Posted by Joshua on Saturday, May 21st, 2011
Syrian government statements that it had defeated the revolution with its brutal crack down were premature. This Friday, Syrians came out to demonstrate across the country despite the growing danger of violence. The absolute numbers of demonstrators may not have been very great, but the number of demonstrations was. As Phil Sands in Damascus reports: “A ring of suburbs around the capital all staged demonstrations yesterday – the first time they have done so on the same day.”
Obama’s speech, no doubt, gave courage to the demonstrators. But it seems clear that the culture of revolution that has spread among the young generation of Syrians will not be uprooted or destroyed by fear or firepower. As I wrote on May 11:
The Syrian opposition has successfully established a culture of resistance that is widespread in Syria and will not be eliminated. Even if demonstrations can be shut down for the time being, the opposition will not be defeated. Syria’s youth, long apolitical and apathetic, is now politicized, mobilized, and passionate.
The government is not succeeded in suppressing the demonstrations even for one Friday. Greater numbers of middle class Syrians are becoming increasingly horrified by the growing brutality. The “shoot-first, ask-questions-later” policy of the government has engendered deep anger. Instead of stopping the revolution, government force has allowed the opposition to mobilize the Western world to its cause.
The Obama administration seems to have accepted the notion that it must prepare for a post-Assad Syria.
The Syrian opposition has yet to offer up any leadership or unified program for the future. Before Western governments can move more aggressively to support the cause of the opposition, they will have to know who the opposition is. The opposition must develop executive institutions and a program. It is high time that political parties form and set forward their visions of Syria’s future.
Here is what Ammar Abdalhamid is saying. He is absolutely right:
The lack of any obvious opposition alternative to Assad limits what Western governments, including the U.S, can do, says Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent U.S-based Syrian dissident. “We do want [Obama] to call on Assad to step down at one point soon, but that’s not going to happen until Syrian opposition and activists get together and formulate a viable alternative to manage the transitional period. Only then can we expect world leaders to be more forthcoming in their calls on Assad to step down.”
Anthony Shadid in the NYTimes says the same: Promise of Arab Uprisings Is Threatened by Divisions
…But in the past weeks, the specter of divisions — religion in Egypt, fundamentalism in Tunisia, sect in Syria and Bahrain, clan in Libya — has threatened uprisings that once seemed to promise to resolve questions that have vexed the Arab world since the colonialism era. …
NEWS ROUNDUP FOLLOWS
Syria’s suffers ‘another bloody Friday’
Phil Sands, Last Updated: May 21, 2011
DAMASCUS // Anti-government demonstrations turned deadly again yesterday in Syria, with at least 34 people killed by security services, according to human rights activists.
Previous Fridays had seemed to weaken the protest movement, with thousands of dissidents and residents of restive neighbourhoods in detention, a communications blackout and military units deployed in strength to prevent public gatherings.
Yesterday, however, as anti-government demonstrations entered a third month, the number of protesters on the streets grew in strength, activists and analysts said, with rallies also spreading across the country.
A ring of suburbs around the capital all staged demonstrations yesterday – the first time they have done so on the same day,
footage posted online by activists showed. There were also rallies in the central cities of Homs and Hama, while others took place in the north, east, south and west of the country.
Compared to last Friday, when six demonstrators were killed – the lowest number of fatalities in weeks – by early yesterday evening at least 34 demonstrators, including a child, had died in shootings by the security services. The deaths occurred mostly in Homs…..
“The security thought they had many of these places under control but as soon as they leave a neighbourhood, the protesters return, and they seem to be even more active than before,” said Abdul Karim Rehawi, head of the Syrian Human Rights League.State media did, however, acknowledge a dozen rallies yesterday.
“Gatherings of scores and hundreds of citizens took place in a number of provinces after Friday prayers, chanting for freedom, mostly dispersing after a short time,” the official news agency SANA reported.
It also reported that security force personnel and civilians had been shot at by “armed groups’ in Homs and near Idleb. Officials have consistently blamed the killings, including the death of more than 120 security service personnel, on Islamic terrorists with support from foreign countries.
That message is certainly believed by at least some Syrians, who talk of a plot by the country’s enemies to weaken Damascus. There are also significant fears, mainly among minority groups, that a sectarian civil war will break out if the largely secular government loses control. Syria is made of different sectarian and ethnic groups, with a Sunni Muslim majority.
Most Syrians are not taking part in demonstrations, and President Bashar al Assad, 11 years into his rule, still appears to enjoy a wide base of popular support.
That popularity, while real and widespread, is dwindling as the crisis continues, according to one Syrian political analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The silent majority is still quiet which is taken as a sign of support for the president,” he said. “But I see indications that [support] is slowly starting to shift as doubts are settling it.
“It’s still not too late for him to keep that majority on his side but it will take decisive political reforms. Things cannot just be allowed to drift as they are. At the moment, there is no actual policy; it’s just crisis management that is failing to managing the crisis.”
