get an a accurate picture of events there. Activists paint a dire picture of a city under attack, where five civilians were shot on Friday and one or two during the week, as Nada Bakri describes in Syrian Forces Crack Down in Restive City With Raids and Gunfire. She writes that three buildings were destroyed by artillery or tank fire. Al-Jazeera also went with the artillery story, but government officials deny that tank fire was used in Homs. Activists claim that tanks fired on this mosque and hit its minaret. See the video. Activists state in the video that it as an example of the “hatred for Islam,” of the soldiers who fire on mosques. Others argued the video was a hoax and fabricated because no damage was done to the minaret. Videos, such as these, make judging any given event very difficult.
Syrian state sources give a very different view of events. They describe an army that is being frequently sniped at and ambushed; rather than one that is victimizing Syrians. The task of urban policing is overwhelming soldiers who are sent out on patrol and told to keep roads open and make sure that barricades do not block streets. Sana interviews soldiers who claim that 32 law-enforcement members and 8 civilians have been wounded in Homs recently. Other soldiers were killed outside Homs near Rastan, when their bus was strafed by activists hiding in surrounding orchards along the main highway.
In Deraa, activists complain, “The many [government] check points prevent us from gathering in large numbers.”
No mater how one interprets the conflicting reports or how one counts the number of protestors in each city, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Syria is becoming more divided, more sectarian, that more towns and cities are becoming involved in demonstrations, and that the government is not getting control of the uprising. On the contrary, the government does not have a military answer to the problems and is hesitant to use lots of force. When it does use force, things become worse. When it does not, things become worse. In Hama, where the governor withdrew the military, demonstrations grew. The government has so far pursued political solutions – dialogue and compromise – without conviction and little real compromize. It is not willing to open up the political arena to real competition.
The opposition also seems to be divided and largely improvising as it feels its way forward to ever larger demonstrations. This is a success, but it does not point the way toward an end-game. Perhaps an end-game will materialize if numbers of protestors continue to grow. The danger of this lack of leadership and unity, is that as the opposition grows, it will be unable to restrict its members to non-violence. Elements of the opposition are getting arms and becoming militant. In Militias may form and take maters into their own hands, pushing aside the pacifists.
Ziad Haydar in al-Safir -زياد حيدر – معظم قواعد حزب البعث مع «التعددية السياسية والديموقراطية وتعديل المادة الثامنة. writes that most Baath Party Leaders support pluralism, democracy, and doing away with article 8 of the constitution (the article which mandates the leadership of the Baath Party)
أكد نائب الرئيس السوري فاروق الشرع، في لقاء مع إعلاميين بينهم مراسل «السفير» في دمشق أمس، أن «الإصلاح يجري بمبادرة من الرئيس بشار الأسد، وأن الرئيس يقوده، وهو يحدد جدولا زمنيا له»، معتبرا في الوقت ذاته أن معظم قواعد حزب البعث مع «التعددية السياسية والديموقراطية وتعديل المادة الثامنة» من الدستو.
This al-Hayat correspondent states that most Arab papers are hostile to the Syrian government, particularly those based in London, including al-Hayat. They are invested in providing negative views and news of the Syrian regime, he says.
Laying waste to humble Homs, The Economist
The embattled regime’s use of violent gangs is stoking sectarian fears
REVOLUTIONARY fervour in Syria has shifted back from Hama—last week’s hotspot—to neighbouring Homs. At least 33 residents have been killed by security forces and government thugs in the city in recent days. Several were shot at funerals. Others died in what are described as sectarian clashes. On July 16th the mutilated corpses of three regime supporters were found in the outskirts. In retaliation, gangs allied to the ruling Assad family from the minority Alawite sect smashed up shops in districts dominated by the Sunnis. Residents have also reported indiscriminate shooting from unmarked, speeding cars while security forces looked on.
Since the start of protests in mid-March, Syrian activists have repeatedly complained about thugs working alongside the security forces in a crackdown that has now killed more than 1,500 civilians. Amateur video footage from various cities shows plain-clothed thugs—known as “shabiha”—committing atrocities. Many are members of the Assad clan or smugglers and racketeers from the coastal region. The leaders are thought to be Munzer and Fawwaz Assad, first cousins of President Bashar Assad. Both men were targeted by European Union sanctions in May.
