Posted by Joshua on Monday, April 11th, 2011
The Syrian revolution struck home yesterday. My wife, Manar Qash`ur [Kachour], burst into tears last night as she read the Facebook page that has kept her updated on events in her hometown, Latakia. Lt. Colonel Yasir Qash`ur, who was Manar’s cousin and 40 years old, was shot in Banyas on Sunday. He was one of two Lt. Colonels and 10 military personnel killed – more were wounded. Yasir’s funeral was held in the village this morning – Monday. My brother-in-law, Firas, and father-in-law, Shaaban, both attended.
Addendum: Tuesday morning. [I am adding Youtube video of the funeral held Monday in Beit al-Murj, our village, a day after writing this post.]
Yasir’s parents have a house in Manar”s village, Beit al-Murj, where we spend summers. Yasir’s father, Ahmad Qash`ur is married to Yamna Qash`ur; they are first cousins; Yumna is the sister of my father-in-law. They live two doors down from our house in the village and are a leading family in the community. Yasir’s father, Ahmad, worked as a lawyer with the oil refinery in Banyas. Both Yasir’s brother and sister are dentists in Banyas. Their family house in the village, where they spend summers, always had the door open and tea boiling in the courtyard. Every time we drove into the village, we would stop to say hello and share a tea or would yell greetings out the window of the car as we drove by. Yasir had a great sense of humor and was easy going. He was handsome and known for his striking blue eyes and fair complexion. He married a girl from Banyas, Rudaynah, who is a teacher.
Rudayna, Yasir’s wife
Manar remembers that when they were about 13 years old, Yasir was trying to learn to whistle. He was unable to make a sound despite hard work and constant effort. One night after coming home late and washing up in the bathroom, he managed to whistle. proudly, he whistled as loudly as he could. He woke every one in the house. His father came into the bathroom and slapped him for arousing the family from its happy sleep. Yasir’s whistling triumph was unappreciated except as village lore. The retelling always roused a hearty laugh from everyone at his expense.
Yasir has two children, Ahmad and Nur, 10 and 12 years of age. He just finished building his first apartment in Banyas after 20 years of serving in the military. He built it on top of his parents’ house. The shutters had yet to be hung; it was not painted and much of the internal trim had yet to be added. But it was enough to move in. Last summer, when Manar and the kids were in the village, Yasir’s father told Manar, “Finally Yasir has his own house. I don’t want anything else. Now I am very satisfied.”
My sons, Kendall Shaaban and Jonah (Yunis) Firas, played with his children in the village the last several summers.
My father-in-law said on the phone this morning that it seemed that supporters of ex-Vice President Khaddam, who was from Banyas, were behind the attack. It is said that they had set a trap for the military unit. All this is speculation, however. We know precious little about who is killing whom in Syria. Allegations are numerous. Real knowledge is scarce.
More of Shabulla and Jonah’s cousins in the village
The news report by al-Watan about Banyas
تسعة قضوا بينهم ضابطان.. وترفعوا إلى منزلة شهيد، و46 جريحاً من الجيش والشرطة والمدنيين جروح بعضهم خطرة.
هذه حصيلة المعركة الحقيقية التي شهدتها مدينة بانياس أمس التي تحصن فيها عدد كبير من المسلحين رافعين شعار «الجهاد»، ومستخدمين المتفجرات والقنابل اليدوية والأسلحة الرشاشة، راغبين في جعل بانياس ساحة للفوضى والقتل تحت غطاء الحرية وتحت تغطية مالية تم القبض على من يديرها ليتضح أنه الذراع المالية لعبد الحليم خدام واسمه محمد علي بياسي ويشاركه المدعو أحمد موسى، أما أبرز أعماله على الأرض فهو توليه مسؤولية تأمين الأسلحة عبر الزوارق البحرية القادمة من لبنان وتوزيعها «للثوار» الذين أكد أغلبية أبناء بانياس أنهم من أرباب السوابق، وهذا ما أكده أهالي بانياس في شهاداتهم واتصالاتهم مع مختلف وسائل الإعلام ومنها «الوطن».