“Couric: In Syria, Secretary Clinton, the government crackdown has killed an estimated 700 people in the last two months. What took so long for the Administration to put these new sanctions into place?
Clinton: Well, Katie, I don’t think it took long at all. I think we wanted to coordinate with our allies in the European Union, to talk to our friends and partners in the region, especially those that border Syria, Israel, Iraq, and others. And we also wanted to make it clear that, as the President just said in his speech, President Asad of Syria can either lead this transition or get out of the way. And unfortunately, the evidence thus far is that he’s not providing the kind of leadership that is needed.
Couric: So are you willing to say he should get out of the way; President Asad must go?
Clinton: Well, I think President Obama was very clear. And what we want is to continue to support the voices of democracy, those who are standing against the brutality. But we’re also well aware every situation is different, and in this one, Asad has said a lot of things that you didn’t hear from other leaders in the region about the kind of changes he would like to see. That may all be out the window, or he may have one last chance.
Couric: At the same time, this Syrian regime is close to Iran. They’re getting support from Iran to – for their tactics of suppression, if you will. They’re – they support terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. So why not just say he needs to be removed?
Clinton: Well, you’re right that Iran is supporting them, and the President mentioned that in his speech today. It hasn’t been publicly talked about as much as the facts warrant, and we’re calling them out on it. But I think we also know that there are many different forces at work in Syria, like in so many of the countries in the region. And we think it would be better if the people of Syria themselves made it clear to Asad that there have to be changes. And part of what the President – our President – Obama was doing today, was to say, “Do you want to end up like Iran, Syria? And President Asad, do you want to end up like a leader of a country that is further and further isolated?” So each of these situations has to be carefully calibrated, and I think the President got it just right.
Couric: So is the U.S. pursuing regime change in Syria?
Clinton: What we are doing is exactly what President Obama said: Either you lead the transition or get out of the way. How that happens is up to the people of that country….
Couric: Why does the killing of civilians in Libya justify U.S. military involvement, but the killing of civilians in Syria does not?
Clinton: Well, part of the reason is look at the difference in the reaction of the world…. we also know that there’s no one size fits all …
Couric: Why not exercise U.S. leadership, though, Secretary Clinton, and galvanize the international community to take more aggressive steps in Syria?
Clinton: There’s no appetite for that, Katie. There’s no willingness…. “
The Syrian authorities must carry out a prompt, impartial investigation into reports that a number of bodies were unearthed near the city of Dera’a and into how those deaths occurred, Amnesty International said today.
Sources have told Amnesty International that local residents on the outskirts of the southern city of Dera’a yesterday found a shallow, unmarked grave containing the bodies of at least five people – said to be ‘Abd al-Razaq Abazaid and his four sons, Samer, Samir, Suliman and Mohamed Abazaid.
France Sees Majority Backing Syria Condemnation at UN, AFP Says
2011-05-17 By Inal Ersan
May 17 (Bloomberg) — France’s foreign minister Alain Juppe said a majority consensus is forming within the United Nation to condemn Syrian government violence against protesters, Agence- France Presse reported.
Another week of protests across Syria has ended with hopes of less violent future demonstrations and promises by the Government that it would launch a national dialogue to help find a solution to the stalemate.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has the “desire to coordinate the opposition” Syria Report
“People on the street are getting tired, they’re running out of resources, and they don’t have that much experience,” said one protest coordinator outside Syria. “They recognize, and we have to recognize, that the Brothers are better organized and better funded.”
“Religion is the most important aspect in my life,” said one conservative, Sunni landowner in Damascus. “But we do not like Salafism—we all want to live in a moderate community in peace,” he said, addressing the government line that the hard-line Islamist movement has stoked the protests.”
Too Big to Fail?
Is Syria’s repressive dictatorship really so crucial to Mideast peace and stability that we can’t let it fail? The Obama administration still seems to think so.
BY AARON DAVID MILLER | MAY 12, 2011, Foreign policy
Bad options, bad outcomes. So, for now, we watch and wait to see where the arc on the Assads is headed — north or south. But if the Assads do survive, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Washington at some point resumes a business-as-usual posture with the only surviving repressive Arab dictator that’s too big to fail.
Syria Isolated in International Community, Egypt Quietly Supporting: The Turtle Bay blog at Foreign Policy obtained confidential documents from U.N. negotiations demonstrating that Egypt has been providing Syria with diplomatic cover. Egypt not only supported efforts to derail a U.N. Security Council vote against Syria, but actively proposed resolutions affirming the “principle of non-interference” in matters of state. Syria has dropped its bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council; Kuwait will replace it as a candidate. Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.N. stated that Syria had not withdrawn its nomination completely, but that the two countries were simply swapping terms.
It seems that Syrian secret police or “Mukhabrat” is behind issuing forged facebook’s security certificate in Syria when accessing via https connection or man in the middle attack, which enables them to get users password and spy on Syrian …