The Armed Gangs Controversy

The Armed Gangs Controversy

I have taken up the “armed gangs controversy” in my last two posts. In the comment section, Syrians have debated whether the opposition has produced militant elements that are killing Syrian soldiers. A number of analysts, such as Majd Eid, who joined in the debate on France 24 yesterday, continue to argue that there is not a violent side to the uprising. They insist that Syrian soldiers are killing fellow soldiers, not opposition elements. This killing is carried out when security personnel refuse orders to shoot at crowds, they insist. So far, no evidence has surfaced to demonstrate that Syrian military have shot their fellow soldiers for refusing to carry out orders. Most evidence supports government statements that armed opposition elements have been shooting security personnel.

This controversy arose in April during the protests in Banyas, when nine soldiers were killed while traveling down the main highway in two transport vehicles outside of the city. Activists claimed that soldiers in Banyas were executed by fellow soldiers for refusing to shoot at demonstrators. This story turned out to be fictional, but was carried by most of the Western Press and never corrected. I wrote about this controversy on April 14 under the title: Western Press Misled – Who Shot the Nine Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces. The reason I took an interest in this story is because my wife’s cousin, Lt. Col. Yasir Qash`ur, was one of the nine soldiers killed on April 10. We know him well. We spoke with Yasir’s brother-in-law, Colonel `Uday Ahmad, who was sitting in the back seat of the truck in which Yasir and several of the nine soldiers were killed. `Uday told us that two military trucks were ambushed as they crossed a highway bridge by well armed men who were hiding behind the median of the highway and on the tops of buildings at the edge of the road. They raked the two trucks with automatic fire, killing nine. The incident had nothing to do with soldiers refusing orders. His description of what happened so contradicted the reports I was reading in the press that I began to dig around. Later video footage of the shooting surfaced and was shown on Syrian TV. It corroborated Uday’s story. Western press and analysts did not want to recognize that armed elements were becoming active. They preferred to tell a simple story of good people fighting bad people. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the opposition was peaceful and was being met with deadly government force and snipers. One only wonders why that story could not have been told without also covering the reality – that armed elements, whose agenda was not peaceful, were also playing a role.

In the bloody battles at Jisr ash-Shaghour most of the Western Press again repeated opposition claims that some 100 Syrian soldiers were killed not by opposition elements but by their own colleagues. The Western press insisted that Syrian military elements were killed in the city by fellow soldiers for refusing orders to shoot. Government claims that the soldiers were killed by armed elements who ambushed and overwhelmed them, were dismissed. Today, teh video footage that has surfaced is fairly conclusive in corroborating the original government version of events: the soldiers stationed in the town were overrun by armed and organized opposition.  Here is a video of some of the soldiers before they were killed. The first minute or two of this video shows the soldiers after being shot. This is unedited footage of the bodies before they were carried away on trucks.

In the Hama fighting, the video depicting dead bodies being thrown off a bridge into a river has been the subject of controversy. This video made by comparing Google Earth footage of the bridge to the actual video seems fairly conclusive in proving that the footage is new, is from Hama, and does depict opposition elements throwing the bodies of soldiers from the highway bridge into the `Asi River just north of Hama on the highway to Aleppo.

So what is the meaning of the emergence of armed opposition elements?

A prominent anti-government activist speaking on CNN said it best. Here is the CNN report by Arwa Damon and Nada Husseini of Aug. 2, 2011:

One prominent anti-government activist, who asked not to be named because of the dangers that could arise from the release of the information, told CNN the state TV account was correct. The bodies are those of Syrian secret police killed by Syrian fighters from Iraq who have joined the anti-government fight, said the activist, who gets information about the goings-on in Syria from an extensive network of informants.

That same activist stressed that the antagonists are not representative of the protest movement. Violent fringe elements have appeared during the Syrian tumult. One study last month from the International Crisis Group said some anti-government elements have taken up arms. However, that report said, “the vast majority of casualties have been peaceful protesters, and the vast majority of the violence has been perpetrated by the security services.

The activist said the emergence of this video is a double-edged sword for protesters.

On the one hand, the peaceful demonstrators need to become aware of the existence of fringe elements, he said. This would encourage more people to reject both the regime and these types of attacks and maintain the aims of peaceful protest, he said. At the same time, he added, the incident gives credence to the Syrian government’s assertion that it is targeting “armed gangs.” Such violence, he said, could cause the international community to hesitate in continuing its mounting pressure against the Syrian regime.

Most of the supporters of the revolutionary movement have responded to these videos by asking, “What does anyone expect? Are Syrians to simply wait to be killed? Of course violence will be met by violence. It is natural and the only surprise is that it has been so long in coming.”

This is a compelling argument. The Syrian opposition has been slow to arm in its effort to overthrow the Baathist state. The Free Officers Movement is gathering steam. The most recent video statement by the FOM shows that its membership is growing, although it is still only in the earliest formation. The leader declares that they will defend civilians against the “barbaric actions of the regime and their Shabbiha.” Other armed organizations are taking to the streets but none have officially declared their existence and set out political goals. This will undoubtedly happen in the coming months.

From the outset, this has been a war of videos. This video of a wife saying goodbye to her husband, killed in Hama on Aug 2 is heartbreaking. Such videos act as a call to arms.

The regime will battle to the end and still has much fight in it. The military has many advantageous over the fragmented opposition. It is unlikely that the regime will “collapse,” as some activists suggest or just fade away Ceausescu-like. If it is to be defeated, it will be on the battlefield and by force. It is hard to imagine any other ending. Of course, should both Damascus and Aleppo come out to demonstrate in large numbers, the breakdown of order will be hastened, but the military and Baath Party will not give up. Syria’s divisions are too deep. The fear of revenge and ethnic cleansing will galvanize those who have backed the present order for decades.  Had the Syrian leadership been willing to hand over power peacefully or establish some sort of constitutional convention, it would have done so already.

The poverty and loss of dignity for so many Syrians is a crushing part of Syrian reality. Thirty-two percent of Syrians live on two dollars or less a day. That is a scary figure. It will get much worse as the loss of jobs and economic hardships begin to multiply. Syria is filled with people who have little to lose, who have little education, and few prospects of improving their chances for a better and more dignified life. The potential for violence and lawlessness is large. Most worrying is the lack of leadership among opposition forces.

News Round Up follows

Why Damascus, Aleppo are silent for now
The business elite in these Syrian cities have myriad overlapping interests with the political elite
By Sami Moubayed, Special to Gulf News, August 2, 2011

To date, most residents of Syria’s two main cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have tried to look the other way vis-à-vis the uprising that has broken out in every town and city across the country since mid-March. In these two cities, the markets are still open, banks are still in operation, merchants are still trading, entire families are dining at restaurants, young couples are getting married and, in many cases, enjoying the summer in complete denial of what is happening throughout the rest of Syria. So long as Damascus and Aleppo remain quiet, or neutral at best, the Syrian authorities believe the situation will be under control.

A closer look, however, shows that this argument — although applicable four months ago — is now nothing more than wishful thinking. First, it is wrong to compare Damascus to Aleppo because sympathy with the Syrian uprising is high in the Syrian capital, but low and close to non-existent in Aleppo because of the city’s distance, its relative immunity from the economic crisis (thanks to flourishing business relations with Turkey), and the unique relationship the city has had with President Bashar Al Assad, who has paid it plenty of attention since coming to power in 2000. Additionally, Aleppo paid a terrible price for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood uprising of 1982, and sees how the state is retaliating in other cities today, like Hama and Deir Ezzor. It does not want to suffer a similar fate.

It would be wrong to imagine that residents of the old quarters of Damascus — Shagour, Bab Sharki or Bab Srijeh — would be seen on the streets of the Syrian capital, demonstrating against the regime. This is not French Mandate Damascus, after all, where these quarters are filled with swashbuckling quarter bosses like the ones we see in the popular TV series Bab Al Hara. The reason, basically, is that these quarters in the Old City are now empty; the original residents sold their property years ago, transforming their homes into trendy restaurants and boutique hotels. They collectively moved to the suburbs of Damascus, and today, the original inhabitants of the Syrian capital reside in hotspots like Muadamiyeh, Zabadani, Qaboon, Harasta and Duma. It is the Damascenes then who are demonstrating in these districts, in addition of course, to the original inhabitants of these districts. The sameapplies to Aleppo and its suburbs.

Within the new districts of Damascus and Aleppo, the business elite has been staunchly pro-regime although, ironically, it was the business community of both cities that suffered most from socialism of the Baath Party when it first came to power in 1963. That will likely remain the case for now, due to the weight of their clerics (who are allied to the state), along with the political, social and economic interests of their nobility and business community. In many cases, that nobility is “new money” and rose to power and fame only after the Baathists took over in 1963. The have overlapping interests with the political elite and are often allied to them through business partnerships and marriage, giving them no reason to demonstrate against the existing order.

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Historically speaking, however, both cities can make or break any political movement — but rarely have they been part of anything that threatens stability and their commercial interests. In 1925, for example, rural Syria erupted in revolt against the French Mandate. Damascus very unwillingly joined the revolt of 1925, and when it did, suffered punishment greater than that of all other Syrian cities combined. It was shelled continuously for 48 hours and entire neighborhoods were set ablaze and looted. And Aleppo was not even part of the revolt of 1925. To be fair, although we make reference to the “Aleppo Revolt” in history books, it was the suburbs of Aleppo that revolted against the French. Aleppo itself remained silent. When the revolt calmed in 1927, it was the business elite of both cities that devised the theory of “honorable cooperation” with the government—diplomacy to extract political change, rather than armed revolt.