وفاة ضابط برتبة مقدم وارتفاع عدد جرحى إطلاق النار ببانياس إلى 31 شخصا
أفاد مراسلنا في بانياس، نقلا عن مصادر في المشفى الوطني بالمدينة، إلى أن “ضابطا برتبة مقدم توفي في إطلاق نار، فيما ارتفع عدد اصابات رجال الامن الى 31 جريح” .
From the Comment Section:
- Like it or not, when protesters use violence and kill people,including security officers,they will be seen as criminals not freedom fighters,and this may actually strengthen the regime hardliners position. There will be a point,already coming in Banias,where people will choose security over freedom, and that will be a tragedy. Damascus and Aleppo are watching,and the more violent protests become the less likely they will receive support from these two large cities. The official media has performed poorly so far and most people today get their information from other sources especially that we have not seen any of those alleged thugs on tv after, reportedly,they were captured committing violent acts. If I was a civil right advocate calling for a regime change I will be praying every day that the scenario in Banias is never repeated again.
- A story of how the 19 security personnel were killed has started to emerge, and I’m inclined to believe it. The story that has surfaced explains that one of the soldiers did not want to shoot at his people so he shot the 19 other soldiers before he got killed. The story for me is believable because the media government story did not bring how and why those people killed, like there is a cover up or a shy attitude to cover the above story. Still, in general we are seeing not excessive use of force but elements from the Mokhabarat, security personnel and Shabeeha, which people have known about them for long time, those element are working in harmony and bring the havoc on the live of the peaceful protesters.
- So an officer who did not want to kill his fellow countrymen, shot and killed 19 of his countrymen to prevent them from shooting at his countrymen. Your story cannot be true, because all security are armed, and even if someone went off shooting his colleagues, he would be whacked very quickly. It takes a long time to shoot down 19 people (and injure 75). Story does not stand, sorry. You’re going for this long shot story just to avoid accepting the counter argument that there are outside elements that are armed and operative inside the country.
- Bashar has had 3 weeks, how long we should wait? blood is spilled things are much worse, people are not going out of their homes at dark,instead your thugs are roaming the streets shooting. This will lead to the creation of rough bands.
- Banias is a clear example of why demonstrations need to stay peaceful. Thugs in that city burned many private and public buildings, kept the city markets closed for 10 days, hunted and killed army officers and terrorized civilians.some Mosques in that city are being used to call for violence and sectarian uprising. Those who are unable to see this can only complain after the government does what it needs to do: protect the city and bring armed thugs to justice. Syrians may have to suffer from both a corrupt regime and armed criminals who use religion as a weapon.
- I agree that the Syrian TV videos were not convincing enough, I have a question to the opposition though: Isn’t it strange that there is not a single video showing the security forces or army shooting at protesters? Not a single video! We only see crowds and hear gunfire, so by the same argument you use to denounce the state TV, how can we be sure that it has not been edited? Why nobody seems to be able to take a proper incriminating video on either side?
- Who killed the army officers in Banyas?? Would the regime target expendable units in the army just to scare people off further??? Getting a little bit hard to swallow! An easier story to believe would be violent Khaddam followers. Then we have this: حسب متصل بقناة الحوار أن مقدم بالجيش نزار قطاش قد تم إعدامه مع عشرة من رفاقة لرفضه إطلاق النار في بانياس This is off twitter… this is a new level of serious
- Lebanon went through worse crisis, than Syria is going through,Lebanon did not divide,I do not think that dividing Syria is inevitable. Democracy will bring it together. There is strong desire and will to stick with each other. I don’t believe at all, that there is third party playing sedition, those thugs are the regime thugs,no one should be deceived .
- Allegations about dissent within the army have no truth to them. Such allegations have been propagated by the opposition for two weeks. They are meant to divide the army, but this is a long shot and it is not going to work.
