Duma; Turkey Hosts Musl. Brotherhood; Press Services; More

A note from a friend in Duma, where four protesters were killed today.

Hurrah! I made it! Had the full adventure today: was in Duma, the hardest hit. talked with the shebab, experienced tear gas (found that cats are apparently immune, as they went on as nothing was), got out safe and sound though there was shooting, and got stopped at Al Tall by you know who.

Also saw Damascus’ squares empty, the same that I was told were to be a the heart of the protests. no one there expect you know who.

the shebab exaggerate numbers and news. one in Duma told me there were 20 thousand security. and that they, the rebels, were thousands. they were hundreds. they also said 10 victims. Reuters tonight said 4. the gvt accepted 3, if I recall correctly, blaming snipers. One was caught by the shebab, they said he was gvt, asked me to see him, but the guy was up on the last floor of a building, and tear gas like all gasses ascends, so at the third floor it was impossible to breath. never got to see the guy.

interesting day

the most beautiful part is that I AM BACK! safe and sound in my hotel room, Thanks to God.

don’t think I’ll mix with the shebab again. I believe in the sniper story. People I trust said they are in Latakia. in other cities, according to those same accounts, they mingle with the crowd, shoot at the police, which in turn shoots back at the crowd. If that is true, hopefully the police will change tacticts?

anyway, seen up close, it is rather ugly…………………

أكدت مصادر اللجنة الاقتصادية أنه تمت الموافقة على طلبات وزارة الصناعة، أولها تأجيل رفع أسعار الفيول التي كان سيتم العمل بها مع بداية الشهر الرابع إلى 1/8/2011 كما تقررت إعادة دراسة أسعار الفيول من قبل اللجنة الاقتصادية   Syria pushes back cutting government subsidies on fuel oil, scheduled for April 1.

A note from a Syrian Friend (Friday morning):

Both Aljazeera and Erdogan seem to have given up on Bashar after his speech.

Aljazeera is now broadcasting a rerun of a press conference held in Istanbul yesterday for the MB leadership (tayfour, alsheqfeh and others). They are calling for massive demonstrations on Friday and blaming Bashar speech. They are thanking Turkey, AKP and Erdogan for their support. They are praising the Ottoman era and how “we felt as Turks citizens under the amazing Ottoman rule”

This is it. They are now planning to take over the democratic public opinion in Turkey which will be the end. Once the Turkish public opinion goes anti-bashar (soon with his continued stupid PR steps) Erdogan will bow to his people and start publicly supporting the opposition in Syria. Syrian people like Erdogan as much as they like Bashar. They will be split in the middle and it will be sectarian and ugly.


This is amazing. If only he said  “tomorrow we’ll start doing 1,2,3”, the people who made up their minds after the speech that there is no hope and decided to take it to the street after Friday prayers would have been sitting satisfied in their homes today. Simply incomprehensible how ever you look at it!!

I hope nothing will happen today, but the preparations online are scary. We’ll see in an hour or so….

…  I agree with …that among the 65 percent I keep referring to as conditional supporters (other than the 25 harcore supporters and 10 hardcore opposition) they are loosing faith fast due to unbelievable stupidity from the regime. The regime has only to blame itself. People want to believe and want to like Bashar but they are being pushed away.

…  Ironically, Al-arabiya is the most balanced one so far on Syria!!

But the I think the only source of info on demonstrations is twitter and Sham News Network on Facebook (which you need to filter heavily as it is full with propaganda). Also on Lattakia, Lattakia News Network on Facebook is credible.

Reuters, BBC journalists and others are using few tweeters are their only source on the demos. They decided that they are credible. This is what happens usually, those few tweeters tweet about a demonstration in daraa let’s say and in 30 minutes reuters issues an alert with the same content exactly.

A note from a reader in response to the ReelNews video (last post) and controversy:

Josh stated clear facts in his interview with a lot of neutrality. Listen, Bashar’s speech was a major let down, for me more than anyone, but it is a fact that the majority of Syrians are pro-Bashar, its just a fact, unfortunately.

The government has instilled enough fear in everyone about civil wars and chaos. In fact, the “Shabiha” that the government called “outside elements,” are very much from the very inside of the government. Scaring neighborhoods that their next neighbor is getting ready to attack is a smart tactic that was used by them to further instill fear. While Mubarak sent them on horses, they Syrian government sent them with messages. Very smart, and extremely smart in the way the media portrayed it. After all the Assads are famous for the “smart gene.” Remember our former Assad?

Why are you so surprised when he talks about a possible civil war? The main reason this has not taken place yet is because of the governments brutality. It is a a gene that most of us Arabs carry around, its called “My religion is right and yours is wrong.”

I grew up in a Druze family in the southern mountains of Syria. My best friend was a Greek orthodox Christian and the society was a Muslim one. I know how people think there. I was actually there in 1999 when a Druze youth was killed by a Baudouin guy. My entire city went marching to neighboring Baudouin cities burning their homes down and beating/killing anyone in the way that was a little darker skinned. I was there in the Souk when a guy’s head was crushed with a brick because they thought he was a Badawi! It later turned out he was a guy from Daraa. The government sent tanks and military personnel to Sweda, Syria. I remember when I would go downstairs to take tea to the soldiers outside our house every night. They were “protecting” us as my grandmother would put it. We are no exception! Syria is an Arab country with tons of problems just like the rest of the Arab world. Our regime is no exception either. It is a ruthless dictatorship that has robbed our country for the past 40 years. Syria is a complicated story. Bashar has a lot of work to do and I hope he does it quickly. There is not a clear alternative for him for the time being.”

A note from an American academic with long experience in Syria and a wonderful book on the Great Revolt in Syria 1925-1927.

Dear Josh, I am addicted to and grateful for your blog in these times. You are providing a wonderful service.

This morning I had occasion to visit the Syrian Embassy in the European capital where I am living. There was a small anti-demonstration in the process of being taken over by a pro-demonstration. The people chanting praise of the president did not seem to be enjoying themselves much. Most of them seemed to be embassy employees and students. I guess employees of Syrianair and their families were there too. Nobody met my eyes as I stood by waiting for them to pass.

The president has argued that Syria is different from other states in the region because of its resistance and the dignity he delivers and symbolizes for his people. But if people are subjected to the kind of things we have seen over the last weeks, including his speech, and then compelled to act out spectacles of obedience, what kind of dignity has been delivered?

I think we saw evidence yesterday that the state has a depressingly limited repertoire of responses to crisis, and a basic inability to adjust course to insure at least grudging consent of its majority.

I remember in 1999 when Hafiz al-Asad won his final referendum. People went to the polls because not going was not worth the risk. The performative requirements of obedience to the system were not that great, and the potential costs of disobedience were significant. A couple friends scheduled doctor appointments, and one friend went to Lebanon for an “appointment” to avoid going to the polls. Most people just went. Socialism meant that everybody ate, and prospects were marginally acceptable for most people. The government spent money in the countryside and places like Deraa had pretty good schools and hospitals and other services.

A few months later Hafiz al-Asad died, and something changed. Once it was clear things would be smooth, people’s anxiety lifted. There was a referendum for the new president, and unlike a few months before, I didn’t know one person of my own age group (20s-30s), who admitted bothering to vote. A bit later, the president addressed parliament and said something like, (I paraphrase from memory) “all these displays (pictures and regime icons) are against our human dignity. From now on, government offices should have a smallish photo of the late president and one of the current president. We don’t need more.”

It was a very popular expression of collective dignity. And even friends who cared nothing for politics were impressed. The giant five story high banner of Hafiz al-Asad’s face on the bank at SahatYusuf al-‘Azmeh came down. Same with the central bank. Mezzeh prison was closed, and a couple new newspapers started. The streets were cleaner. The Barada was cleaned up a bit.

So eleven years later, it seems the late president has returned from the dead. The cult of personality is back with a vengeance. The difference is that there are 6 million more Syrians, proportionately fewer jobs, and major problems with the economy and conditions in rural areas. Rural migration to Damascus, is skyrocketing and the agricultural land surrounding the capital is being consumed for shanty-type housing and golf courses for the newly rich. It is not clear what average Syrians would get now in return for their grudging consent to a system that seems unable to deliver even dignity.

I looked at the list of the dead from Hauran you posted. I recognized many of those family names. People from outside Hauran assumed these were poor peasant youth, but I don’t think so. They looked to me like the sons of the leading families of their region. In other words, sons of the rural and provincial middle classes. There must be millions like them. They were raised in big families with some local prominence, but their generation has very limited career prospects and a lot of frustration. What does the government have to offer them, and how exactly can more time spent “studying” reform help the situation?

Over the years every retired Syrian politician I ever met and talked to said to me, “In Syria we have time.” America doesn’t have time, Israel doesn’t have time, but we have time.” I am sure you have heard the same from people you have interviewed. It is a smart strategy and it’s true until it’s not.

Syrian politics has been a long game since at least the 1970s. Bashar certainly learned the long approach to politics from his father. If you can hang on, through the crisis, and survive, you have won. But one day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, or maybe in five years’ time the long game won’t work. The crisis (whatever it is) will demand immediate change of course, and from what we saw yesterday in the speech, the president may not have the insight, or possess the latitude within the system he inhabits, to be able to adjust course. Waiting and surviving will not always be enough.