In Damascus, the merchants used to moan and groan whenever political parties, or youth movements, called on them to close down their shops for anti-government protests in the 1950s. Simply put, as far as the businessmen were concerned, all that meant was financial losses. That mentality still prevails in the old bazaars of Damascus and in the new posh and trendy corporate culture that has mushroomed around banks, insurance companies, advertising and media firms all over the Syrian capital.

The silence of both cities, however, won’t last for too long, for three reasons.

1) Unemployment: The moment rising unemployment kicks in, young people will take to the streets in both Damascus and Aleppo, regardless of what city elders tell them. Many young people are already jobless since March, and if the stalemate continues, they could start finding themselves penniless as well. Ramadan, no doubt, will be a turning point for these two cities.

2) Lack of community leaders: Back in the 1980s, for example, community leaders like Ahmad Kaftaro (the Grand Mufti) and Bader Al Din Al Shallah (doyen of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce) used their influence to pacify angry citizens in Damascus when they sympathised with the Brotherhood. People respected them, listened to them, and often carried out their without any questions. When Shallah famously asked shopkeepers to break the Damascus strike of 1982, they immediately answered his call. Today there are no community leaders with similar clout and standing in Damascus and Aleppo because the Baathists have not allowed any such independent leaders to emerge.

3) Demographics: Damascus, more so than Aleppo, is a melting pot for all Syrians. It is packed with people from rural Damascus, Daraa, Homs, Hama, Idlib and rural Idlib. It is those people who are likely to demonstrate in Damascus, rather than the Damascenes themselves, and those people, naturally, do not take their orders from the business community of Damascus.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Damascus, Syria

Sheila said:

[Moubayed’s] article is on the money. I am originally from Aleppo and come from a big family. I can assure everyone on this blog that Aleppo is boiling under the calm surface. It is only a matter of time before the city erupts. Mark my word.

Look at the pattern in this revolution: it starts with one stupid act by the regime in one of the villages, the village is up in arms, the surrounding villages come to the rescue and then the central city starts demonstrating.

U.S. Boosts Syria Pressure With Sanctions Plan
By Nicole Gaouette and Victoria Pelham – Aug 2, 2011

The U.S. is stepping up the pressure on Syria, ….“Our goal here is to isolate Assad both politically and deny” the regime revenue, Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesman, said yesterday. “We do plan to move forward with additional sanctions under existing authorities, and we’re exploring the scope of those sanctions,” he said.

Ford, who met with Obama two days ago, told senators at his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday that backing the forces of change could give the U.S. a chance to reshape the region.

“We have a real opportunity with change in Syria to see both Iranian influence and Hezbollah influence in the region diminish,” said Ford, a career diplomat who has been serving as ambassador under a December 2010 recess appointment by Obama.

Syria is Iran’s chief ally in the region and both support Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim political group that the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. … Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, and Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, introduced the Syria Sanctions Act of 2011 to target the one-third of the country’s revenue that come from oil and gas exports.

U.S. law bans most trade with Syria. The sanctions bill would extend those restrictions to foreign companies. The measure would require the president to block access to U.S. financial institutions, markets and federal contracts for those who do business with the Syrian energy sector.

Companies that falsely claim not to do business with Syria would be subject to a three-year ban on government contracts. …Sanctions with allies that have greater trade ties with Syria would be more effective, Ford said. He added that “Europeans and Canadians have greater investments in Syria’s energy sector” and that conversations about sanctions with those countries are under way.

“The Syrian government’s latest action will help trigger action, frankly,” Ford said of the recent violence and the international outrage it has generated.

Asking for More

The Syrian activists asked Clinton to have the U.S. do more to rally that kind of international pressure on the Assad regime.

Aoun defends Syrian regime’s crackdown August 2, 2011 Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday defended Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, saying that security forces have the right to suppress “chaos on the streets.”

“It is clear that the intentions of the [Syria] opposition are not good,” he added following his bloc’s weekly meeting.

Syria opposition leader Seif held at Damascus airport

Syrian security agents briefly detained opposition leader Riad Seif at Damascus airport on Monday and prevented him from traveling to Germany to seek treatment for cancer, opposition sources said.

Killing of Libyan rebel commander strengthens resistance to UN condemnation of Syria

By James M. Dorsey

The failure to identify the perpetrators of last week’s mysterious killing of a senior Libyan rebel military commander threatens to undermine fragile unity among Colonel Moammar Qaddafi’s NATO-backed opponents and complicates Western efforts to secure United Nations condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The killing highlights the pitfalls of backing a ragtag armed opposition movement, in which former jihadists together with defectors from Mr. Qaddafi’s forces constitute the primary groups with military experience.

It has also – coupled with allegations that NATO military backing of the rebels violates a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya – made countries like India, China, Russia and Brazil weary of endorsing a council resolution being pushed by the United States and the European Union that would condemn Mr. Assad’s brutal efforts to quell demonstrations in his own country.

Critics like China and Russia, concerned about the spillover effect in their own countries of the Arab revolt that has swept the Middle East and North Africa for the past eight months, worry not only that condemnation of Syria could lead to Western efforts to covertly or overtly topple Mr. Assad but that Libya if repeated in any form or fashion could create a legal precedent for intervention across the globe.

Egyptians Turn Against Liberal Protesters
By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

CAIRO—Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.

Egyptian security forces tear down tents of liberal protesters who had camped in Cario’s Tahrir Square to press military rulers for political reforms.

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.

Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.

“The liberal and leftist groups that were at the forefront of the revolution have lost touch with the Egyptian people,” says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. “These protesters have alienated much of Egypt. For some time they’ve been deceiving themselves by saying that the silent majority is on their side—but all evidence points to the contrary, and Monday’s events confirm that.”

The Last Stand of Bashar al-Assad?

DOHA, Qatar — As Bashar al-Assad’s shock troops storm cities and towns across Syria, leaving a death toll in the triple digits that has only stoked the fires of rebellion even hotter, Barack Obama’s administration is stepping up measures aimed at fatally weakening the Syrian dictator’s regime.

Critics of the U.S. president’s policy, particularly on the right, have long charged his administration with being soft on Assad. But the United States is now unequivocally committed to his ouster, having lost whatever little faith it had in the Syrian leader’s willingness to reform. “He is illegitimate,” a senior administration official says flatly. “We’ve definitely been very clear that we don’t see Assad in Syria’s future.”

…..

Shaikh also advocates putting together an informal “contact group” of concerned countries — as with Libya — with a core group perhaps consisting of the United States, France, Qatar, and Turkey. But the all-important Turks, who share a border with Syria and have hosted thousands of refugees and several opposition meetings, are still hedging their bets. Sunday’s statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry called on the Syrian government to “end the operations and resort to political methods, dialogue and peaceful initiatives in order to reach a solution” — options that the protest movement explicitly abandoned several weeks ago.

……

But few analysts think words will do much to damage the deeply entrenched Syrian regime, and some, like the Century Foundation’s Michael Hanna, worry that Assad could limp on far longer than anyone expects. Nor would multilateral sanctions, even if they do somehow pass the Security Council, have an immediate effect. “It’s unlikely that, short of massive defections within the security services at an elite level, outside pressure is going to change the calculus of the inner circle of the regime,” says Hanna. Instead of being toppled, he cautions, Assad could become another international pariah, like Saddam Hussein or the Burmese junta.

Washington has made its decision, though nobody can say when Assad will go. “He’s on his way out,” says the senior administration official, stressing: “This is about the Syrian people, not about us. They’re the ones that say that they want someone else, and they should be able to choose the government that they want.”

The New Hama Rules By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, August 2, 2011

…. It worked for a long time in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, etc., until it didn’t. Today, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Hafez’s son, is now repeating his father’s mass murdering tactics to quash the new Syrian uprising, again centered in Hama. But, this time, the Syrian people are answering with their own Hama Rules, which are quite remarkable. They say: “We know that every time we walk out the door to protest, you will gun us down, without mercy. But we are not afraid anymore, and we will not be powerless anymore. Now, you leaders will be afraid of us. Those are our Hama Rules.”

This is the struggle today across the Arab world — the new Hama Rules versus the old Hama Rules — “I will make you afraid” versus “We are not afraid anymore.”

Good for the people. It is hard to exaggerate how much these Arab regimes wasted the lives of an entire Arab generation, with their foolish wars with Israel and each other and their fraudulent ideologies that masked their naked power grabs and predatory behavior. Nothing good was possible with these leaders. The big question today, though, is this: Is progress possible without them?

That is, once these regimes are shucked off, can the different Arab communities come together as citizens and write social contracts for how to live together without iron-fisted dictators — can they write a positive set of Hama Rules based not on anyone fearing anyone else, but rather on mutual respect, protection of minority and women’s rights and consensual government?
….

I think the former foreign minister of Jordan, Marwan Muasher, has the right attitude. “One cannot expect this to be a linear process or to be done overnight,” he said to me. “There were no real political parties, no civil society institutions ready to take over in any of these countries. I do not like to call this the ‘Arab Spring.’ I prefer to call it the ‘Arab Awakening,’ and it is going to play out over the next 10 to 15 years before it settles down. We are going to see all four seasons multiple times. These people are experiencing democracy for the first time. They are going to make mistakes on the political and economic fronts. But I remain optimistic in the long run, because people have stopped feeling powerless.”