Gangs are a useful tool for the regime. They make up the numbers when exhausted security forces take a break after more than four months on duty. They also allow officials to deny responsibility for some of the worst killings. Perhaps most important, the gangs raise the spectre of sectarian war, as seen in Iraq or Lebanon. The government hopes this might frighten people off the streets. In Latakia, a coastal city in the Assad heartland, residents have seen shabiha groups attack Alawite and Christian districts posing as Sunnis. This has helped to rally some support for the regime. Meanwhile in Homs, anti-Alawite feeling has intensified.
Yet fears of a sectarian meltdown are overblown. Anti-regime protests do not spring from religious differences. Indeed, it has been striking how secular, or at least ecumenical, the uprising in Syria has so far been. Sunnis have called on Christians, Alawites and other minorities to join them on the streets. Protesters have shouted “Muslims, Christians and Alawites are one” and waved crosses. After the latest killings in Homs, several prominent Alawites circulated statements condemning the damage done to Sunni shops.
Comments from the last Post
Revlon writes in the comment section:
The ratio of commentators on SC is still in favor of the regime. Such also reflects the current balance of physical power on the ground.
However, over the last couple of months, several pro-regimers have either withdrawn or announced the intention to, from SC.
The reasons given have been:
Tired, disgusted, futile discussion,—–.
This is the 4th stage of Grief in Kübler-Ross model; The depression; ” I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
It is hitting supporters at various speeds.
SC commentators’ current standoff, in someways reflects the bigger picture on on the ground.
A large segment of the regime leadership and supporters have indeed lapsed into depression.
The good news is, they have finished 4 of 5 stages.
One more and they will be in the final stage: Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
SC will be around to host the resolution phase! Revlon will be around to read AlFati7a, only this time to celebrate the renewal of our friendship in a framework of respect for human and civil rights.
No Syrian will accept European or American interventions. The US will not give permission to Turkey to invade Syria. More demonstrations, as the regime resort to violent crackdown,,economy will deteriorate,inflation will hit hard as the Lira will loose its value,people will start complain publicly,more demonstrations will ensue,this will not lead to Bashar resignation, the elite will feel the crisis, as it will hit there pockets, they will talk to Bashar, he will decline,finally the protesters will recognize that they have to bear arms, to defend themselves, this will lead to much more casualties, among Shabbiha and security forces,they will run away, Bashar will be left with only the army to depend on, he will need more than 4th brigade,and republican guards, then the troops will start defecting in large numbers, army officers will separate creating cantons,they all will have one goal , to change the regime, but they all will be independent,pressure will mount on Bashar to quit,internal division will end the regime.new dictator will appear,we will not get our democracy that we yearn for,a lot of blood will be spilled, a lot of properties will be destroyed.
Let me tell you about Bab el-Sbaa [in Homs, the center of the demonstrations]
it’s a wonderful neighbourhood , there are Christians and Muslims there living together without any problem there are two churches in that small neighbourhood and Muslims are conservatives but they do respect our freedom and traditions for example, almost every muslime girl there is wearing Hijab but if some one harassed a Christian girl because of her liberal outfit a conservative Muslim will deal with hem in case none of her family is there , it’s a wonderful and safe place unlike its recent reputation , the problem about Babelsbaa is its connected to ALwarsha Babeldreeb and bab el Turkman, people in Bab elsbaa believe that the armed gangs don’t belong to their neighbourhood (almost every one knows every one there ) they come from babeldreeb or other places because they take advantage of the small alleys passages and old Arabic houses in there plus they managed to close the neighbourhood using barricades ,the people of Babelsbaa DO demonstrate but I refuse to think they are using any arms as I do know my people plus my family never recognized any of the armed men but recently it become terrorists safe heaven because of the blocked neighbourhood and the rumour that the army will not enter there but the situation is unbearable now Babelsbaa is Babeldreeb and Alwarsha and babelturkman ,things are mixed up the army had to put an end to this rebels who converted the neighbourhood to a hub and a Refuge to terrorists ,my own family is under siege ,I cant call them or communicate with them but I am happy because I read the army is there hopefully it will manage to bring back peace and safety.
The Realist Prism: Regime Change and Demobilization in Iraq and Beyond
By: Nikolas Gvosdev | Column
Most experts believe that one of the most catastrophic mistakes made during the U.S. occupation of Iraq was the decision to disband the Iraqi armed forces in May 2003. The question is not merely of interest to historians and those writing “after-action” reports on the Iraq invasion. After all, other Iraq-style regimes — most notably in Syria, Libya and North Korea — are likely to fall in the near future.