He has said that reform will take time. But what if eleven years is already too long, and everything important he could have learned and done, has already passed?

Thanks again, ya batal al-huriyya al-‘ilm! Count me one of your many admirers-

Michael Provence

WSJ [Reg]: Sen. Kerry Raps Syria’s Assad,  2011-03-31

By Jay Solomon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has a new American critic. On Thursday, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, rapped Mr. Assad for not following through on his recent commitments to initiate political …

Syria Kurds join protests calling for citizenship
(AFP), 1 April 2011

DAMASCUS — Kurds in Syria’s northeast on Friday took to the streets for the first time since pro-reform protests erupted in mid-March, calling for the right to citizenship, an activist said.

“Several hundred people marched peacefully in the streets of Qamishli and Amuda after Friday (Muslim) prayers chanting ‘we don’t only want citizenship but freedom as well,’” Kurdish rights activist Radif Mustafa told AFP.

The protesters also chanted “God, Syria, Freedom.”

There were similar protests in Hassake where up to 200 people emerging before security forces dispersed them, he said.

Qamishli and the adjoining town of Amud are 700 kilometres (435 miles) northeast of Damascus near the border with Turkey, while Hassake is about 600 kilometres from the capital.

“It is the first time since the start of the dissent that protests are being held in this majority Kurdish region,” Mustafa said.

Friday’s rallies come a day after Syrian announced it would look into the plight of some 300,000 Kurds who have been denied Syrian nationality for close to half a century.

“President Bashar al-Assad has ordered the creation of a committee charged with resolving the problem of the 1962 census in the governorate of Hassake,” state-run news agency SANA reported on Thursday.

This committee “must complete its work before April 15 and President Assad will then issue an appropriate decree to resolve this problem,” SANA said.

The decision comes as part of a string of reforms launched by Assad’s government, which is facing a rising wave of dissent demanding major reforms.

In 1962, 20% of Syria’s ethnic Kurdish population were deprived of Syrian citizenship following a controversial census, according to human rights groups.

The government at the time argued its decision was based on a 1945 wave of illegal immigration of Kurds from neighboring countries, including Turkey, to Hassake, where they had “fraudulently” registered as Syrian citizens.

The citizenship problem has long poisoned relations between the government and Syria’s Kurds, who are banned from employment in the public sector as they are not citizens and yet cannot emigrate as they do not have Syrian passports.

There were also protests Friday in the flashpoint southern Syrian town of Daraa, which has emerged as the centre of dissent since demonstrations first broke out on March 15 in Damascus with protesters calling for the release of political prisoners.

The “Friday of Martyrs” protests were expected across Syria after weekly Muslim prayers for a third week in succession, spurred by a the popular yet anonymous Facebook group The Syrian Revolution 2011.

Revolution U

There will be many moments during a dictatorship that galvanize public anger: a hike in the price of oil, the assassination of an opposition leader, corrupt indifference to a natural disaster, or simply the confiscation by the police of a produce cart. In most cases, anger is not enough — it simply flares out. Only a prepared opponent will be able to use such moments to bring down a government.

“Revolutions are often seen as spontaneous,” Ivan Marovic, a former CANVAS trainer, told me in Washington a few years ago. “It looks like people just went into the street. But it’s the result of months or years of preparation. It is very boring until you reach a certain point, where you can organize mass demonstrations or strikes. If it is carefully planned, by the time they start, everything is over in a matter of weeks.”……..

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood ask Assad to quickly fulfill the demands of the Syrian People

رصد | الأردن : الإخوان المسلمون في الأردن يطالبون الأسد بسرعة الإستجابة لمطالب الشعب السوري

Is Assad Capable of Reform?


BERLIN — In a brief address before Syria’s Parliament on Wednesday, President Bashar al-Assad declared that he was still for reform, but insisted that the first priority was to combat a “conspiracy” that was responsible for the bloody protests in his country. The speech came the day after the president dismissed his cabinet.

The speech was bound to disappoint those who had expected Assad to at least lift the emergency status and announce a new law on political parties. Changing the ministers is a meaningless gesture unless it’s followed by real reform. Assad mentioned the emergency law and the party law but insisted that he would not act under pressure — “haste comes at the expense of the quality of reforms.”

It’s a refrain that Syrians have heard too often. The idea of a new party law in particular has come up whenever the regime was under pressure — for example in 2000, after Assad took power, or in 2005, after Syria’s forced withdrawal from Lebanon. But the time has never been right.

I remember a meeting I had five years ago with Faisal Kalthoum, a professor of law and at the time a confidant to Assad, who proudly told me about a draft party law he and other members of a special committee had just finalized. (Kalthoum, who regarded himself as a reformer, later became governor of Dara’a and was in that position until he was fired after the first bloody crackdown.)

The new law, he told me at that time, would allow parties of various tendencies to be established. But there was no intention, he added when I asked, to change the Constitution, particularly Article 8, which states that the Baath Party is the “leading party in the society and the state.” In other words, parties could be freely constituted so long as they did not challenge the Baath’s monopoly on power. It is hardly necessary to add that Assad did not enact the law. The situation, other officials told me in subsequent years, “wasn’t yet considered ripe” for such a reform.

I would be positively astonished if Assad was prepared today not only to enact that law, but also to lift the state of emergency and rescind Article 8. He could make history with such moves, probably setting the stage for a step-by-step political liberalization in Syria — for which, I assume, a small window of time still exists. But I doubt he will do it.

This is mainly because Assad, in contrast to the image of him that some Western leaders have developed, is not a reformer. He can better be described as a modernizer. When he inherited power from his father in 2000 he set out to modernize the system — the economic and technological foundation as well as the political, security and bureaucratic elite on which he bases his power.

He allowed archaic economic and trade regulations to be shelved, private banks to operate, foreign investments to come in, mobile-phone companies to operate. And, starting with regional party leaders and governors, then ministers, and finally the top echelons of the security apparatus, he managed within only a couple of years to remove his father’s old guard and replace it with people loyal to himself.

In doing so, he gave Syria a more modern face and made some things work more efficiently, but he also made sure that the basic system — which relies on the heavy hand of the security services, on personal ties, and on a form of tolerated corruption that allows loyalists to enrich themselves — remained intact.

Initially, after his assumption of power, Assad encouraged a somewhat freer political debate. But in 2001, after a short-lived “Damascus Spring,” the regime cracked down on many of the intellectuals who had thought that it was really the beginning of a political opening. Many have been arrested repeatedly over the past decade.

To be fair, Assad has not relied only on repression and cronies. Unlike Hosni Mubarak or Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the relatively young Syrian leader did gain some real popularity. The regional situation has helped him, as he quite frankly admitted in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. He was extremely critical of the U.S. invasion in Iraq, rightly warned of chaos after an externally enforced regime change there, and gained a reputation for saying no to the United States.

He was compelled to withdraw his forces from Lebanon, but managed to make the best of it by opening up the economy in Syria, thereby reducing the reliance of Syrian businessmen on Lebanon, and gradually rebuilding Syrian political influence in Lebanon.

He denounced American and Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, while making clear that Syria would not block a peace treaty with Israel. All this made him for a time one of the most popular heads of state in the Arab world, and, to the extent that it can be judged, at home.

This apparent popularity may have led him and his advisers to ignore the fact that even in Syria, many people were angry with a repressive regime, bad governance and blatant corruption.

In Syria, as in other Arab countries, there is a widely shared feeling, particularly among those between 20 and 30, that the regime denies them dignity and a fair chance to participate in politics and the economy. Offering cosmetic reforms now is likely to be too little too late.

Assad may find that while it was relatively easy to deal with intellectuals and activists, it is far harder to restrain an entire generation.

Volker Perthes is director of SWP, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, and author of several works on Syria and the Arab world.

Comments (86)

SOURI said:

The choice of words by Volker Perhtes shows that he personally hates Assad (and probably Syria). Why would he say that liberalizing the Syrian economy is “modernization” and not reform? Well, Bashar has reformed the economy and has been trying in the recent years to reform administrations, education, and many other sectors of the state. This is reform Volker Perhtes. Try to live with it.

As for political reform, Bashar made it clear that he was not going to do political reform at this stage. So there is nothing new that Volker Perhtes actually discovered. He just rediscovered the wheel.

April 2nd, 2011, 12:15 am


Revlon said:

Jr is delivering on his promise: Wa2dulfitnah

His security forces have killed more peaceful civilians yesterday!

His security thugs are terrorising demonstrators and beating them with batons!

That Jr. commands the approval of the majority of Syrians should be reassuring to him and his supporters!

Why not Prove it to himself, his supporters and the unconvinced, watchful world, that he truly represents the majority!

Why not hold, a neutrally observed, free elections?
Another rhetorical question!

April 2nd, 2011, 12:52 am


NK said:

Dr. Landis

Thank you for this post, I enjoyed reading your friend’s note reporting from the “front lines”, I wish him safety during these rough times. I also enjoyed Michael Provence’s note.

April 2nd, 2011, 1:01 am


Alia said:

Thanks Joshua for the personal testimonials.

This is an excerpt from a blog entry that I found particularly insightful:

[After 11 years as President, Assad is in control. The people in key positions now are his people, not holdovers from his father’s era. He shuffles and reshuffles the deck. The networks of power and patronage center on him and his close relatives. As Raymond Hinnebusch writes, “Patrimonial politics is run from close to the apex of the political establishment where elites preside over shillas and clientelist networks which take their cut of public resources and dispense patronage… This process is dominated by senior Ba’th officers, especially Alawis… The tentacles of clientelism reach downward through the structures of the state, incorporating many middle and sub-elites and their clients into the patronage game.”