New sanctions worry Turkish businessmen

Growing turmoil and violence in Syria have the European Union rolling up its sleeves to play a more active role in solving the problem by imposing asset freezes and travel bans. But economic sanctions by countries including Turkey might leave its business interests in the Arab republic in a tight spot

The prospect of more economic sanctions against increasingly strife-torn Syria have Turkish businessmen worried, leading business figures told the Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday.

Growing turmoil and violence in Syria have the European Union rolling up its sleeves to play a more active role in solving the problem by imposing asset freezes and travel bans. But economic sanctions by countries including Turkey might leave its business interests in a tight spot.

“Sanctions imposed previously on other countries have not brought many sustainable solutions to problems,” Rona Yırcalı, the board chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, told the Daily News in a phone interview Tuesday, though he noted that there was not yet much information available about the content of possible sanctions.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is among the top European figures calling for tougher sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. “The sanctions have to come from both Western nations, Arab countries and regional powers like Turkey,” Hague said in an interview Monday, according to the Associated Press. “The sanctions decision could not be made and applied by only Turkey. If the UN decides to apply sanctions, it is a different thing,” Tolga Uçak, the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s information department told the Daily News on Tuesday. “It is not that easy to unite Arab nations to impose international sanctions against Syria,”

Rızanur Meral, the chairman of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey, or TUSKON, told the Daily News. “Arab countries would know that a similar sanction might be imposed on their countries in the future.” According to Meral, the imposition of international sanctions against Syria does not seem possible at this time.

It would be “impossible for Turkey to step back from humanitarian help and sending food and medicine” to Syria, Meral said, adding that other trade items might be discussed according to the context of the sanctions. “It would be hard to control the borders for illegal trade,” he added, noting that Turkey shares its longest border with Syria.

Syrian money rushing to Turkey’s safe harbor

Comments (176)


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1. Aboud said:

“This video made by comparing Google Earth footage of the bridge to the actual video seems fairly conclusive in proving that the footage is new, is from Hama,”

This controversy could have been resolved days ago by the simple act of someone going to the bridge itself and filming it. The fact that not even the sycophantic Dunya TV has been to Hama speaks volumes.

Professor Landis, you do your readers a disservice. Twice now you have neglected to post opposition explanations as to how the bridge in the video could not possibly be the bridge in Hama. The Orontes has been dry for over a month, and there is no such bridge anywhere near Hama.

However, the conclusions in your article about the inevitability of armed conflict is too pessimistic. No one could have foreseen the attempted assassination of Ali Saleh. Not that I expect such a thing to happen to junior, but it just goes to show that in incredibly complex situations such as Syria, there are too many actors and too many variables, that making predictions of any sort is a futile game.

After all, people on this blog were po hoing the very idea of a revolution in Syria, or that it could possibly last this long. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, every resource at the state’s disposal was, for the past 40 years, oriented to preventing just such an occurrence. The opposition in Syria are prepared for a protracted struggle.

But as we have seen, every day that goes by, the regime loses more international support, military capability, and staying power.

By the way, recently I’ve always been the first to comment on a new post. I think I deserve a cookie.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 33

August 3rd, 2011, 4:58 pm

 

2. Aboud said:

“Syria is filled with people who have little to lose, who have little education, and few prospects of improving their chances for a better and more dignified life.”

I myself am not someone with little education, or few prospects at improving my chances for a better life. I have much to lose if Syria turns into another Iraq, and yet I am the first person to reject the idea of “peace at all costs”, which was my very first comment on this website.

The opposition’s demands were at first modest, but the regime’s increasingly bloody response has made its continued existence impossible for the rest of the country to stomach. What people in the world would accept a government that have Dar’a and Hama to their record?

Professor Landis, I will say this for the third time. If a regime deploys tanks to a civilian population, the burden of proof is on *them* to prove it was warranted, and the force used was justified. Have they even come close to doing so? We have all seen how regime supporters on this very website even deny the existence of tanks in Hama.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 30

August 3rd, 2011, 5:13 pm

 

3. Pirouz said:

I’ve been going through the videos looking for clues on the SyA response, particularly the recent moves into Hama.

I don’t find conclusive evidence of artillery indirect fire. The (scant) evidence points to AFV direct fire, suggestive of combat against armed opposition elements (such as direct fire into urban level two positions). I believe the term “shelling” which is being applied actually refers to AFV main armament fire, likely by MBTs.

It is certainly a challenging situation for the SyA to be countering armed opposition elements amidst throngs involved in unlawful assemblies. It is a sure fire recipe for relatively high casualty rates.

The SyA response to the Hama uprising in 1982 took place over a time span of nearly four weeks. It will be interesting to see the duration of the current SyA response.

Thumb up 16 Thumb down 10

August 3rd, 2011, 5:17 pm

 

4. Aboud said:

“It will be interesting to see the duration of the current SyA response. ”

They stayed in Dar’a for three months. As a military mission, did it achieve its objective of silencing all demonstrations there? Nope.

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 27

August 3rd, 2011, 5:24 pm

 

5. Pirouz said:

A lot of political capital is being expended on these current military ops. Territorial integrity appears vital for the regime, so much more so on the peripheries.

Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

August 3rd, 2011, 5:32 pm

 

6. Abu Umar said:

\”161. hsyrian said:

How many innocent peaceful people were killed by these terrorists between 1975 and 1982 ?\”

How many innocent peaceful people in the tens of thousands were killed, jailed, disappeared, tortured by your criminal regime? How many male prisoners were raped with rubber hoses in the dungeons of your regime, taught to them by East German intelligence, so it can maintain its grip on power. Why do you menhebek lunatics expect those whose relatives were killed to be pacifists when your regime has unleashed its arsenal on the people.

Of course, there will be armed groups when the regime slaughters thousands of unarmed protestors. Don’t expect people to go to their graves like sheep. The scumbag Hafez didn’t come to power peacefully nor did his regime maintain its grip on power peacefully. This is war menhebek lunatics and shabeeha khanazeer and those fake jihadists and Salafis will become a reality.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 28

August 3rd, 2011, 5:34 pm

 

7. Youssef said:

Thanks for the excellent article about armed gangs. It is incredible that you have to do such deep digging yourself to emphatically prove the bias and the superficiality of the western media coverage as well as that of al Jazeerah.

The next major debate that requires deep investigation and is unfortunately being ignored, is “outside interference” that support armed gangs and that may be manipulating protesters from inside and outside Syria. The Iraq war and the Iraqi regime change are an obvious factor, as Iran’s regional hegemony after the Iraq war can only be stoped by changing the regime in Syria. This suits the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, millions of Iraqi sunni refugees in Syria, Lebanon’s billionaire Harriri and of course jihadists and al Qaeda who see an opportunity to displace a secular regime and potentially gain a foothold in Syria.

The US should look in the mirror before condemning Syria’s government 1) The Iraq war created the Iranian regional hegemony that now they feel must be stopped through regime change in Syria 2) it dumped millions of Iraqi refugees on Syria 3) Instead of compensating Syria for absorbing the millions of refugees they added fuel to the fire by imposing sanctions which is hurting the Syrian economy 4) on human rights the Maher Arrar rendition case demonstrates the extent of hypocrisy. Was it ok to outsource torture, to the Syrian secret service, of an innocent Canadian Syrian engineer?

Patrick Seale’s voice needs to be amplified, as an authority on Syria and the region, his analysis and conclusions are very well though out but unfortunately completely ignored by the west, exposing the indifference of the western powers to the welfare of Syrian people. In truth they are obviously playing realpolitik, what has changed since the treaty of Versailles and subsequent treaties? P Seale argues eloqeuntly that dialogue with the regime, encouraging and supporting the progress of the Regime offer of dialogue with the opposition, towards a peaceful and gradual transition to Democracy and a multi party system is the only sensible solution to stop blood shed. Any honest person who cares about Syrian blood, Syrian society and Syria’s future prospects must find his logic compelling.

But first things first, who is really capable and willing to dig deep, investigate and uncover evidence of outside interference?

Thumb up 20 Thumb down 6

August 3rd, 2011, 5:42 pm

 

8. AB said:

You do deserve a cookie, Aboud. Landis conclusion is one of many scenarios that can happen. If two million Syrians march towards Junior’s palace, he will flee to Tehran. Syrian people control their destiny. It is matter of how many of them are tried of humiliations and indignity they suffer on a daily basis from the regime.

I have always suspected Landis has connections to this regime. Now we know that his in laws are part of the repression unleashed of the Syrian people. His desperation to vouch for the regime through is in laws is despicable.

[Comment from Joshua Landis: Dear AB. Your suspicions are unfounded. I do not have connections to the regime. My wife is an Alawite, so to the extent that this regime is associated with Alawites, I do have an association. As for her family, none of her direct family is connected to the regime.

My father-in-law, Shaaban Kash`ur, was a Liwa in the Navy, who graduated from the naval academy in Egypt in 1961 under the UAR and retired sixteen years ago in 1995, long before the present uprising. A number of commentators have accused him of participating in the killing of Syrians at Hama in 1982. This is not true. He remained an officer in Syria’s 5,000 man navy throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. He was at sea and not in Hama.