- Do I find the Syrian TV celebratory coverage of events inappropriate? It depends! Inappropriate for the sentiment of people? absoutely! It is indecent, insensitive and inconsiderate. Inappropriate for the “National Sentiment” of the regime: No! It is quite appropriate for them. This is how they operate. Jr said it himself in his last “Temper Tantrum Speach”. To them, Syria is them and them is Syria. Others are either with them or, non-Syrians / traitors, Zionists / etc…. The regime’s media has provided us with many stories about militant groups vandalising here and killing there! At the end of the day, we have: The word of arrsested, badly tortured youngsters on the one hand, and The word of Jr, his serial killer brother, and cousin media moghul Makhloof! Is it difficult to choose whom not to believe? Not to me! Let us not waist time trying to disprove the regime’s fables! Let us invest our precious time and energy in serving a higher purpose: Promoting the cause of freedom and the great Syrian revolution.
- I think the regime needs to go but not Libya-style and not overnight. After 48 years of albaath rule, political life in Syria came to an almost total arrest. I agree with one thing Bashar said when he suggested that the country needs to improve its educational,economic and judicial system before we can expect a western style democracy,assuming that this is acceptable to islamists,the problem is that albaath is responsible for much of Syria’s problems today and can not be trusted to initiate reform. The moment of truth is coming when elections start at the local and then national level.if independents are allowed to run and if the 8th article of the institution is removed,then we can start to believe that Bashar is finally fulfilling his promises. Until things changed on the ground,no Syrian should trust this regime. As for those who claim that nobody is shooting or burning except the government militias,I say this is true in many cases but it is not true in places where the locals witnessed the killing of security officers and the destruction of property done by “freedom seekers”. The opposition has too much to lose if they allow thugs to infiltrate their ranks. Finally, do not underestimate the power of the MB and its sympathizers in Syria, they are everywhere,and they are willing to install a regime similar to Hamas in Gaza if Syrians allow them to,I still think there is a way out of this but the pressure on the regime,through peaceful protest,should not stop.
- Let us get this straight. It takes less than a day to amend the constitution, changing the minimum age of the president to be from 40 to 34 years to perfectly fit for Bashar, but it takes weeks? months? years? to implement a law that would allow opposition parties to exist? It takes studies and god knows how long to remove the state of emergency? You have to be kidding if you still have faith in this regime.
- Anti regime people should isolate those who commit violence and carry arms. It is obvious that some protesters are thugs and criminals who are actually indirectly serving the regime.pretending that all protesters are peaceful is not going to help the cause of freedom. I am afraid that Syrians may eventually rise against chaos instead of rising against the government.give absolute freedom and weapons to uneducated unemployed people who are in their late teens or early twenties and see what happens.
- I guess bisho will no longer be able to drive his car solo through the streets of Damascus like before claiming that the people love him so much that he doesn’t need bodyguards… See mr. president, things have already changed and you don’t even know it!!
- I am very disturbed by the calls for blood i have been reading over the past few days. Where did all this hate come from, and where was it hidden. I am fearful for Syria….
- do you really believe for a second that if things become stable for the president he will, or would be capable of eliminating the loyalty requirement. Far from it, as its value would have been demonstrated, its price will likely become too high and may include more privileges and far more impunities, especially after a period of calm, when people start talking about what really happened and who are those mysterious thugs. On economy, how dreamy are you or anyone else to think for a second that any Syrian government under the same regime will ever have a chance in attracting investment again. To begin with, the facade of stability has been shattered irreparably. The regime had to give up any shred of economic liberalization in order to bribe the people, who seem to have rejected these bribes.
- Those armed gangs have very good organization and communication system equal to that of the security forces, they know where the demonstrations are going to happen and they manage to infiltrate the security cordon and mingle with the crowds before they start shooting at protesters and the poor regular police !!! WHO ARE THEY KIDDING
- this is an answer to asad who gave a free hand to extremist rafidi theocrats to build propaganda centers in Syria in which are insulted Omar,Osman,Abu Bakr ,Aisha ,99 % of the sahaba ,but also Salahadin al Ayyoubi ,Nur Al Din Zangi….the regime has been warned.
Thanks to this awarness ,Syria will never be like Iraq (and Lebanon),a play ground for the iranian theocracy.
It’s now clear that you are not against this kind of marginal extremism but your problem is mainstream Islam in general.
- It seems that the regime now is eradicating Wahhabis from Banias, though I am not sure what is exactly happening there. This war is far from being over. I think it is going to be long and it may last for months, just like the war with the Muslim Brothers.