Such a system allows the leader to sit at the center of the machine and play geopolitics with relative freedom, insulated from domestic pressure. This was Hafez al-Assad’s legacy to Syria: vastly over-developed systems of coercion and co-option that allowed a divided country to thrive in rough-and-tumble regional power plays. But there is also the matter of the ability to force the machine itself to change – to come closer to the impartial, legal-rational bureaucratic administration of the modern state, an indispensable prerequisite to real reform. Here the pyramid of the ‘military-mercantile complex’, patronage networks and security fiefdoms assembled to anchor the minoritarian regime core and to give the leader the maximum possible leeway in matters of foreign policy flips upside down and reveals him a prisoner. The patron controls, but the clients expect. To do any more than selective shuffling of positions and piecemeal reforms might threaten to bring the whole structure of control crashing down.]


April 2nd, 2011, 2:15 am


abbas said:

Bashar is at a crossroad now, he has to decide if he is a president of a whole country or the boss of a family, a lot of people, me included , wish to see him as a president and treat everyone fairly and assert the laws on everyone and stop his relatives from having their private army, it’s obvious that no one can snipe at protesters unless he is connected somehow to the security forces. I ask him to please stand up to your family and be president of whole Syria

April 2nd, 2011, 2:54 am


NK said:

Thanks Alia for the link, the article was worth reading in it’s entirety 🙂

April 2nd, 2011, 3:00 am


why-discuss said:

I disagree with the analysis about the visit of the Brotherhood in Turkey.
I believe that Erdogan is trying to neutralize them or to temper them, not to excite them. Erdogan wants Syria stability, that is clear, he will not go against Bashar for a flimsy opposition and a risk of a chaos in his neighborhood. Bashar has many allies in the region that believe in him and will support him. Too much economical issues are at stake.

Are we in a rerun of the post 2005 anti-syrian media biased coverage?

These mini demonstrations, some legitimate (the kurds ) some reruns of grievances, or ‘martyr’ celebrations are very far from the ‘massive’ demonstrations called by the opposition on the 1 of april, maybe it was a Facebook April fool after all..

Unfortunately, disguises, media hysteria, dead resuscitating, anomynous eyewitness, all seem to have totally polluted the real demands in a confusion that no one can control.
The whole thing reminds me the 2005 and the Hariri case hysteria and exaggerations based on rumors and personal hate that overwhelmed the media where Syria was depicted as a bunch of criminals etc…I guess Bashar is now facing a new assault. This time Lebanon media is not on the opposition side. Yet as it did for the Hariri case, the whole tone may melt down after a few weeks especially if after the 25 April when the report on modification of the Emergency law will be made public and that syrians and others will see that Bashar this time means business..
In the meantime I think we will see these sporadic movements with its horde of rumors, anonymous eyewitnesses and real and fake casualties.
If Bashar comes out of this and stay in power, he will be the only leader that was able to deal with this wave of protests in the arab world, as we see the others falling one after the others.

April 2nd, 2011, 3:33 am



Alia and Josh
Thanks for the qualitative shift of posts.

April 2nd, 2011, 6:09 am


Revlon said:

Barzeh, Damascus Demonstrators chant: “Get out!” and “Traitor is he who kill own people”

Wa2dulfitnah is underway! Sanamein yesterday.
More martyrs fall!

It is day 4 of the Regime’s Operation Wa2dulfitnah!
A very unfortunate title, from he who claims custodianship to secularism and national unity!
The regime have mobilised all of its resources: media, political, financial, and military.
They are working 24/7.
Time is not on their side.

It is Day 18 of the Syrian Peoples Revolution
The resolute demonstrators are gaining more confidence
Bravery is contagious!
The revolutionists are wining the moral high grounds, by maintaining peaceful activism!
Their chant “Syrian people are one! One! One! One!” disproves the regime’s claim, that they are the sole guarantor’s of the nation’s unity!

Alfati7a, upon the souls of all martyrs!

April 2nd, 2011, 6:34 am


why-discuss said:

An eyewitness in Damascus on 2 april… from Aljazeera blog

EdgarGarciaX [Moderator] 4 hours ago
I was surprised by your comments about yesterday’s protest outside the Omayyed mosque. I was also there (along with some other twenty or so Western/foreign journalists) and had no problems taking photographs. I spoke to the security, presented my credentials, and they were perfectly polite and were happy to allow me to take pictures. If you’re honest — if you’re here with the right visas and permissions, and you’re upfront about what you’re doing — the security tends to be much more responsive than if you are sneaking around, in disguise, snapping crafty pictures. There’s no better way to make yourself look guilty, in fact. I used a large format 4 x5 field camera yesterday — which can take twenty minutes for each photograph, and has to sit on a tripod — and I managed to take two photographs with it.

I also remained in the square until long after the protests were over. It all remained quite peaceful, in fact, with plenty of children, families, young couples, tourists, and journalist posed as tourists, milling around. They didn’t seem to find it all particularly dodgy.


These Youtube videos could be anywhere, maybe you should instruct the ‘wanabee reporters’ to show where they are. Barzeh? Douma? Tripoli?

April 2nd, 2011, 6:50 am


trustquest said:

An account of Syrian revolution from Woman writer Mohja Kahf,professor, Arkansas UN.

Syria: Indignities, Women, and the Dignity Revolution
-Dr. Mohja Kahf

Two dozen schoolchildren tagged the walls of Syria’s southern city of Daraa with the phrase “down with the state!” For this, fifteen nine-year-old children of Dara were dragged to prison on March 5. It would emerge at the end of the month that they had been beaten and tortured, the fingernails of some of these fourth-graders pulled out.

No longer was Syria’s youngest prisoner of conscience schoolgirl Tal Mallohi, arrested at age seventeen in 2009 for blogging her empathy with the suffering of Gazans, her admiration for Gandhi, and her sense of her own human equality with the president of her country. But let’s not forget young Tal vs the state as this story unfolds.

The Kurds cried in Qamishli, “honor our fallen!” on March 12, the anniversary of the deaths of Kurdish victims of state violence in 2004 and 2008. Wielding the microphone over the crowd of fifteen hundred to two thousand was a young woman, Harvene Awsi, a representative in one of Syria’s Kurdish parties and a signatory of the 2005 Damascus Declaration on behalf of her party. In ringing tones that Saturday, she called for the repeal of emergency laws, the release of prisoners, and freedom—the same demands of later protesters across Syria. The crowd broke into chants of “down with the state!” presaging the masses who would pick up that song in twenty-nine Syrian cities.

Tuesday, March 15 was supposed to be the big date (the original date February 5th having been a no-starter). Organizers of Facebook’s Syrian Revolution page called on Syrians to demand regime change on that day. Who plans a revolution on a Tuesday? March 15 saw flutters of activity and arrests.

Then, on March 16, a dozen and a half women were arrested for saying, “release our prisoners!” And that is what tipped the bucket.

On March 16, family members of prisoners of conscience gathered in Damascus in front of “Justice Palace” to demand the release of political prisoners. News media reported a crowd of two hundred; eyewitness reports on Facebook put it closer to five hundred.

At least eighteen women were arrested that day, teenagers to grandmothers, according to the Syrian Human Rights Council and the Haitham Maleh Foundation for Prisoners of Conscience in Syria. Many were middle-class, educated, articulate. Some had a record as human rights defenders, such as lawyer Razan Zeituna, activist Suhair Atassi, and the same Harvene Awsi who had lead Qamishly’s day of mourning. All three are Damascus Declaration signatories, incidentally, and Atassi had been organizing civil disobedience actions in Damascus since January 28, which had emboldened increasing numbers of young women and men in nonviolent resistance. A number of those who gathered on March 16 were from Daraa, including Meimuna Alammar and journalist Dana Jawabra. And no wonder; Daraa had fifteen new prisoners as of March 5: the children.

This nonviolent civil disobedience was termed by organizers not a “protest” but “اعتصام الاهآلي” in Arabic, or “Family Vigil,” short for Vigil of the Families of Prisoners. Men, women, and children came, with placards showing their imprisoned family members. They demanded audience with the Interior Minister.

“Wait here,” they were told, and then came security forces, dispersing them with clubs, dragging them into custody. One man was filmed using the classic nonviolence technique of going limp as they arrested him. Another was gashed in the head.

Syria’s security forces conducted themselves with their typical disproportionate violence and crudity. A Vigil participant said that the instant a ten-year-old son of one woman prisoner—jailed for a year—held up a placard displaying a photograph of his mother, a security man struck him with a blow that sent the child reeling into onlookers. Suhair Attasi was pulled by her hair to a van, as were other women. Six-month-pregnant Meimuna Alammar was grabbed and carted off.

Many more were injured and attacked than the eighteen women and fourteen men who were charged the next day. Even though the two most egregious captures that day, those of Alammar and the ten-year-old son of prisoner Raghda Hassan, were followed by their release within hours, by then the vileness—the indignity—of the moment had been broadcast across the world.