My sister’s brother, Firas, works for a small private import-export company based in Aleppo and Latakia. Her two sisters both live abroad. Maha is an officer working for the UNHCR in Iraq, helping re situate refugees. Dima lives in Rome, where her Moroccan husband is an official with the UN’s World Food Program. They last served in Yemen.

My mother-in-law’s family were Jadidists. Some went to jail and others fled the country. Her three brothers all fled Syria.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:50 pm

 

9. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Pirouz #3 says of the situation in Hama: “The (scant) evidence points to armoured fighting vehicle direct fire [by the Syrian army].” I’m glad you said the evidence is scant, because I haven’t seen evidence that the army’s undertaking in Hama has even started yet. Recall: after the dissidents attacked and killed about 100 security people in Jisr al-Shughur, the army promptly moved to Jisr al-Shughur but stayed outside doing nothing for five whole days before moving in. When they moved in, the armed dissidents had left and thus the army was able to regain control of Jisr without bloodshed. Hama is a bigger nut to crack, but in the present situation, from a military tactics point of view, the army needn’t rush in here either. It can put Hama under seige, and make it clear who’s going to be the winner in a fight, so that the dissidents will slink away without putting up a real fight. Why put Syrian army men’s lives at risk, where the risk of army lives lost can be reduced by having the army dawdle outside the city, saber rattling, for five or so days.

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:55 pm

 

10. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Joshua says: “There is no doubt that the vast majority of the opposition was peaceful and was being met with deadly government force and snipers.” That’s asserting that the Syrian government has been lying and lying. I assert on the contrary that the Syrian government has been telling the truth and telling the truth.

Joshua says: “Had the Syrian leadership been willing to hand over power peacefully or establish some sort of constitutional convention, it would have done so already.” The Syrian leadership is in no way willing to hand over power to an empty void or to a rabble of dissidents. The leadership has the sincere willingness to revise the Constitution and have free and fair elections in Syria, together with a more independent mass media. There’s no urgency about holding elections soon because opposition parties need time to be born.

Joshua says: “If it [the Assad regime] is to be defeated, it will be on the battlefield and by force. It is hard to imagine any other ending.” Okay. Yet, it is even harder to imagine that the regime could be defeated on the battlefield. Thus the regime just isn’t defeatable. Therefore every civilized Syrian should get on board with the reforms that are coming. When evaluated by the democratizing propositions of the dissidents, there’s nothing about the government’s reform propositions that’s incomplete or inadequate — once the imminent revision of the Constitution is carried through (which they’re indicating will be happening in the fourth quarter of this year).

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August 3rd, 2011, 5:58 pm

 

11. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

I agree with Aboud (and not for the first time. 😉 ). So many baseless axioms and groundless premises. “…both cities (Dimashq and Haleb) can make or break any political movement”. Really? Says who? Do you have a lot of experience with uprisings in Syria, that you can base your definiteness on facts or on previous experiences from an uprise in Syria? Or, “…The regime will battle to the end”. How do you know that? Same experience with earlier uprisings in Syria?

The truth is that no one knows what is next. We can wakeup one sunny morning, and find out that Bashar was assassinated during the night, or he’s in Tehran or he’s in London, or he’s in jail. No one can be certain about what’s going to happen in 8 hours from now.
.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:10 pm

 

12. Tara said:

AB

I urge you to please reconsider your statement in regard to professor Landis. I am very much anti-regime and that is a well known fact on SC. Yet, I find him fair and balanced. He is an academic and always behaved as such. Please Feel free to disagree and be vocal about any specific statement or concept you may have in regard to his analysis but let’s refrain from unfounded accusations. This revolution has maintained for the most part superior moral ground and we the revolution’s supporters need to do the same.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:17 pm

 

13. Abughassan said:

The only controversial aspect of the armed thugs story is that both sides are lying about it.
The regime exaggerates and the opposition underestimates,or even denies,the size of the problem. The main problem in Syria is still the regime and how to change it without driving the country into a civil war. I have to seriously doubt the integrity of anybody Syrian or not who can now say with a straight face that the only side that is killing people is the regime. However,most of us know that the majority of those who died were actually killed by the regime,and many of them,or most according to certain sources,were unarmed.
The key is in the hands of top Generals and community leaders who can influence the army and assure them that there is life after Bashar and that minorities in Syria will be ok if he leaves. Getting to this point also requires political initiatives by Sunni leaders and certain guarantees that are given to those Generals. When I spoke of good news coming from Syria,that was the story but as always,when violence breaks out,only guns are allowed to speak.I can only say this much before I am being accused of spreading false info: there will be no dialogue with senior army/community leaders and the opposition as long as violence and lawlessness persist,the coming days will tell if I was wrong or not.it is sad that foreign diplomats get this simple fact but many Syrians do not.there is a decision not to allow Ramadan to become the month when street kings create their own protectorates and safe havens and establish a new norm in Syria which will kill any future attempt for this regime to withdraw peacefully. Bashar was asked to draw a plan for his exit from politics along with top baathi figures,he seems willing to leave if a timetable and certain guarantees are given. I am not bluffing here 🙂
People who wants him to run again may have to get used to seeing him running away,but I am absolutely against any effort to remove him by force or use the army in a future power struggle that may be brewing (aboud)..

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:20 pm

 

14. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Joshua says: “Had the Syrian leadership been willing to establish some sort of constitutional convention, it would have done so already.” The National Dialog Initiative was and is a sort of constitutional convention by another name. The new constitution will be written by today’s leadership. The leadership has been listening to advice about it from all quarters. As I’ve said a dozen times before, the Assad party is going to win by a wide margin in free and fair elections and today’s leadership has nothing to fear from full modernization of electoral politics. Here’s one of the reasons why the Syrian leadership finds full electoral representation to be desirable. The words of Bashar Assad on 20 June 2011:

I aimed, through these [recent] meetings [with citizens], to have a more in depth knowledge of reality, but I found myself at the heart of genuine national dialogue. National dialogue is not restricted to specific elites. It is not a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, neither is it necessarily limited to political issues. It is a dialogue between the different sections of society about all national issues…. There is no doubt that I was part of a national dialogue; nevertheless, I cannot claim to have accomplished it, because in the end I am only an individual and those I met were hundreds or thousands, and the country includes tens of millions. Hence, the basic idea was to launch a national dialogue in which the widest social, intellectual, and political stakeholders take part in an institutional forum.

…. [The current phase of the national dialog forum] will push forward the political, social, and economic dynamics in our country until political parties can play a wider role in public life after a new party law is passed.”

It’s an easy extension of the above language to say that a full-fledged democratic parliament would be a good institutional forum for national dialog on an ongoing basis in Syria.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:31 pm

 

15. AB said:

Tara, I was not trying to attack Landis. I do object to him using statements made to him by his in laws in the military as proof of the governments version of the story. His in laws were sent to crush the protestors and can’t possibly be considered independent observers.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:34 pm

 

16. beaware said:

The Internationalist
The Egyptian impasse raises a sobering question: whether a revolution can succeed without violence
July 31, 2011|By Thanassis Cambanis

http://articles.boston.com/2011-07-31/bostonglobe/29836157_1_tahrir-square-secret-police-regime

CAIRO – When Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned after 18 days of public demonstrations here last winter, Tahrir Square instantly took its place in the world’s iconography of peaceful protest. Young men and women brandishing nothing more lethal than shoes and placards had toppled a dictator. One subversive slogan – “The people want the fall of the regime” – in the mouths of a million people overpowered a merciless police state.

It was not bloodless; some 846 people were killed by police and regime thugs, according to an Egyptian government inquiry. But for the protesters, and for people watching around the world, Egypt’s uprising appeared a heartening entry in the history of successful nonviolent movements stretching from Gandhi and Martin Luther King to the “velvet revolutions” that unraveled the Iron Curtain in 1989.

That was half a year ago. Today, Mubarak’s military council runs the country, wielding even more power than before when it had to share authority with the president’s family and civilian inner circle. The military has detained thousands of people after secret trials, accused protesters of sedition, and issued only opaque directives about the country’s path toward a constitution and a new elected civilian government.

As time passes and revolutionary momentum fades in the broader public, a new current of thought is arising among the protesters who still occupy Tahrir Square, demanding civilian rule and accountability for former regime figures. Many are now asking an unsettling question: What if nonviolence isn’t the solution? What if it’s the problem?

“We have not yet had a true revolution,” said Ayman Abouzaid, a 25-year-old cardiologist who has taken part in every stage of the revolution so far. At the start, Abouzaid wholeheartedly embraced nonviolence, but now believes that only armed vigilante attacks will force the regime to purge the secret police and other operatives who still retain their jobs from the Mubarak era. “We need to take our rights with our own hands,” he says.

Among the dedicated core of Egyptian street activists who have been at the forefront of the protests since the beginning, an increasing number have begun to argue that a regime steeped in violence will respond only to force. Egypt’s revolution appeared nonviolent, they argue, only because it wasn’t a revolution at all: it was a quiet military coup that followed the resignation of the president. They cast a glance at nearby Syria and Libya, still racked by sustained violent revolts against their authoritarian leaders, and wonder if that may be what a true revolution looks like.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:35 pm

 

17. Aboud said:

“I assert on the contrary that the Syrian government has been telling the truth and telling the truth.”

For someone that’s been telling the truth so much, they have provided scant little evidence to back up their truth. It is unprecedented in the history of truth telling.

“The Syrian leadership is in no way willing to hand over power to an empty void or to a rabble of dissidents.”