- Egypt is going to be more and more Islamized, until the point when Sharia will be the law of the land. Look at Iran’s example. Is it an attractive example?…I don’t see a bright future for Egypt. The Islamists will gradually enforce a very repressive culture in Egypt and Egypt will fall into a black hole. … Qaddafi does not seem to be losing in Libya. …Do you know that Libya is a tribal Islamist society? Do you expect “democracy” to work in such a society? These assumptions about automatic democracy in the Arab countries sound too naive to me…. As for the the future of reform in Syria and the economy, I am not optimistic either. The picture is gloomy. I don’t think Bashar will seriously reform anything. Before the uprising there was economic reform and some secularization effort. Now we have lost both of these, so there is nothing left.
- There is no half free, half democracy or half rights. Syrian are asking (or should be asking) for no less than a complete freedom and equality including the freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, equality between men and women, equality regardless of regions, sects, areas or ethnic background. If this is what the Syrian revolution is about, then I am all for it, otherwise it’s another crime against Syria.
- Despite of all what happened, I am optimistic, on the political front, and independent of the outcomes of the current cricis in Syria, I can not imagine the next presidential election in 2014 to be carried out in the same laughable manners we are used to. Taboos have been broken, and there is no turning back. Iran is going through another election around the same time. And things will be really different than before.That off course assuming the Syrian regime manages to enact some of the reforms required for it’s survival, a questionable proposition, so far.
A Joud from the large industrial family in Latakia says that things are pretty bad in Lattakia. Joud Enterprises are pretty much shut down. Workers are not showing up for work and orders for products are declining.
The Syrian government has recently announced an increase in salaries and benefits. On March 24 pay for civil servants and pensioners was raised between 20 and 30 percent and the minimum wage went up by some 50 percent.
The increase has affected all five levels of employment. If you happened to have no formal education, your starting salary will be $259 a month. The highest that a person in this fifth and bottom group will ever hit will be $592 after your many years of service. If you happened to be on the other extreme in education credentials, a person with a PhD will start with $475.69 and will face a cap of $1030.
In other words, the difference in starting salary between a PhD holder and an elementary school dropout is $216 a month. A person earning a PhD will make $7.2 in extra income a day than a person who quits school.
The difference in starting salary between a PhD and high school (Bacc.) holder incidentally is $156 a month ($5.2 a day) http://all4syria.info/web/archives/2974
Continued Protests End Hopes of Economic Recovery [Jihad Yazigi’s Syria Report]
The demonstrations held across Syria last Friday have dashed any hopes of a rapid end to the current wave of protests as well as prospects for a quick economic recovery….
Syrian Authorities Formalise Harder Approach: [Jihad Yazigi’s Syria Report]
The Syrian Government has formalized a harder approach to protests as Said Bkheitan, the deputy head of the Baath Party, said that the situation now requires “deterring and decisive decisions” to restore order…..
قال الدكتور محمد الحسين عضو القيادة القطرية ووزير المالية في حكومة تصريف الأعمال أنه من أنصار تخفيض أسعار المازوت آملاً أن يكون ذلك من أول القرارات التي ستأخذها الحكومة الجديدة
Death toll rises amid fresh Syrian protests
Amnesty International, Monday, 8 April 2011
At least 171 people are believed to have been killed during three weeks of unrest in Syria, Amnesty International said today after at least eight more fatalities during protests. “The alarming reports coming from Syria today show that the authorities have not altered their violent methods for dealing with dissent,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International…..
Stocks: According to Ehsani
The Egyptian stock market fell by 29% from the middle of jan till march 24. It has since rebounded by about 5%. The loss there as of today is -22.8% compared to Syria’s -20%. In Tunisia they also fell by -22% at the beginning and after a brief bounce, the current loss in that market is -17%
Syria Tries to Placate Sunnis and Kurds
By LIAM STACK and KATHERINE ZOEPF
Published: April 6, 2011
CAIRO — The government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria offered several unusual gestures on Wednesday intended to earn it good will among Sunnis and Kurds.
The government announced that Syria’s first and only casino, which had enraged Islamists when it opened on New Year’s Eve, would be closed. It also said that schoolteachers who had been dismissed last year for wearing the niqab, a type of face veil, would be allowed back to work.