Certainly men were assaulted too on March 16, in the clean area of downtown Damascus full of governmental office buildings, a location loaded with symbolism of the state and its image. Indeed, whole families were arrested. But it was the disgustingly-conducted public attacks on some two dozen women—and several children—in that key location, that became the drop that tipped the bucket.

What Syria saw that day was a scene of attractive, loving families, women men and children together, appealing with photographs of loved ones in front of the offices that were supposed to serve the public, getting clubbed by armed men. While many women are already behind bars for crimes of expression and conscience, March 16 saw the public beating and arrest of women who, alongside their array of other roles including savvy human rights activist, were there that day as mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters of political prisoners.

What happened to the Women of March 16, like what happened to the still-imprisoned young Tal Mallohi (sentenced on February 5 to five more years for “espionage”), made a powerful moral statement to Syrians. This, despite the fact that the first thing security did in its assault that day was confiscate cell phones and cameras, so that footage of the indignities suffered that day are still yet available. Word does get around to the Syrian public, despite regime’s stifling of news. The indignities to which women in particular were subjected struck a chord which then reverberated on Dignity Friday.

Daraa felt a double blow: Its children were taken, then women who went to save the children were taken.

After these March 16 assaults, Syrian protest was no longer about some political concept that might be considered abstract by the masses too beaten down by survival to want to take a risk; it was no longer about some plan on Facebook that could be dismissed as led by “conspirators” outside Syria. If the protests planned on Facebook for March 15 had produced tepid results, March 18, dubbed “Dignity Friday,” saw between 300,000 and 400,000 people on the streets across Syria.

In the following days, Daraan men would take bullets in their bodies as the government unleashed horrifying firepower on its unarmed protesters. More protests across the country were then galvanized by outrage at the Daraa massacre.

In those segments of the Syrian revolt, it is mostly men’s faces and bodies that we see, their courage and sacrifice. The courage of most post-March 18 women protesters—and they are certainly there–remains off-camera. Yet the courage of the Women of March 16 is one of the key reasons for that surge on Dignity Friday. The Kurds of the north also played a key role in preparing the masses for peaceful revolt against the regime. And the children led the way. Let us remember, as the story of this revolution begins to be told, that it is not the story of any one person, group—or gender—but of many hands working together. And let us not forget that the dignity of women, equally with that of men, was one of the motivators of the struggle.

April 2nd, 2011, 8:39 am


Alloush said:

This man, bashar el assad, is incredibly stupid. More importantly, he lacks vision and therefore he is incapable of reform. He is losing credibility by the day and his reputation with those who previously liked him is forever compromised.

April 2nd, 2011, 9:06 am


Blonde Arabist said:

@Souri, I agree with you that Perthes is evidently impartial; it is a weakness of his and Hinnebusch’s that unfortunately they never seek to correct. However, if you look at Bashar’s economic liberalisation policies over the past decade, they are very much a modernisation; a dusting off, as such, with a few screws tightened here and there, with a new lick of paint.

But the system – the economic system, that is – is still as broken, if not more so, than it was during the 1990s. For example, the new law allowing foreign banks to operate in Syria has made a significant difference to the local banking industry in Syria, and for trade between Syria and Lebanon and Syria and the Gulf; however, little has actually changed on the ground. The state is still offering government bonds at ridiculous prices, expecting (if not ordering, I imagine) Lebanese and Gulf co-owned banks to buy these bonds, which I’m sure they’d rather not have on their books, looking at the near future of the Syrian economy (not bright). Syrians can still have no more than $100 in cash at any one time: in the 20th century, is that REALLY an acceptable rule? Why does the state still have such a big issue with acquiring foreign exchange? Hmm…I wonder.

Bashar has been “trying” to reform; whether his attempts have been blocked by the upper echelons of the state apparatus, or he has bottled out, realising that things are easier broadly kept as they are, I am not well-enough informed to say. Let me say, that I know many see Bashar as a true reformer; if you compare him to his father, then, absolutely, he is nothing but. But this isn’t reform – it’s a gloss.

Perthes, I think, states his unhappiness with Bashar’s lack of political reform because he recognises, as we all do, what Syrian society could acheive if it was reformed and was allowed to perform at its highest level.

Although Perthes’ language is strong, I’m afraid I think I have to agree with him.

April 2nd, 2011, 11:06 am


Sophia said:

”The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood ask Assad to quickly fulfill the demands of the Syrian People”. DO WE HAVE A LINK TO THIS?

April 2nd, 2011, 11:10 am


SOURI said:


Did you read or hear anywhere that this is the end of economic reform in Syria?

Syria is in a transitional period. Restrictions are being eased continuously. Few months ago, the Syrian government was not even issuing any bonds at all. The fact that bonds are being sold now (regardless of the details) is a step forward.

The Syrian government has recently issued a new law that secures the independence of the central bank. The government has also been considering for a long time (perhaps too long) to reform the state-owned banks and make them work like the modern private banks. I have just read a few days ago that Syrian citizens can now buy up to $10,000 monthly in cash.

Things are improving, slowly perhaps, but they are improving. No one said that this is the end of reform. The current crisis has only made reform slower and more difficult.

Bashar is a reformer, unlike most of those who criticize him. Those are just haters who either hate Syria as a country or hate the fact that Syria is not an Islamist sectarianist country.

April 2nd, 2011, 12:22 pm


Revlon said:

“What is Missing or Exaggerated in News of the Uprising? – Heydemann, Lawson, Lesch, Seale”

Dear esteemed analysts,
I have read your part 1 debate with interest!
Your assessment of the Syrian Revolution / Intifadah dwelled on manifestational details and failed to see the big picture!

Here is my humble perspective, in two parts

Part I
First, you have failed to recognise the unity of the Arab People’s Revolution!
It is one revolution. It’s aim is achieving freedom and toppling decadent dictatorship

The Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, and Yemeni are phases of the same revolution!
The Syrian, is phase 5.
The dramatic success of phase 1 ignited and powered the following ones!
Their different speeds of success and manifestations on the ground have had to do with relevant objective factors!
You have elaborated on many.

THEIR SUCCESS however, has been against all objective calculations and lessons of past history

The Tunisian success in the face of the most brutal security system is on record.
The nearing success of the Yemeni, and Libyan (with the help of the international community) phases is taking place in the face of a vicious crackdown by the security and armed units and militias.

The big picture!
None of the preceding phases of the Arab revolution have failed.

The odds are on the Syrian revolution’s side.

April 2nd, 2011, 12:59 pm


Revlon said:

“What is Missing or Exaggerated in News of the Uprising? – Heydemann, Lawson, Lesch, Seale”

Dear esteemed analysts

Here is Pat II
You have argued that the absence of a leadership for the Revolution on the ground to be a disadvantage

I say:
First, The Arab revolution has a leader
It is the spirit of Bou3azizi
He led the Arab Peoples revolution and was its first martyr!
History will remember him as the leader who paid his life, ahead of his comrades!

Second, You seem to put too much emphasis on the need for leadership on the ground!
Your argument is pertinent in cases of armed movements against dictatorships, and in civil protests in democratic systems!

Failure of the security system and Armies to stem the tide of the Arab revolution was exactly because of a lack of recognisable leadership or organised armed movement!

Security systems failed because they were trained to eliminate specific targets, be it activist individuals or armed groups. They had no training or the logistics to confront masses of unarmed civilians, in the daylight!
They improvised by massing civilian bandits and thugs! Those were also overwhelmed!

Armies know how to engage in battles. They are inefficient in fighting armed resistance groups. They dread and resist firing on civilians!

Republican guards can defend or destroy a neighbourhood. They cannot control a whole country!

The Syrian big picture of the ongoing duel!
The restful against the sleepless
The fearless against the boastful
The hopeful against the hopeless

The odds are on the People’s side!

April 2nd, 2011, 1:05 pm


SOURI said:

Two names are being circled as candidates for heading the new government: Tamer Hajje and Adel Safar. Neither of them sounds like an economic reformer as far as I know. I am just hoping that Abdallah Dardari will remain in his place.

However, I am really wondering how is the government going to keep up its investment plans with all this crazy spending that is taking place now. The government now is offering thousands of new jobs in the public sector. It looks as if we are back to the days of socialism.

If the plan of the next government is just to waste money on subsidies and public-sector salaries, then I think Bashar will not last very long because the state will go bankrupt very soon. Investment in the “public sector” will not create the needed jobs. Depending on the “public sector” to create jobs is a stupid strategy and it is a repetition of the same mistake that led Syria into this hole in the first place.

I think Bashar ans his wife are smarter than that. I am just wondering where from are they going to compensate for all this money that is being wasted now.

April 2nd, 2011, 1:12 pm


SOURI said:

The next government must do a major overhaul of the judicial system. Instead of wasting money on public sector salaries, the government should have significantly raised the salaries of judges. It is unacceptable that we still hear stories about judges taking bribes. The judicial system must become very transparent. The media must investigate any corruption claim in the judicial system seriously and freely. The judicial system must also be separated completely from the government and its control. Bashar must not allow any police or military officer to interfere in the work of the judiciary. He must instruct his own family and his clan to stay away from the legal system. He must instruct the judges to call him personally and inform the media if they face any illegal pressure or interference in their work.

Bashar must set up a new organization to fight corruption. He must reform state administrations so that they become more transparent (he is already doing that anyway). He must also instruct his own family to not use their influence illegally. The media must be able to freely investigate any corruption claim. Journalists must not be threatened by anybody in the regime or secret police when they investigate corruption.