You mean like how Egypt and Tunisia did? The opposition has clearly stated that what they want is a transitional period. Without junior.

Say what you want about Mubarak, but at least he had the good sense to go when he knew he wasn’t wanted and save the country more lost lives. Just how incompetent a leader must junior be to make even Mubarak look good?

“Thus the regime just isn’t defeatable”

It is most definitely defeatable. Put aside the fact that, historically, much stronger militaries than the Besho Brigade have been defeated by a determined and dedicated rebellion, its track record so far is atrocious.

How can you seriously believe the regime’s claims that it is fighting a Salafi insurgency, while also being content with the fact that in five months it has not managed to overcome or subdue this alleged insurgency. After five months, you cannot tell us the name of one leader or group of this armed insurgency. It defies belief.

“Therefore every civilized Syrian should get on board with the reforms that are coming.”

Why is Najati Tayara still in jail if your president’s reforms are so genuine?

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:37 pm

 

18. beaware said:

Velvet Or Violent: What Makes A Successful Revolution?

Listen

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2011/08/03/velvet-violent-revolution

Many have praised the non-violent protests that pushed Egyptian Hosni Mubarak from power this year. But some activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square say the revolution hasn’t resulted in the democracy they wanted, and violence may be needed.

Thanassis Cambanis writes in the Boston Globe: “Among the dedicated core of Egyptian street activists who have been at the forefront of the protests since the beginning, an increasing number have begun to argue that a regime steeped in violence will only respond to force.”
Guests:

* Thanassis Cambanis, journalist and author of “A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel.”
* Mahmoud Salem, blogger known as Sand Monkey

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

19. Tara said:

I find Lebanon dissociating itself from the security council statement today to be despicable. I am not pro-Harriri at all but it is a known fact that the ordinary Lebanese have suffered too tremendously from the oppression of the Syrian regime and their attitude today is very hypocrite. If they like Bashar so much, they can keep him. Will be very happy to give him up.

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:51 pm

 

20. Abughassan said:

Thanks Josh for reminding your readers that there is always two sides for any story. There are people on this blog who only use one ear and are not ready to listen to the other side.
I know as a fact that there are armed anti government thugs in Syria ,however,I still blame the regime for oppressing citizens for over 40 years and failing to prepare Syria for the huge demographic,political and economic challenges that we are facing today.
People who speak the truth should not fear criticism.keeping discussion civil is not always possible when emotions are high.
You have to give Josh credit for sharing the fact that he is married to a Syrian and that two of her relatives are in the Syrian army, he did not have to reveal this info to his readers if he was working for the regime. The poster who quickly decided that two soldiers in the Banyas story were oppressing Syrians and are part of a sinful campaign must be ashamed of himself,but then you can not install shame into somebody’s psyche..

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August 3rd, 2011, 6:57 pm

 

21. Aboud said:

“You have to give Josh credit for sharing the fact that he is married to a Syrian”

It’s common knowledge, these days it’s impossible to hide such information on the Internet. No Klue made a joke in very bad taste about it.

“I know as a fact that there are armed anti government thugs in Syria ”

Then kindly fire off an email to CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya with your proof, because Al-DUHnya haven’t provided a shred of reliable evidence.

“People who speak the truth should not fear criticism”

and yet you then go on to say this

“The poster who quickly decided that two soldiers in the Banyas story were oppressing Syrians and are part of a sinful campaign must be ashamed of himself,”

You are quite hypocritical. The guy was speaking his mind. It’s called free speech, and completely acceptable unless someone calls someone’s mother a whore.

“I find Lebanon dissociating itself from the security council statement today to be despicable.”

Tara, in most of Syria, the regime has been overthrown. I look forward to the Lebanese finally gaining their independence from junior…a full six years after the last Syrian soldier withdrew from there. Geeeesh, Lebs. Seriously…..

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August 3rd, 2011, 7:10 pm

 

22. beaware said:

Syria Sends In Tanks to Storm Center of Rebellious City
By NADA BAKRI
Published: August 3, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/world/middleeast/04syria.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=global-home
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Ignoring mounting condemnations, the Syrian military deployed tanks, armored vehicles and snipers Wednesday into the symbolic center of Hama, a rebellious city that has emerged as a linchpin of the nearly five-month uprising, in what appeared a decisive step by President Bashar al-Assad to crush opposition to his rule.
The military’s assault on Assi Square, the scene of some of the biggest demonstrations against Mr. Assad’s leadership, marked a moment that many activists and residents had thought impossible: The government’s determination to retake by force a city that suffered one of the most brutal crackdowns in Syrian history in 1982.

But the government, whose calculations continue to mystify its own people and run the risk of invigorating the uprising, seemed to view the momentum of demonstrations there that numbered in the hundreds of thousands last month as a threat to its survival. The critical mass of the uprising there has spread to Deir al-Zour in restive eastern Syria, and together, the locales represent two of Syria’s five largest cities.

“The regime wants to finish with Hama as soon as possible,” said Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University in Beirut.

Activists and residents in Hama said the city was under nearly continuous gunfire since the early hours of the day, with the tanks heading toward Assi Square before dawn. Amid scenes of confusion, they reported many casualties, adding to the toll since Sunday of more than 100 people, by activists’ count. They said some residents had tried to stop the advancing armored columns with barricades, many of them built of furniture, iron railing, rocks and cinderblocks, but stood little chance against the military’s might.

“The army is now stationed in Assi Square,” read a post on the Syrian Revolution Facebook page. “The heroic youths of Hama are confronting them.”

The government’s calculus — tentative efforts at reform made meaningless by a relentless escalation of violence – has plunged Syria into its deepest international isolation in decades. A crackdown that has killed more than 1,500 people, according to the United Nations, citing human rights groups, has given more resilience and fervor to an uprising that, for weeks, managed to turn out protests only in the thousands.

That the assault came during Ramadan, a holy, usually festive month on the Muslim calendar when the observant fast from dawn to dusk, made the violence even more egregious in the view of the Syria government’s critics. The government appeared to fear vows by the opposition to escalate the uprising, taking advantage of crowds that assembled in mosques for nightly prayers.

“Hama is under the fire for three days in this holy month of Ramadan,” said an opposition leader in Damascus, who asked not to be named. “Syrians are still in shock and they will wake up and protest against the Assad regime. No one can imagine that people there cannot find bread to eat, water to drink and electricity when it’s so hot.”

Mr. Assad’s attempt to seize Hama came despite growing world opprobrium of his suppression of a movement that has so far remarkably defied his military and security forces. Activists have managed to get their message out despite the government’s ban on most foreign journalists, often through grisly homemade videos of its victims.

The Hama assault was a catalyst for some action by the United Nations Security Council, where members agreed for the first time since the uprising started on a statement condemning the violence in Syria. The council’s statement placed the blame on Mr. Assad’s leadership while calling for restraint on both sides.

Though still stopping short of calling for his departure, the United Nations and Western nations led by the United States and European Union have grown increasingly critical of Mr. Assad, who inherited power from his father, Hafez, in 2000. Turkey, once one of Syria’s closest allies, and even Russia have expressed anger over the crackdown.

“What’s going on in Hama today is an atrocity,” said Arinc Bulent, the deputy prime minister of Turkey, in some of the strongest comments yet. Those responsible, he said Wednesday, “can’t be our friend. They are making a big mistake.”

The occupation of Hama coincided with the start of another captivating event in the Arab world — the televised trial of Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president whose fall from power and prosecution have resonated throughout the Middle East as a reminder to Mr. Assad and other autocrats to the limits of uncontested power.
“Today Egypt’s Mubarak is in the court for accusations that he was behind the killing of protesters and tomorrow the officials of Assad regime will face the same destiny,” the opposition leader said. “The world won’t forget what’s happening.”

There was widespread speculation that the Syrian forces deliberately timed the invasion of Hama to coincide with the trial of Mr. Mubarak, which was being held in Cairo and covered live by most satellite news channels, some of which have given heavy coverage to the Syrian popular uprising that started in mid-March.

“It’s obvious that they used the Mubarak trial to distract the public from the attack,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, reached by phone in London. “We might be witnessing another massacre in Hama.”

Omar Habbal, an activist with the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group involved in organizing and documenting protests, said that three tanks took positions in Assi Square, and that snipers were positioned on rooftops surrounding the square. Online posts and social networking sites said water, electricity and communication lines were cut in Hama and its surrounding villages and towns.

“They entered the city from all sides,” said Mr. Habbal, reached by phone in Hama, which is in central Syria. “We don’t know where the fire is coming from, but despite that, people in their neighborhoods are still shouting anti-regime slogans.”

Mr. Habbal said that at least one resident died when a bomb hit his house.

Shaam, an online video channel sympathetic to protesters, posted a video dated Aug. 3 that showed at least one tank attacking a neighborhood. The narrator says it is Hayy al-Hader in Hama. Heavy plumes of smoke could be seen in the video rising into the sky. In other videos, smoke curled over the city, and gunfire ricocheted off streets.

The Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mail that the shelling was concentrated in two neighborhoods that have witnessed large protests, Janoub al-Mala’ab and Manakh. The group said security forces were firing at residents attempting to flee the city, and that one building and several houses had collapsed from heavy shelling.

The army has surrounded Hama since Sunday when it carried out a predawn attack on the city, which had largely been free of armed troops since June.