These concessions and others were made public as activists were calling for renewed demonstrations to be held on Thursday, which is the 64th anniversary of the formation of the Baath Party, which has been in power since 1963. Protests demanding expanded political rights and a multiparty democracy have spread to cities across Syria over the last three weeks, posing a highly unusual challenge to Mr. Assad.
Ayman Abdel Nour, a Syrian writer and activist who was a childhood friend of Mr. Assad’s, said that about 1,200 women would be affected by the niqab decision, which was the most immediately significant result of a meeting Tuesday between Mr. Assad and a popular Islamist leader, Said Ramadan al-Bouti.
Other concessions offered at the meeting, Mr. Abdel Nour said, included permission to create an Islamist satellite channel and to form an Islamist political party. The party, he said, would be similar to the AKP in Turkey.
“It will be a moderate Islamist party loyal to the regime,” Mr. Abdel Nour said. “This is a very important deal. The regime is trying to weaken the demonstrators.”
Mr. Assad also promised to give citizenship to stateless people within Syria, and to make a national holiday of the Kurdish New Year’s festival Nayrouz, Mr. Abdel Nour said. An estimated 200,000 Kurds living in Syria are stateless, international human rights groups said.
“If the Islamists and the Kurds enter the demonstrations, the regime will lose control,” Mr. Abdel Nour said. “The president is trying to delay the big explosion.”
The unrest began three weeks ago in the southern city of Dara’a after the arrest of a group of teenagers for writing antigovernment graffiti.
The protests have since spread to the coastal city of Latakia, the crowded Damascus suburbs and the remote Kurdish cities of the northeast. The government has responded harshly, pledging political reform but also violently dispersing crowds, arresting scores and accusing protesters of complicity with a foreign conspiracy. The clashes with security forces have killed as many as 173 people, according to figures released by Insan, a Syrian human rights group, on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, security forces maintained a tight grip on Dara’a, where residents are reported to be conducting a general strike. Ahmed Al Sayasna, a local religious leader reached by telephone, said that security forces were stationed outside the town and that shops were shuttered.
The strike began on Monday, the day after Mr. Assad appointed a former lieutenant general, Mohamed Khaled Al Hanous, governor of the restive region. Activists rejected his appointment as too little, too late.
“The issue is not the governor; the issue is the whole system,” said Wassim Tarif, the executive director of Insan. “Who shot at people in Dara’a? It was the security forces backed up by the military. That is the president’s responsibility.”
In another development, Syrian state media reported Tuesday night that two policemen in the Damascus suburb of Kafr Batna had been shot and killed. The report blamed their death on unidentified gunmen but offered few details.
Mr. Tarif said that a peaceful demonstration was held in the suburb on Friday and that it was followed by two days of police raids and arrests.
Liam Stack reported from Cairo, and Katherine Zoepf from New York.
Beware the void under tyranny
By Robert Kaplan, April 06 2011 11:29
Ivory Coast is a showcase of events in the Middle East. The issue is not democracy, but the threat of anarchy, writes Robert Kaplan
Read the full article at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c282d1b4-607e-11e0-9fcb-00144feab49a.html
عاجل: مصدر مطلع يؤكد بأن الحسين والدردري خارج الحكومة المرتقبة
كشف مصدر مطلع للاقتصادي بأن كل من وزير المالية السابق محمد الحسين والنائب الاقتصادي عبد الله الدردي خارج الحكومة.
وخلافاً لما تداولنه مصادر صحفية سابقة بأن الوزراء الباقون في الحكومة المرتقبة هم خمسه، أكد المصدر للاقتصادي أن الوزراء الباقون سبعة وليس خمسة وهم:
وزير الخارجية السابق وليد المعلم
وزير الدفاع السابق: علي حبيب
وزير الإسكان السابق: عمر إبراهيم غلاونجي
وزير الأوقاف السابق: محمد عبد الستار السيد
وزير شؤون رئاسة الجمهورية السابق: منصور عزام
وزير الثقافة السايق: رياض عصمت
وزير الري السابق: جورج صومي