Syrian laws must be changed as fast as possible. They must become clear, simple and modern.

If Bashar does these things, he will be able to create jobs more effectively than by spending on the “public sector.” Bashar has been trying to reform, but the reforms have not been satisfactory to many people.

April 2nd, 2011, 1:36 pm


Riad said:

I have just watched an interview on Syrian TV with injured security/police personnel from the Duma clashes and I have two innocuous questions:

1. Why do they all speak the same dialect?

2. Some have fully grown beards. Are security and police personnel allowed to grow beards or not?

April 2nd, 2011, 1:56 pm


Syria Almighty said:

In the most repressed area in Syria, the Golan Heights, thousands of residents defy the Israeli occupation forces and march in support of their president, Bashar al-Assad:


April 2nd, 2011, 2:21 pm


Syria Almighty said:

More lies and corruption of the ‘Syria Revolution’ exposed. They are being sponsored by politicians in Lebanon, plus more fake videos surface.

April 2nd, 2011, 2:21 pm


Norman said:

Prime mister needs to be a manager the economy can be run by dardary

April 2nd, 2011, 2:25 pm


NK said:


I agree reforming the judiciary system should be a top priority, however the judges should not complain to Bashar, he’s the head of the executive branch only (and the other two branches under emergency law), so to have a truly effective judiciary we need the entire branch to be totally independent, with both the executive branch and the legislative branch being subject to judicial review if need be.

In other words, the prisedent can not be the guarantor of the judicial system, that’s what we have right now!.

April 2nd, 2011, 2:51 pm


why-discuss said:

In view of the scattered demonstrations in response to the ‘massive’ demonstrations called by the opposition for Friday 1 april, can we conclude that Bashar’s speech decried as disappointing has had the effect of calming down the protesters and silencing the western medias? No mention of Syria at the hawkish France 24…

April 2nd, 2011, 3:18 pm


SOURI said:

The more time passes before the new prime minister is appointed, the more optimistic I become.

I wish if president Assad waits for few more days until everything calms down and then he appoints Abdallah Dardari as the new PM. It will be a shock, but it will be too late for things to escalate on the ground.

April 2nd, 2011, 3:44 pm


NAJIB said:

A note from a Syrian Friend (Friday morning):
“They (MB) are praising the Ottoman era and how “we felt as Turks citizens under the amazing Ottoman rule”

those MB people are not very bright, they seem to be helping Assad, or they are just tools in a bigger agenda. do they want to divide Turkey too !?

The last thing Turkey needs is for Syria’s trouble to spill into its own heterogeneous society where you also have Alevis and kurds and grievances.

plus not all Syrians share their feelings or dreams of being Turks citizens.

April 2nd, 2011, 4:24 pm


Equus said:

I just watched footage on TV showing security armed forces in Latakia heavily equipped as if they were going to attack. The American reporter compared the video aired by Al Arabia who is proclaiming it’s Latakia. Then showed us the same video recorded on Lebanese TV, Future I guess in 2008. Did Al Arabia forget that we are in 2011? Is this legal to fabricate news? I have to say it’s irritating to viewers because we don’t know which what anymore…who to believe. TV stations should report both views period and not take videos of You tube making it look like their own.

April 2nd, 2011, 5:48 pm


NK said:


It’s pretty obvious the MBs have been trying to ride this wave on unrest since day one, the thing is they really died as a political power in Syria a long time ago, most Syrians don’t identify with them or their leadership at all.

The statement that Syrians enjoyed the Ottoman era is preposterous, Syrians among others suffered a lot under Ottoman rule, we were at best 2nd class citizens, to say we felt at Turks is crazy.


TV stations would love if they could cover the events themselves and not have to resort to youtube videos at all, the Syrian authorities don’t allow journalists access to these locations, and in some cases they refused to give visas to journalists like CNN’s Hala Gorani or Anderson Cooper. And although the video you’re talking about is taken in Lebanon we do have those thugs in Syria, I personally was having dinner in Latakia 7 years ago when a few 17-18 years old kids pulled out a hand grenade and started tossing it around as a joke … it was not a pleasant feeling.

April 2nd, 2011, 5:51 pm


Karim said:

What a cop-out. An Assad sniper was captured but the guy didnt bother to wait and then take photos of the sniper and his weapon? Are you kidding me Josh? Do you really believe this ninkompoo? It would have been a propaganda coup. Some friends you have. Untrustable.

April 2nd, 2011, 6:06 pm


SOURI said:

Al-Arabiya must be sued for using several fabricated videos and false news to incite violence in Syria.

As for Ottoman rule, most Syrians were loyal to the Ottoman state until the war began in 1914. The opposition to Ottoman rule was limited to the secular elite, that is, a very little segment of society.

Syrians turned against the Ottomans during the war because of the famine and the atrocities by Jamal Pasha in Damascus against the Arab nationalists.

Many Syrians today wouldn’t mind to live in a binational state that includes both the Arabs and the Turks. I am secular and I don’t see a problem with that. There is no hostility to the Turks in Syria. There is only a border dispute and some limited grievances from the past.

Syrian-Turkish relations are not like Greek-Turkish relations. Most Syrians have brotherly feelings towards the Turks, and that was true even during the time when political relations with Turkey were bad.

Syrians and Turks have so much in common. The only real difference is the language.

April 2nd, 2011, 6:19 pm


Equus said:


Anderson Cooper is a CIA guy or was so I may understand why Syria doesn\’t want him to enter the country. He proclaims his show is 360 compass but in fact it\’s only 180°. The women in Ivory Coast have been raped over and over again for many weeks. He did not dedicate on single evening for them. All his attention seems on one raped victim in Libya. God knows I\’m not undermining her pain but women of black race are human too, although they only have the element of chocolate not OIL!! Next thing these rebels become Taliban and Bin Laden copy cut is emerged.

Souri: Binational state is super idea!!!

April 2nd, 2011, 6:24 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

For years, they were telling us a story, in order that we create a narrative, or a perception:

Syria, the true guardian of a real and a pure form of Arabism (in contrast to other Arabs, who betrayed the Arab cause).Syria, the last pedigreed Arab proud horse, the only bastion left to resist Israeli expansionism. Syria, may be poor (unlike the Israeli rich Goliath, that gets billions and billions of $US from Am-rica), may be temporarily weak, but IS united (!!!), and resisting the Zionists.
Syria, untouched and immune to the regional plague of uprisings that is sweeping the region. And the vaccine? resistance to Israel.!

As long as there was no problem, this narrative (although doubtful), could have not been challenged. Now let’s disassemble and examine the components of this narrative.

Syria immune? NO. Syria very sick.
Resistance to Israel? No. Actually, resistance to the people of Dar’a (the so called ‘Wahhabis’).
Syria united? No. Syria much more divided than we expected.
Syria proud? No. Syria in a state of extreme fear. A Syrian fears his fellow Syrian. A Syrian from Dimashk is afraid of a Syrian from Hama. A Syrian from Alepo is afraid of a Syrian from Qamishli. A Syrian from Tartus is afraid of a Syrian from Dimashk, and so it goes.
Syria, the last proud Arab pedigreed horse? Not really.. If I have to turn to the kingdom of animals in order to pick a metaphor, I would say, Syria, the boneless snail, that is desperetly seeking a protection in a form of empty shell of Ba’athism, and a regime of Cleptocracy. The Syrians beg their tyrant to save them from themselves.

I’m not gloating here (at least, try not to..). I just don’t like to be fed with bad-taste Ba’athist propaganda.

April 2nd, 2011, 6:25 pm


Riad said:

One final note: What a cliquish blog this is where newbies get painfully ignored by everyone. I wouldn’t have bothered to post had one of you stood up to some of the propaganda, ranting and nonsense going on here. It’s somehow relieving to know it’s pointless to post here and compromise oneself.

Best regards to Shami, Revlon, NK, Nafdik, Majhool, Ziadsoury and majedkhaldoon. I think they are the only participants who make sense 🙂

April 2nd, 2011, 6:31 pm


nafdik said:

Stephen Harper with Syrian subtitles:

April 2nd, 2011, 6:46 pm


NK said:

Have you guys seen this ?

April 2nd, 2011, 6:50 pm


Jerusalem said:

It’s definitely orchestrated revolution like the one in Egypt. It shows same pattern.
In half of Darraa’s families, if not more, the father is a dictator women cannot move without their father’s blessing or eldest son commands so before asking for freedom practice what you preach give it yourself to your family especially your daughters. We saw last summer Syrian series forgot its name but very famous during Ramadan….(excuse my age) how women are talked to…I have to say very demeaning. So all of a sudden the families in Darra want emergency law removed? Did they know first of all that emergency law was instated? Somebody has been doing the teaching for long time, like Muhamed Adel from Egypt…He started his training since summer 2009. Don’t get me wrong I do believe in change but to Leslie Gelb point democracy doesn’t come from the ground.

You cannot blame women condition on Assad. I saw his wife in an interview very impressive and doesn’t seem submissive at all. So it cannot be his ideas to keep women second citizen if not third or forth.

What I don’t understand why Kurds want papers or citizenship in Syria? Didn’t G. Bush make haven democracy in Iraq? So have them go to Iraq and get the freedom they are seeking. Did Syria stop them from leaving?