To its residents and other Syrians, Hama carries a special resonance. In 1982, under the orders of Mr. Assad’s father, the military attacked the city to crush an Islamist uprising there, killing as many as 10,000 people, and perhaps many more.

Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Anthony Shadid from Cairo and Neil MacFarquhar from the United Nations.

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August 3rd, 2011, 7:11 pm

 

23. Tara said:

Aboud

I like very much Aljazeera Album Madina about Homs. Have you watched it? What is happening with Omar Al Ferra, the poet? Please don’t tell me he is mnhebak.

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August 3rd, 2011, 7:13 pm

 

24. Tara said:

Aboud

Yes. Politics aside, I feel bad for ordinary Lebanese. Their country is still enslaved one way or the other by Jr. Atassi linked a disgusting video few weeks ago of a Baathist shabeeh terrorizing a girl pharmacist.

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August 3rd, 2011, 7:18 pm

 

25. beaware said:

UN Security Council Condemns Syrian Violence

The United States and European members had pressed for a resolution, which is stronger than the presidential statement that was adopted. But their efforts were blocked by Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, who feared a resolution could lead to a similar situation as the one in Libya, where the Council authorized a no-fly zone and targeted bombings to protect anti-government protesters from attack by leader Moammar Gadhafi’s security forces….

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/Death-Toll-Mounts-in-Syria-as-UN-Debates-Resolution-126653473.html

As Syrian tanks shelled the flashpoint town of Hama Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council overcame months of division and strongly condemned the on-going violence. The U.N.’s most powerful body expressed “grave concern” at the deteriorating situation in Syria, where some 1,700 people have died and thousands more have been arrested or disappeared since the government began a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in mid-March. It was not easy for the Council to reach consensus.

In its statement, the Security Council condemned the “widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.” The Council also called on the Syrian authorities “to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under international law,” and warns that those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

The Security Council also demanded the immediate end to all violence and urged restraint on both sides, including attacks against state institutions – a reference to violence committed by demonstrators and included to satisfy Russia and other members who felt blaming the government alone was unfair. But Western diplomats have stressed that one cannot equate what protesters have done in self-defense to what the government has perpetrated against its own people.

The Council also stressed that the only solution to the crisis is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that aims to “address the legitimate aspirations and concerns” of the Syrian people. And it notes that the Assad government has promised reforms, but has failed to make progress in implementing them and urged the government to fulfill its commitments.

But after the full council adopted the statement, Syria’s close ally and neighbor, Lebanon, employed a rarely used procedural loophole and “disassociated” itself from the statement.

Deputy Ambassador Caroline Ziade:

“And while we express our deep regret for the loss of innocent victims and we offer our condolences to their families, we hope for Syria, the people and country, we hope that reform will lead to progress and prosperity,” said Ziade. “But since Lebanon considers that the statement being discussed in our meeting today does not help in addressing the current situation in Syria, therefore, Lebanon disassociates itself from this presidential statement.”

But British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said that Lebanon’s disassociation was neither unprecedented nor does it detract from the Council’s unanimous and clear message to the Syrian regime.

“Barbarous acts must cease in Syria,” said Lyall Grant. “The country must find its way onto a path of stability. This will only be achieved through the immediate cessation of violence and the implementation without delay of profound political reforms, respect of human rights and fundamental liberties, and genuine accountability for atrocities against protesters.”

The United States and European members had pressed for a resolution, which is stronger than the presidential statement that was adopted. But their efforts were blocked by Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, who feared a resolution could lead to a similar situation as the one in Libya, where the Council authorized a no-fly zone and targeted bombings to protect anti-government protesters from attack by leader Moammar Gadhafi’s security forces.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has been very vocal in calling for a cessation of violence in Syria, said the intensified military crackdown of the past several days has been “brutally shocking.”

“Once again I call on President Assad and the Syrian authorities to immediately cease all violence against their people, to fully respect human rights and implement reforms they have already announced,” he said. “I further urge them to comply with the Security Council’s demand to allow independent and unimpeded access to international humanitarian agencies and to cooperate fully with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.”

Mr. Ban told reporters that all killings should be investigated fully, independently and transparently, and those responsible should be held accountable.

Under the terms of the Security Council statement, Mr. Ban must update the Council within the next seven days on the situation in Syria.

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August 3rd, 2011, 7:23 pm

 

26. Tara said:

Just heard on Aljazeera that Abu Remane is out demonstrating asking for Isqat al nizam.. Finally, the upper middle class in Damascus starting to get mobilized. I am glad they have finally woke up. Post Taraweeh demonstrations are everywhere. Deir al zour appears very big.

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August 3rd, 2011, 7:33 pm

 

27. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

The best way to understand Joshua’s “armed gangs controversy” is to watch the video of the armed gangs firing their guns in Hama — the one that Joshua linked to on Monday, namely http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzqboPoxq5A

If you’ve seen that already, you’ll remember that for most of it, and for all of the best parts of it, the scene is rotated by 90 degrees, meaning you have to bend your neck out sideways to watch it at youtube. Tonight on Syrian State TV there was a 45-minute talk program dedicated to “armed gangs in Hama”. It replayed much of the same footage, but rotated by 90 degrees. You can see tonight’s program at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGQE4SFNGrA but you won’t see any new footage from Hama in it.

Speaking for myself, I found the original video was worth watching properly, which I did in two steps:

(1) downloaded the video from youtube to my local machine using the free program at DownloadHelper.net (you could also use the free program at youtubedownload.altervista.org or various others).
(2) I watched the video on my local machine with a video playback program with the feature to rotate the video image by 90 degrees, such as the free programs “VLC Media Player” downloadable at VideoLAN.org and “SMPlayer” downloadable at smplayer.sourceforge.net

A policeman in Hama testified that his police station was attacked by “about 500 armed men” (that’s an overestimate, I hope) at 6 o’clock in the morning (either on Sunday or Monday of this week, I belive). “Those armed men do not want the homeland to be secure. All they want is sabotage as they cut the streets for more than 15 days and no one can move or go to get some bread.”

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August 3rd, 2011, 8:04 pm

 

28. Observer said:

Professor Landis i find this report about violence to be disingenuous for the following reasons:
1. SANA and the organs of the regime press are not independent and are part and parcel of the regime’s structure.
2. The ability to fabricate stories is tilted in favor of the regime whereas the opposition has cell phone cameras only at its disposal.
3. The use of force from the outset was meant to crush the opposition and in case of resistance to lend credence to the stories of armed gangs and infiltrators a story line that was present from day one.
4. Attempts to create sectarian strife on the part of the regime were evident for some time now with the aim of dividing the opposition, buy time, paint them as of one color that of the MB, and consolidate the support of the Alawi community around the inner circle.
5. Aleppo and Damascus have not been able to show dissent because in part of the very heavy security presence in cities very close to the presence of the inner circle.
6. All of these interpretations that are offered today are just that interpretations without real independent and objective verifications as the UN human rights commission has not be allowed in. The Red Cross has a tradition to keep its reports confidential for the sake of being able to function without hindrance. Allowing outside press and independent observers and human rights organizations access is the answer to these speculations offered here today.
7. Hama is an irrefutable demonstration of the peaceful nature of the protests if left alone and the response of the regime is an irrefutable demonstration of the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force and collective punishment. Cutting the electricity and water supply on cities is akin to the Nazis in Warsaw and to the Israelis in Genin and Gaza and arguable crimes against humanity.
8. The regime may or may not collapse and it may do so from within or from without meaning from the people or from the power brokers within the regime; nevertheless the country will not return to a previous state of affairs before 3.15.2011 and it is clear that this desire for return to this status ante is the only vision that the regime has for itself and for Syria. The regime is responsible and is alone responsible in my opinion for the descent into civil war if genuine and long lasting reforms do not occur immediately.
9. As in military jargon, no plan survives intact once the first bullet is fired meaning that numerous variables are in play when it comes to the final outcome of any conflict including the following important elements
a) the regime may lose control of the armed forces
b) the predicted responses may not be foreseen
c) the point of no return may be reached without any one being able to pull away from the brink
The scenarios are numerous, but a return to status ante means Syria becoming North Korea.

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August 3rd, 2011, 8:31 pm

 

29. PeacefulReforms_J said:

There is no more denying to the extreme violence committed by what seems to be left-over salafis from the Iraq war.
In this video a human butcher shop in Homs: Warning(Very Graphic)

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=239809752716048

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August 3rd, 2011, 8:53 pm

 

30. Sheila said:

The Armed Gangs Controversy
Dear Dr. Landis:
I am still trying to figure out why you think “The Armed Gangs Controversy” has any relevance in the grand scheme of things. There are certain facts that no sane person can deny:
1-The Syrian regime have no credibility non whatsoever with the Syrian people. Never had. Never will.
2-The Syrian TV has always been a propaganda machine for the regime.
3-If the “Armed Gang” scenario is widely prevalent, the Syrian regime would be served best by allowing foreign reports to roam the country free and uncover all these criminals. It is clear that there is a lot more criminality being perpetrated by the regime that needs to be concealed from the prying eyes of the media.
4-When you say:”. So far, no evidence has surfaced to demonstrate that Syrian military have shot their fellow soldiers for refusing to carry out orders.” you are ignoring all the video clips that we all watched on youtube of soldiers who claim that they have witnessed this happen in front of their own eyes. You are also ignoring the many families that received the corpses of their sons with bullets in the back. One could argue that the “Armed Gangs” killed them. Unfortunately for those, some of these young men had talked to their parents before they were killed and told them that they were ordered to shoot unarmed civilians and informed their parents that they are going to be killed if they disobeyed the orders.
5-It is an established fact that Syrians are afraid to speak their minds even behind closed doors. Till this day, when I call my parents, they praise our “beloved” president for protecting the country. My brother, who came to visit me recently, reassured me that my parents, along with almost everybody else we know, are completely behind the people. So, when you describe: “`Uday told us that two military trucks were ambushed as they crossed a highway bridge by well armed men who were hiding behind the median of the highway and on the tops of buildings at the edge of the road. They raked the two trucks with automatic fire, killing nine.”. Did it ever occur to you that poor ‘Uday who happens to be a Colonel in the army, really has no other choice but to say this?. Did you think that he would tell you the truth, knowing full well who you are and what you do?.
6-This is for me the most important fact: the Syrian regime is a mafia that managed to completely destroy Syria over all these years.
In conclusion, I would like to argue that whether the armed gangs exist or not is utterly irrelevant. Because, even if you feel that the Syrian regime is conveying some truth, (I believe that there are definitely some armed individuals or “gangs” among the people), you have to admit that in light of all the established facts overwhelmingly supporting the lack of credibility for this regime, this does not change anything.