April 2nd, 2011, 7:00 pm


nafdik said:

Thank you NK for posting that video.

It is refreshing to see at least one MP who is not a castarti.

April 2nd, 2011, 7:05 pm


NK said:


Frist, Syrian Kurds are Syrians, they have every right to have their citizenship, which they were stripped off, returned to them. And to answer your question, yes the Syrian government did prevent them from leaving the country because they can’t get passports since they’re not Syrians anymore and hence they were stuck living in camps in the worst imaginable conditions as refugees in their own country.

Second, where is your proof that half the families in Daraa abuse their women and what is the extent of this abuse ? and what does that have anything to do with emergency law ?

Anyways since you brought it up, how do you expect oppressed women to get their voices to the public and stand up for their rights ? demonstrations are illegal and there is no press thanks to the lovely state of emergency!!!

Regardless, you can’t promote liberal ideas in a repressive environment, the Syrian system promotes repression.

April 2nd, 2011, 7:33 pm


ziadsoury said:


Thanks for the kind note. I have been a reader for many years and it is hard to get people to respond to you at first.

We all need to contribute. I believe we all love Syria, we all want the best for Syria and we all must be heard. Norman (just an example) doesn’t love Syria any less than I do. We just differ on how to get there. I want to be free and my kids and grandkids to be free. It bothers me that my kid can dream and become the president of the US while he is not allowed to even dream about speaking his mind in Syria. What is right with this picture?

I strongly believe that the monopoly on power in the Middle East is over. Why anyone needs to be president for life?

I want to know what do the Asads and their cronies think the end game will be if they do not transfer the power to the people? How long will the people wait? Another 40 years? Another 100 years? Nothing lasts forever and the longer they hold onto power the worse the end will be to the Asads.

SO please keep writing and hopefully we have more and more people contributes. Because if we don’t we are helping the regime. They just want us to be quit and thank them for the leftovers they throw our way.

April 2nd, 2011, 8:06 pm


ziadsoury said:


I told AIG a couple of days ago that we have problems and our people are doing something about. Then I asked him what you are doing about yours. Do you guys think that this Tsunami is going to skip you? You must be dreaming!

Here is an article in The NYT of all places predicting the problems coming your way. Add to that, Israel is the only Apartheid state in the world. You must be proud of that.


Again, you need to look inward and make changes before you point your fingers at others.

April 2nd, 2011, 8:42 pm


trustquest said:

AMIR IN TEL AVIV, can you please verify #20 post please.

The reason I’m asking because we did not see before any such thing in any previous events. Why now? and what is the things which makes them take side against the people killed in Daraa and other cities on the hand of Bashar? The people of Sweeda, already sided with Daraa protest why the Druze in Golan would not?

April 2nd, 2011, 9:14 pm


Revlon said:

#34, Dear Nafdik, Thank you for posting the link to a civilised debate in the Canadian house of parliament! It is inspirational!

#34 Dear Nk, thank you for the link to Sheikh Abu Rumiyeh’s account on what happened in Dar3aa, in the early days of the revolution.

He clearly lay the blame of firing on, and killing of civilians on 3aseff Najeeb, the political security chief of Dar3a.
The latter would not have taken responsibility for such a massive move, without a clear directive from M Asad, and by necessity the approval of Jr. himself!

This is a very credible and damning story! It was told by
A sheikh,
A pro-regime official
An eyewitness!

It amounts to a credible account that disputes the persistent, Governments ‘propaganda attempts, to lay the blame on “Militant infiltrators”!’

The revolution, stand tall on high moral grounds,
The others, hide themselves,
Low, in the pits of deception!

God Syria freedom!

April 2nd, 2011, 9:59 pm


Mohammed said:

Two nights ago, when I heard that the U.S. government cautioned its citizens against traveling to Syria and urged Americans in Syria to consider departing, I knew that the Syrian government was up to something sinister not least because hug…e demonstrations had been expected on Friday. The level of coordination between the U.S. gov. and the Syrian gov. has been higher recently following the appointment of Arabist Robert Ford as ambassador. Senator Kerry thinks that President Assad is a ‘reformer’. Out of 23 million people, 97 % of people in Syria have a diametrically different view but does it really matter?
Anyway, I did not have to wait too long to find out. Peaceful demonstrators
took to the streets on Friday. My brother-in-law was arrested along with scores of other young protesters in Damascus Friday afternoon. After chanting slogans calling for freedom inside al-Rifaii Mosque, the security forces formed a tight security cordon around the mosque in Kafersouseh, Damascus. About 2000 heavily armed security personnel rushed to the scene to lay siege to the mosque. They gave the worshipers and the Imam assurances that no harm would be done to them and that they could leave the mosque peacefully. The moment the worshipers started coming out, the security forces charged at them with batons, stun batons, and cables beating them up and making indiscriminate arrests. We know people in high places so we have been able to get him out. Over 41 years, the Assad dynasty has created a culture of corruption where backhanders work like magic. He got a special treatment because he is ‘privileged’, i.e. he was not beaten as hard as others. Nevertheless, they kept beating him from the moment he was arrested until he was released. He was beaten black and blue but others were beaten like crazy. He spoke of being among forty people squashed into a tiny cell. They were stripped naked and experienced hell on earth that they had to cry out in pain swearing that they loved and supported President Bashar al-Assad. One old man begged that he complained from massive joint pain “Joint pain? Aha?” Since Rumi once said that “the cure for pain is in the pain.”, they started administering him more pain. Another old fellow would doze off out of exhaustion only to be awakened by the shocks of stun batons. He was on the verge of passing out but they confused that for peaceful sleep. My brother-in-law was told on his way out that “You ain’t see nothing yet, this was just flirting. If we ever see you again, we will annihilate you and no one can hold us accountable.”

Scores were killed on Friday. In Daraa, the city that has witnessed most of
the protests, a child was killed and a five-year old girl was rushed to the hospital after receiving shots in her chest. Sharpshooters, whom our government calls ‘unknown gunmen shooting at protesters’, have been stationed on rooftops to gun people down.

The intelligence and security forces especially targeted people with cellphone cameras. They even stormed into some of the apartments overlooking the mosque in Damascus to confiscate equipment (cell phones, cameras, etc.) and arrest those who sent footage of what happened to the Facebook pages calling for the protests. My brother-in-law had to smash his cell phone before leaving the mosque. Everyone was asked for their ‘farsbooks’ (Facebook) usernames and passwords. They also got everyone’s email addresses and passwords. The reports that get published are just a tiny fraction of what is happening here. No journalists are allowed into the country.

The Syrian government wants to put an end to this ‘aberration’ using the most violent of methods ever. In a televised address, our president called what’s happening in the Middle East a ‘fad’. He is keen not to let Syrians be too much into fashion and consumerism. The army, intelligence service, and security forces are
systematically spreading terror in the country. Their philosophy is basic ‘to restore (negative) stability, instill too much fear into everybody’s heart and make it too expensive for them to engage in any anti-fait accompli activities.’
In the eyes of the regime, the fear barrier that they had worked so hard to build up and fortify over forty one years has been considerably damaged lately due to a new ‘fad’ in the Middle East. During the first week or so of protests, the regime used a two-pronged policy of violence and promised reforms. Chastened by what happened in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, they were dipping their toes in the water to see how the international community would react. Syria was assured through the remarks of western officials, including Secretary Clinton, that Assad is not Gaddafi. To the same effect, the remaining long serving rulers in the Arab world expressed their support to Assad because every one of them would like to see an end to the tsunami of revolts against dictators in the ME. Assured, the regime changed its tactics to ones of reinforcing the barrier of fear once again and a bloody crackdown has been mounted.
Sending indirect signals to Syria that it is not Libya and that Assad is not Gaddafi has given the Syrian regime the green light to brutally clamp down on peaceful pro-democracy protesters with bullets, stun baton, imprisonment and indescribable torture.
Sleepless Syrian

April 2nd, 2011, 10:11 pm


Leo said:

This is a blog that every Syrian or person interested in Syria should read.



April 2nd, 2011, 10:27 pm


Revlon said:

#43, DEear Leo, thank you very much for posting the link to this great blog; Ta7shisheh!

April 2nd, 2011, 10:53 pm


Nour said:

اعتصامات وتجمعات تنحصر مطالبها في الخدمات ومعاقبة مسؤولين محليين!!…اللجان المشكلة بتوجيه من الرئيس الأسد بدأت أعمالها وقد تنتهي قبل المهل المحددة

ما إن أعلن ظهر الخميس خبر تشكيل اللجان المحددة زمنياً لرفع قانون الطوارئ وإجراء تحقيقات فورية في جميع القضايا التي أودت بحياة عدد من المواطنين المدنيين والعسكريين في محافظتي درعا واللاذقية، ولجنتين لدراسة وتنفيذ توصية المؤتمر القطري العاشر المتعلقة بحل مشكلة إحصاء عام 1962 في محافظة الحسكة حتى بدأ العمل وتشكلت اللجان بسرعة قياسية، وعلمت «الوطن» أن لجنة رفع قانون الطوارئ تتضمن المحاميين الأستاذين المستقلين والمعروفين بخبراتهما عبود السراج وإبراهيم دراجي وآخرين، أما لجنة التحقيق في أحداث درعا واللاذقية فتتألف من قضاة من المحافظتين بدؤوا بالتحضيرات اللازمة للاستماع إلى الأهالي والشهود تمهيداً لرفع تقريرهما.
وقالت مصادر لـ«الوطن» إن لجنة رفع قانون الطوارئ قد تنهي عملها قبل المدة الزمنية المحددة وإنها تعمل على إصدار تشريعات تضمن الأمن القومي السوري وأمن المواطنين. وأضافت المصادر: إن اللجنة تعتمد فيما تدرسه من قوانين جديدة على المعايير الدولية والقوانين المعمول بها في أوروبا وأميركا وتجاربها، وختمت: إن القوانين الجديدة سترتكز على معادلة بسيطة تحفظ أمن الوطن والمواطن وكرامته في آن واحد.
وفي درعا علمت «الوطن» أن العديد من الأهالي بدؤوا تحضير ما يملكونه من وثائق وأوراق وأفلام فيديو تمهيداً لتسليمها لقاضيين كلفا التحقيق فيما حصل من أحداث في المحافظة، وأكدت مصادر حقوقية أن لجنة التحقيق لن تتأخر أيضاً في رفع تقريرها للجهات الوصائية تمهيداً للمحاسبة وأنها بدورها قد تنهي عملها خلال فترة قصيرة.
وفيما يتعلق باللجنة الثالثة الخاصة بدراسة حل مشكلة إحصاء عام 1962 في الحسكة، كشفت مصادر كردية لـ«الوطن» أن المعلومات المتوفرة لديها تشير إلى أن الأمور تسير باتجاه إغلاق هذا الملف بشكل نهائي، بحيث سيشمل قرار منح الجنسية نحو 250 ألفا من المصنفين في خانة الأجانب وما بين 10 إلى 15 ألفاً من المصنفين تحت خانة المكتومين.
وفي سياق مختلف أكد مراسلو «الوطن» في عدد من المحافظات أن التجمعات الصغيرة التي تنزل إلى الشوارع وتثير قلق المواطنين ويحاول البعض استغلالها، ترفع مطالب ليست إصلاحية وفي أغلبيتها تطالب تارة بتغيير مدير محلي وتارة محافظ.
وأكد المراسلون أن هذه التجمعات سرعان ما تنتهي بعد وصول اللجان الشعبية وبدء الحوار مع المجتمعين وإقناعهم بأن تحركهم هذا لن يغير مديراً أو محافظاً وأن ما يطالبون به يمكن تحقيقه من خلال الشكوى المباشرة إلى المؤسسات المختصة أو رئاسة مجلس الوزراء ويطالبون المجتمعين بتوثيق مطالبهم وتوثيق الإثباتات والإدانات، مع تقديم اللجان الشعبية تعهدات بإيصالها إلى الجهات المختصة مع وعود بأن هذه الجهات لن تتردد في اتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة وإنزال أقصى العقوبات بكل مقصر أو فاسد، داعين المجتمعين إلى العودة إلى منازلهم وضرورة وعي أن هناك من يصطاد تحركاتهم ويستثمرها لتوجيه سهامه نحو سورية شعباً.
وفي حمص التي شهدت تجمعات احتجاجية يوم الجمعة كان المطلب الوحيد «تغيير» المحافظ، وقال عدد من الذين اتصلوا بـ«الوطن» إن محافظ حمص يستفز أهالي المحافظة ويفرض لوائح سوداء وأخرى بيضاء ورسوماً كبيرة خلافاً لباقي محافظات سورية مستنداً إلى قانون الإدارة المحلية الذي يتيح للمحافظين تحديد الرسوم الواجب تسديدها مقابل الخدمات التي تقدمها البلديات والمحافظة والإدارات، ونتج عن ذلك تهرب من هذه الرسوم ولاسيما رسم تسجيل المركبات، كما تحدث كل من اتصل عن التعامل السيئ للمحافظ حتى مع الفعاليات الاقتصادية في المحافظة.
وبينت «الوطن» للمتصلين بها أنها وكل وسائل الإعلام السورية، مستعدة لكشف كل الحقيقة عما يجري في حمص من ممارسات خاطئة إن صحت، وهي لذلك تحتاج إلى وثائق مثبتة ومنظمة، على اعتبار أن الجهات المختصة في سورية لا يمكن أن تقف متفرجة على ما يحصل في حمص في حال تأكدت المعلومات، وهي بالتأكيد ستتخذ كل ما يلزم من إجراءات لمعاقبة المتسببين مهما علا شأنهم.
وفي بعض المحافظات حصلت تجمعات سلمية حضارية للغاية إذ قام منظموها بإعلام البلدية والمحافظة بأنهم سيجتمعون في اليوم التالي وفي ساعة محددة ولوقت محدد ولديهم مطالب محددة، وفعلاً اجتمعوا وغادروا دون أن يحصل أي إشكال.
وفي أكثر من محافظة بدأت اللجان حواراً مع السكان والأهالي عن مفهوم «الحرية» المبهم عند الكثير وتؤكد هذه اللجان أن حرية أي فرد تتوقف حين تلامس حرية الآخرين، ومثال على مفهوم «الحرية» المبهم ما حصل مساء الجمعة في أحد المتاجر في إحدى المحافظات الشمالية حين حاول عدد من الشبان دخول المتجر علماً أنهم ممنوعون من دخوله منذ أسابيع نتيجة قيامهم بأعمال منافية للأخلاق العامة، لكنهم مساء الجمعة أتوا وقالوا لحراس المتجر إنهم «أحرار» ورددوا شعار «اللـه سورية حرية وبس» وحين أكد لهم الحراس أنهم ممنوعون من الدخول عادوا إلى قريتهم وأتوا بنحو 30 شاباً يحملون بنادق صيد وأطلقوا النار على حراس المتجر وحطموا بعض الواجهات انتقاماً!! وتم إلقاء القبض على أغلبيتهم من قبل شرطة المحافظة.. فهل هذه حرية؟ بالتأكيد لا..
ونحن نشكر كل من يساهم إعلامياً وفي الشارع والمدن والقرى في توعية الناس على معنى «الحرية» الحقيقي كي لا ينجروا خلف شعارات هم لا يعرفون معناها.

April 2nd, 2011, 11:13 pm


Nour said:

وبحسب التقارير الإعلامية فإن مشعل قال لزواره: «إنني أدعو الشيخ القرضاوي أن يحكم ضميره ويتحرر من الضغوط التي تمارس عليه من قبل جهات يعتبرها هو موثوقة، وأضاف: «إن حكام السنة في العالم العربي باعوا قضيتنا، وأبرز شيوخ السنة تخلوا عن أهلنا، ولم تجد حركة حماس (التي توصف بأنها حركة الإخوان المسلمين في فلسطين) سوى الرئيس بشار الأسد ليحميها ويدعمها ويقف إلى جانبها، وحين طردنا الحكام العرب السنة آوتنا سورية وبشارها، وحين أقفلت أبواب المدن في وجهنا فتحت لنا سورية قلبها وحضنت جراحنا، لذا أقول للشيخ القرضاوي من منطلق المحب العاتب، اتق اللـه يا شيخ بفلسطين فسورية هي البلد الوحيد الذي لم يتآمر علينا ويدعمنا وما تقوله عن وحدتها الدينية يصيب قلب كل فلسطيني بالحزن ويخدم إسرائيل ولا أحد غير إسرائيل».
وأضاف مشعل: إن الشيخ القرضاوي يتحدث عن الأحداث في سورية كما لم يتحدث عن الأحداث التي جرت في مصر فهناك دعا إلى الوحدة بين الأقباط والمسلمين وبين السلفيين والإخوان وبين المذكورين وبين العلمانيين وهنا في سورية يدعو إلى القتال بين السنة والمسلمين العلويين؟ سبحان اللـه… ما هكذا عرفنا الشيخ القرضاوي.
وتابع مشعل: إننا في حركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس نشهد أنه لا مسلم قدم لفلسطين ما قدمه لها بشار الأسد ولا سني ضحى وخاطر بحكمه وببلده من أجل فلسطين ورفض التضييق على المقاومة الفلسطينية كما فعل بشار الأسد، وعلى الشيخ القرضاوي إن لم يكن لديه معطيات حقيقية عن سورية أن يستمع إلى الشعب السوري وإلى علماء الدين من أبنائه ليعرف أنه في هذا البلد يملك أهل السنة من الحرية والكرامة والعزة باللـه ما لا يملكه غيرهم في بلاد يحكمها سنة حيث هم فيها ضعفاء أمام الأميركي ومتخاذلون عن نصرة فلسطين.
وأثارت دعوة القرضاوي السوريين إلى التظاهر للأسبوع الثاني على التوالي، انتقاداً واستياء كبيرين في سورية، وأعلن عدد من المحامين السوريين الأربعاء الماضي أنهم رفعوا دعوى على القرضاوي بتهمة إثارة النعرات الطائفية وتهديد هيبة الدولة.

April 2nd, 2011, 11:30 pm


SOURI said:

I wonder how is all this going to affect the growth of the economy.

Tourism is definitely going to be hit. What about investment? Will foreign investment decrease significantly? Most foreign investment in Syria comes from Middle Eastern countries. I bet they are now scared after watching all this deceitful media coverage of Syria.

Syria has definitely lost because of this attack. Will president Assad compensate for the losses by implementing serious and deep reforms? I am not talking about silly reforms like allowing the Islamists to participate in political life (this would make things worse), but there are other necessary reforms that can improve Syria’s standing.