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:25 pm

 

31. Akbar Palace said:

Hot Under the Collar

Professor Josh,

Tell us again why you think Assad is the best “choice” for Syria.

Thanks.

Alex said at the beginning of Obama’s presidency:

Syria will wait patiently until that change takes place, during the Obama administration’s term hopefully, but there is no rush.

And this gem from our resident “brain trust” owner:

“US-Syrian relations have been deteriorating for some months now, and Syria is losing hope in any peace deal, and that means that there’s gong to be conflict between Syria and Israel,” says Joshua Landis, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. “Syria’s strategy is going to be to try to isolate the US in the Middle East, and to hang Israel around America’s neck.”

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:44 pm

 

32. Dale Andersen said:

From the EU/CIA/Jew/Saudi/Salafist/al-Qaeda press

RE: The UN Rebuke of Besho

“…In an odd voting twist, Lebanon joined the 15-member consensus required to pass a presidential statement, but then “disassociated” itself from the result. The statement “does not help in addressing the current situation,” said Caroline Ziade, Lebanon’s deputy permanent representative, in a widely anticipated move given that Syria has held sway over the Lebanese government for decades…”

So Lebanon is still a colony of Syria, complete with toadies and lackeys like Caroline Ziade doing Besho’s bidding. I guess she doesn’t want the al-Mukhabarat assassinating any more Lebanese prime ministers…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dale_Andersen/hama-shelling-reported-syria_n_917261_100838363.html

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:47 pm

 

33. Syrialover said:

If you want to break your heart over Syria and break it again study the video of the soldiers at Jisr ash-Shaghour before they were shot. Think about who they are, where they come from, their families, their home town friends,their neighbours. How little say they have in their own destiny. Those who shot those healthy, strong young men are killing Syria itself, the heart of Syria. They have no sound rationale, they are just adding and adding to the suffering and damage.

Those murderers have no moral high ground over the vile Asads. In a sense, they are even worse for killing people who are in a role where they are pawns in this conflict.

Joshua is right, the idea that these men were shot by fellow soldiers is stupid and implausible and those who spread this claim can share guilt with their killers.

After the fall of Asad, may the day also come when every Syrian who has a family member who has done military service can see justice against those killers.

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:48 pm

 

34. Aboud said:

The bigger the lie, the more convulsed and complicated the story must become to sustain it. The regime would have the world believe that undefined, unknown armed gangs, financed by undefined, unknown foreign powers, have overnight sprung up in every single province in Syria.

Here is the simple truth;

Massive demonstrations in Dar’a, the military gets sent in.
Massive demonstrations in Homs, the military gets sent in.
Massive demonstrations in Telkelakh, the military gets sent in.
Massive demonstrations in Hama, the military gets sent in.
Massive demonstrations in Deir el Zour, the military gets sent in.

Keep it simple, stupid. Stop trying to muddy the crystal clear waters. The truth is simple, the lie is complicated.

A few posts ago professor Landis himself stated that the military option had failed. What does it say about the competence of the Baathists, that they keep doing the same thing, and expect a different result? That’s the classic definition of insanity.

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:51 pm

 

35. Ali said:

abu umar

(edited for personal insults. This is your first warning)

have a nice day

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:55 pm

 

36. Aboud said:

The shabiha ekhwat el sharmouta attacking a wake in Sarmen. I want every single (edited for insult) baathist (edited) on this forum to tell me where are the armed gangs in this clip? When all this is over, we will turn Hafez’s grave into a public toilet.

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ_o348kECc&feature=player_embedded

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSu1RU4Kujc&feature=player_embedded

And you pussies whine if someone fires back? To hell with every shabiha scum shit, may they all rot at the bottom of every river in Syria.

@34 I will personally piss on the next shabiha that gets caught, and jam a picture of junior down his throat and up his ass.

@32 May the scum who shot up a funeral burn in the lowest depths of hell, right next to Hafez Al-fassad. Tha tha tha tha.

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:55 pm

 

37. Sheila said:

I want to share this paragraph by The talented Amal Hanano with all of you who still support the Syrian regime:

“One of the most moving chants of this revolution is al-mawt wa la al-mazalleh, “We would rather die, than be humiliated.” They chant against humiliation, not murder, not torture, not rape, not imprisonment, just against the shame of submitting to live with heads bowed low. For the deluded Syrians who still believe their karameh, dignity remains intact: as long as you need a bribe to get anything done; as long as you fear to speak your mind; as long as his picture hovers above you by force; then all of you, no exclusions, from the powerful to the marginalized, experience daily humiliation. It is the one trait that unites us all.”

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August 3rd, 2011, 9:56 pm

 

38. Abughassan said:

Armed thugs killed a second leader of the SSNP in Idleb using the same car when they killed Samir Qantari. The SSNP is not very popular among the jihadists nowadays …
سلميه؟
A gruesome video surfaced on YouTube showing the mutilation and beating of an already dead security officer in dayr alzour with insulting slogans in the background and few people saying : الديريه دبيحه
سلميه?
I condemn violence from all sides, those who overlook violence committed by people who share their political beliefs are not trustworthy but morally corrupt. If you want the higher moral grounds,you do not assassinate,mutilate and destroy. A loss is a loss whether the victim is an army officer or an ordinary citizen.
This Ramadan will be bloody unfortunately.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:04 pm

 

39. Aboud said:

@37 Prove it was people in the opposition, or spare us your self righteous blah blah blah.

“A gruesome video surfaced on YouTube showing the mutilation and beating of an already dead security officer in dayr alzour with insulting slogans in the background and few people saying ”

(edited, you made your point, unnecessary insult)

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:07 pm

 

40. MM said:

Clearly, you are drinking the Kool Aid, Dr. Landis.

You have choosen to believe there is an armed element to the opposition, one that somehow apparently resulted in the deaths of 180 security forces in Jisr al-Shughour. Could they have possibly been that effective? Where are these people, who killed the security forces, today? If this was the case, I would have expected Maher to level the city. 180 security personnel, killed by persons till today unknown – albeit “armed gangs” – Sorry, not buying it. If you told me 10 – OK, I can see how that is possible. A few here, a few there. But 180 in one night? This was a coordinated force that would exact this level of casualty, one only maintained by the government itself. We still don’t know who it is.

We do know that there are civilians that are armed by the government and baathists, the shabiha. So yes, there are armed gangs in Syria. No doubt about it. In fact, State TV is right – the gangs are deployed everywhere. Are they a part of the opposition? No. They are fighting for the status quo.

As to who killed your wife’s cousin, don’t expect his relative to implicate the government while he is in Syria, while he is a member of the Army. Till this day, my own family is denying anything at all is occurring in Syria. Everything is “normal” and Al-Jazeera is “lying.” They are saying this, obviously, out of fear. I have no doubt he saw armed civilians attacking them, but who gave them the orders? Who armed them? You provide no evidence that they were opposition members. The fact that they were well armed should ring alarm bells – who in Syria would have this capacity? The fact that this took place very early on in the revolution should serve as a spark to the mental lightbulb. Is this part of the greater overall strategy that the Syrian Government concocted in response to protests, to justify escalation? (Remember that memo – you said it was fake, no reason why it’s fake, you just concluded it was!). I have chastised you on several occasions that you are making conclusory statements without any evidence of support. Not even a scintilla. If you were litigating this case, it wouldn’t survive a motion to dismiss. You immediately linked these armed men to the opposition without even blinking. How did you do that? In fact, I read the paragraph several times over, trying to read between the lines. You made a seamless transition to establishing that it was a armed element in civilian garb, to saying that they were the opposition elements. Is there not a question in your mind, otherwise?

You do acknowledge that the Shabbiha are a civilian force that is armed by the government. Yes or No? Or do you deny their existence?

How can we differentiate between the Shabbiha and “legitimate” government forces?

Given that there are civilians armed by the government operating on their behalf, how are you differentiating between this fighting force and the opposition?

I’d like to ask you some tough questions. Please explain:
-What, if any, connections you have to the Syrian government?
-What is the nature and extent of your familial connections in Syria? How does this color your outlook on the situation?
-Does your family in Syria land on the “beneficiary” side of Syrian society? Are they Allawite?
-It seems that you had/have family members in the Army. How has this colored your outlook?
-Have you ever been threatened by the Syrian Government, or received communications which have influenced your ability to report on the situation?

Thank you.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:12 pm

 

41. Sheila said:

#32 to my dear Syrialover who should actually be called Partial Syrialover since his heart seems to break only when watching the army getting killed. This breaks my heart too. These are our people and we do not want to see them die, but I would like you also to Think about Hamza Alkatib. ” who he is, where he comes from, his family, his home town friends,his neighbours. How little say he had in his own destiny. Those who tortured and shot this healthy, strong young boy are killing Syria itself, the heart of Syria. They have no sound rationale, they are just adding and adding to the suffering and damage.

Those murderers have no moral high ground over the vile Asads. In a sense, they are even worse for killing people who just have the bad luck of being born Syrian.

After the fall of Asad, may the day also come when every Syrian who has a child can see justice against those killers.”

I have used your words Syrialover. I hope you have children and I pray they will stay safe.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:14 pm

 

42. Tara said:

Whether armed gangs are present or not, it is not very relevant at this time.  Let’s not deny the obvious.  The vast majority of the opposition was peaceful and the vast majority of the killings occurred by the regime against peaceful demonstrators.  It is natural consequence for sinister elements to infiltrate the peaceful revolution and it is also expected that at some point people may take up arm to defend themselves but that does not change the reality.  This is oppressed people revolution against a brutal dictatorship.  This revolution has absolutely taken moral high ground by remaining peaceful in it’s most part for five month and Bashar can claim no morality whatsoever because there is no lower than killing one’ own people.     

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:20 pm

 

43. Ali said:

38. Aboud

the first link showed me absolutely nothing but a few light blubs and a couple of heads… so gruesome!
the second on the other hand was a lot more helpful. it showed absolutely no army officers, no victims, a bunch of chairs piled up in one very neat stack and a very unsteady camera. yeah yeah, i heard gun shots that could have been fired by anyone or just thrown in for more blockbuster entertainment.

“I will personally piss on the next shabiha that gets caught, and jam a picture of junior down his throat and up his ass.”

by posting these wicked comments you are waking up sleeping elephants… so prepare to be trampled

Allah y2owe aljaysh

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:22 pm

 

44. beaware said:

Syrian Uprising Expands Despite Absence Of Leaders
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 NPR By Deborah Amos
http://www.wnyc.org/npr_articles/2011/aug/03/syrian-uprising-expands-despite-absence-of-leaders/

Syria’s uprising has been called the YouTube Revolution. The protest videos from cities across the country are a guide to how the movement works.

The banners and the slogans are remarkably similar, from the city of Dera’a in the south, to Hama on the central plain, to the eastern desert town of Deir Ezzor. Even in the capital of Damascus, the chants are the same: “It’s time for President Bashar al-Assad to go.”

Yet there are no leaders directing the chants at these rallies. There is no national leadership, even behind the scenes, says Rami Nakhle, a spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees, the LCC, the most well known of the groups opposing the regime.

“Actually, we are doing our best not really to have leaders, because the classic leadership concept is really not working with this uprising,” said Nakhle, who is operating from Beirut in neighboring Lebanon.

The reasons are practical. The Syrian regime has targeted anyone who is seen as an organizer of the protests.

“If we name them, we are really putting them in grave danger,” said Nakhle.

But there is something even stronger at work, said Nakhle. This Syrian generation has grown up under an authoritarian system and distrusts any kind of leadership.

“If some leader or some person starts to behave as a leader, the crowd will knock him down,” he said. “Everybody really feels anger towards leadership and authority on them.”

The result is an uprising that appears improvised, locally based, and driven by young activists who are backed by large numbers of angry citizens.

“We don’t need anyone. It’s our freedom and we have to fight for it. We are not afraid,” said Mohammed Ali, an activist in Damascus who connects with other activists through Facebook.

Another Damascus-based activist, Amer Sadeq, uses an assumed name, and communicates in code on Internet sites. “You cannot trust anybody,” he said. “If you trust anybody and he makes a mistake, then you are detained, that means almost certain possibility that you will be tortured.”

While the groups in different cities are in touch through Internet chat sites, they can take a week to decide on the Friday slogan and tend to coordinate little else. They agree on ousting the Assad regime, but so far, there is no grand structure or strategy beyond keeping up the pressure on the street.

“It is a strategy,” says Rami Nakhle, “making it look to (President) Bashar al Assad that every day is worse than that day before and to keep pushing until something cracks.”

But as the international community distances itself from the Assad regime, one question has become more urgent: Who is the opposition and can get their act together?

“I think the international community wants a list, a list of 20 people whom they can check their background, and then they can talk with,” said Wissam Tarif, head of a Syrian human rights monitoring group. “Well, there is no list and there will not be a list.”

Political organizing is new for Syria, especially under an autocratic system that prohibits any meetings not sanctioned by regime.

“There is an internal process, a process that is taking place in the street, which we will have to wait to see what happens there,” he said. “No one can control that. The real show is taking place on the ground with the protesters. And they will decide. No one else.”

Still, some activists feel they need a transition plan that answers the crucial question: What next?

At a meeting in Beirut, Nakhle, one of the founders of the LCC, opens his laptop and explains a complex chart that he’s been working on for weeks. Every city has what he calls a central committee. There is an LCC parliament, and a list of “advisers.” For the first time, the grassroots movement is reaching out to Syria’s older generation of dissidents for help to map out a transition plan should the Assad regime fall.

It may look great on the screen, but Nakhle admits that less than half of it is actually in place.

“Today we are … playing with politics, we need to be more mature,” he said.

But the Syrian government is not playing at repression. And the protest movement may need to mature quickly in a country where the violence is growing greater by the day.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:23 pm

 

45. aboali said:

I can not for the life of me understand how you can equate the systematic, methodical, regimented violence of the military, para-military and Security forces of the this regime, with the tribal justice vengeance of the rural clans in Syria.

Even in times of peace, tribal justice was rife in many parts of Syria. If you killed someone’s cousin, you can expect one of your relatives to be killed in return. There was even the infamous feud between Bari and Hamideh in Aleppo, in which dozens from both families were killed, including innocent bystanders at Alarabi Hospital, all over a feud over a dancer at a night club. Get real people, there’s a huge difference between an armed insurrection and revenge attacks.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:25 pm

 

46. Abughassan said:

The regime for obvious reasons is exaggerating the number of security officers killed or the number of armed thugs firing on them,but it is too late to deny the obvious: this uprising is not as pure as we want it to be,just move on,admit the facts and focus on a way out.
The peaceful opposition is those who did not carry arms but protested for freedom and dignity and were arrested or fired on by the regime thugs,these are my heroes.
One poster here is firing verbal bombs and using improper language which reflects his or her background and lack of class. The editor must delete that post and warn or ban the blogger for violating basic rules. We have enough bullies in Syria,we do not need more here.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:26 pm

 

47. True said:

The first video depicts some mentally disordered people chanting while enjoying the scenery of torturing a dead body!!! It shows bunch of people dragging a semi-naked body covered with blood till one of the crowds comes out with a machete and chops the hand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjco7zCV-AM

The second one depicts the harvest of Besho’s thugs & gangs in Hama, very horrific and heartbreaking for normal people (not “Menhebk” group) watching these minutes will just increase the rage in your heart http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYdMwJMQzkc

Those criminal minds (shabiha & Jihadists) have been incubated and fed for long by Besho and his chief security officer “Ali Mamolouk” to be used against neighbour countries and now guess what? “Surprise”

That’s when an opportunist like “ Besho” puts himself and his ancestors first, he does not give a damn about the country!! his attitude like “me to rule or leave nothing to be ruled”

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:40 pm

 

48. PeacefulReforms_J said:

On the first day of Holy Ramadan, the peaceful demonstrators of Dair Alzour mutilating a dead body while praising God “God is Great” right in the middle of a square, so holy and so peacefully

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=239817906048566

Keep on denying the obvious

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:41 pm

 

49. Abughassan said:

Most of the bloodshed is caused by the regime thugs,but armed thugs on the opposition side are more than just tribal justice. There are no tribes in Banyas and there was not any major offensive that took place before killers fired on soldiers who were going back home at the end of a regular day and murdered nine. A similar story took place in aljisr with many more killed. In many instances,the killing was not a simple act of revenge but those people want to make a statement,terrorize,steal weapons and control,they even videotaped their victims and cheered. The number of army and security officers killed is more than 25% of total victims with names, place of birth ,place of death and even pics from their funerals available to those who are not scared of the truth . Syria is a third world country with a brutal government,and the evidence is all over.
The lesson is,violence brings more violence and there is no military solution to this conflict,and the regime can not be toppled by force as much as it can not subdue Syrians by force. We are all Syrians and we need to talk and live together or call our country syriaghistan..

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:41 pm

 

50. Ss said:

The security and army officers deserve some respect as well. They lost their lives for our safety, stability, and for better Syria. The armed gangs must be chased, brojght to justice, or killed. We have no tolerance for thugs and radicals, and we welcome any peaceful measure to bring us out of this mess. I believe the army should continue doing their job but I do not believe that war will solve any problem. At the end it has to be political solution for this mess. Unfortunately the opposition is disorganized, and the available figures are asking encouraging the gangs to escalate their attacks instead of sitting on the table and trying to solve issue

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:43 pm

 

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