I hope that the restrictions on private media in Syria will be eased. Syria has only one private TV station which belongs to Rami Makhlouf (a very bad and unprofessional channel). We cannot continue like that. Rami Makhlouf cannot be the only one who owns a TV station and a newspaper in Syria. We must have tens of TV channels. Every governorate must have its own local channels that deal with its own problems and its own news.

Syrians are being hammered by Saudi-Wahhabi channels and by al-Jazeera (Ikhwan) day and night without a response from the local media. This is a deadly mistake. I don’t understand how the Syrian regime expects Syria to remain stable when all that Syrians are watching on TV is blatant sectarianism and Islamism propagated day and night by the Wahhabis and al-Jazzera. Things cannot continue this way. Syria must have its own TV channels. Bashar can set up a new mukhabarat division responsible for monitoring TV channels, but we must have new channels in Syria.

April 2nd, 2011, 11:33 pm


NK said:


Oh God man, another mukhabarat division ? I don’t want freedom or democracy or anything else in Syria, everything is fine as is, just please no more mukhabarat. lol


Are these the popular committees they’re talking about ?

They are talking to demonstrators alright !!!!

April 3rd, 2011, 12:01 am


Yossi said:

#20 “Syria Almighty”,

Astounding, what an act of courage! How many were shot or arrested?


Truth is they can have their little 7afla, no problem, and when they’re done, they’ll continue to enjoy free speech, free travel and an income of 20K+/- $US a year.

Being repressed was never easier than in al-joulan al-mekhtal.

And just fyi, I’m all for returning the al-joulan al-mekhtal to Syria, but no need to be silly and compare the situation of the Druze there to their brothers across the border who get slaughtered for asking for their basic rights.

And when the Golan will be returned to Syria, many of the Druze will choose to stay with Israeli Druze relatives in the Galilee, rather than live under Syrian rule. That’s what they tell anybody who asks (which I did, personally).

So… nice try at deflection, but not very convincing.

April 3rd, 2011, 12:18 am


AIG said:


Do you really think Israel is going to suffer anything worse than the second intifada in which your country funded and shielded Hamas and helped them to kill 1000 Israeli civilians in suicide bombings?

You are completely clueless about the amount of innocent Israeli blood your country is responsible for. Yet, neither Amir, nor I nor any Israeli are seeking revenge from you or are wishing ill to the Syrian people. Grow up.

Yes, Israel has problems, but Syria’s problems are on an entirely different scale. Israel has just joined the OECD and the average Israeli is about 10 times richer than the average Syrian. We are not the ones living under an emergency law for decades.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:36 am


Syria Almighty said:

Yossi is a Zionist.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:39 am


Yossi said:


You are almost correct in your last comment, except that: Israel still has emergency law in effect, enacted by the Brits in 1945 and never annulled, and that’s the legal basis for the indefinite detentions and blanket gag orders and lack of transparency regarding the nukes and other things.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:43 am


AIG said:


Come on. Yes, there are what are called emergency laws in Israel but clearly their scope is 1/100th of that in Syria. Nobody in the history of Israel was ever detained for speaking his mind.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:50 am


jad said:

Nour, this is another news:
دولي>>تركيا: لن نقبل بأي تصرف يؤدي إلى زعزعة الاستقرار في سورية وندعم ما قدمه الرئيس الأسد بخصوص الإصلاحات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية
03 نيسان , 2011

أكدت تركيا أمس أنها تولي اهتماماً بأمن واستقرار ورفاهية الشعب السوري بنفس القدر الذي توليه لشعبها و أنها لا يمكن أن تقبل أي سلوك أو تصرف يؤدي إلى زعزعة الاستقرار في سورية أو يلحق الأذى بإرادة الإصلاح في هذا البلد الصديق.

وقال المتحدث باسم وزارة الخارجية التركية في بيان له.. إننا في تركيا نؤمن إيماناً راسخاً بمدى الاهتمام الذي توليه الدولة والقيادة في سورية لتلبية مطالب الشعب مجددا دعم انقرة الكامل والقوي لما قدمه الرئيس بشار الأسد فيما يخص الإصلاحات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية وثقتها التامة بأن القيادة السورية تقوم بدور ريادي في هذا المجال.

وأضاف البيان انه لا يمكن لتركيا في ظل هذه المرحلة الدقيقة والحساسة أن ترضى أو تقبل إطلاقاً بأي سلوك أو تصرف يؤدي إلى زعزعة الاستقرار في سورية أو يلحق الأذى بإرادة الإصلاح في هذا البلد الصديق والشقيق.

وقال إنه من الواضح أن سورية سوف تباشر في القريب العاجل برنامج الإصلاحات لتلبية آمال وتطلعات الشعب السوري.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:52 am


AIG said:

Really, if Syrians believe the Ba’athist crap, they deserve Assad for another 40 years. Oh look, the Zionist are making our schools bad. Oh look, because of the Zionists we do not have jobs. If we only had the Golan, Syria would be a paradise. etc. etc.

If you believe Assad, just keep him. He is doing a great job at keeping Syria weak and poor.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:56 am


Revlon said:

#20 Syria Almighty,
“In the most repressed area in Syria, the Golan Heights”

You have used the scale of repression to compare who was worse, Israel in the Golan, or the regime, in the rest of Syria.
I would hold my Judgement, because I am not adequately informed about the Golanite’s plight!

But I must commend you, for using the appropriate scale!

April 3rd, 2011, 2:03 am


Revlon said:

#45, Dear Nour: عتصامات وتجمعات تنحصر مطالبها في الخدمات ومعاقبة مسؤولين محليين!ا

Here is the counter strory:

Traitor is he, who kill own people!
Down the System!
Talbiseh, Homs, Yesterday

Funeral of Martyr, Samer 7wairi,
Alfati7a upon his soul
May God bless his parents with solace and empower his family with patience!

اللجان المشكلة بتوجيه من الرئيس الأسد بدأت أعمالها وقد تنتهي قبل المهل المحددة
Right on! Wa2dulfitnah Committees are indeed at work! They have been the most efficient!

They killed this boy!
Duma, Last Friday!
Alfati7a upon his soul!
May God bless his parents with solace and empower his family with patience!

April 3rd, 2011, 2:14 am


Yossi said:


I agree with your statement about scope of application. I don’t think you’re correct about the “never ever” statement though. I think people often get arrested on trumped-up charges and then held for a while, and then released without being prosecuted.

Or sometimes a “security” case is built in order to shut people up, as has likely been the case in the Ameer Makhul case. Hold him up in administrative detention for months until he breaks and signs a plea deal.

In the territories it’s a completely different story, there you get arrested easily for speaking your mind. PARTICULARLY for speaking your mind as non-violent resistance is the scenario Israel is mot afraid of. Israel in the territories is worse than the Baath in Syria.


You have a problem with impartial judgement, you know that, right? If you are going to take the preacher stand here and preach to the Syrians might as well be accurate and impartial in your assertions.

April 3rd, 2011, 2:14 am


Syria Almighty said:

Years ago, I saw a video of Israeli police storming a synagogue and BEATING worshipers because they supported a Palestinian state.

April 3rd, 2011, 3:01 am


Shai said:

Syria Almighty,

Don’t do that – it’ll ruin the Apartheid image – Israeli police beating its own Jewish citizens?!?

Btw, to all those who are convinced of the obvious Zionist Plot to bring down the Assad Regime (and replace with… what?), you can add the next chapter to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, called “The Case of Egypt”. It will soon be considered incontrovertible evidence, that Facebook brought down the Egyptian Regime, and that none other than a 26 year old Jew was behind it all (Mark Zuckerberg). It’s so clear, I wonder why people haven’t brought it up already.

You can be the second! (I’m the first). 🙂

I agree 100% with the Zionist Yossi’s comment up above regarding the repressed Druze citizens of the Golan.

April 3rd, 2011, 4:24 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

I join Yossi the post-Zionist, and the ‘his Zionism yet has to be proven’, Shai.. 🙂

April 3rd, 2011, 6:11 am


why-discuss said:

BAD TIMING The recent Arab unrest has effectively killed prospects for incremental political reform by China’s leaders.

Where ‘Jasmine’ Means Tea, Not a Revolt
Published: April 2, 2011

BEIJING — Over the nearly four decades since President Richard M. Nixon established diplomatic ties with Red China, American politicians have clung to the idea that the growing ranks of Chinese entrepreneurs and college-educated strivers would one day find electoral democracy irresistible. But a stroll through one of the capital’s upscale malls quickly demolishes such idealistic notions — and instead makes you wonder whether China’s autocrats have struck on a flexible model of long-lasting rule.
At the Oriental Plaza mall, young professionals dressed in Nikes and Abercrombie & Fitch openly profess their admiration for Communist Party governance. ”Any change in the political system would just throw China into disorder,” said Guo Ting, a 30-year-old office assistant. “Our leaders are doing a good job.”

April 3rd, 2011, 6:12 am


Khorshid said:


The correct word ıs Al-Mo7talla (is the same ح as in 7afla).

April 3rd, 2011, 6:17 am


Nour said:

الرئيس الأسد يصدر المرسوم رقم 134 القاضي بتكليف الدكتور عادل سفر تشكيل حكومة الجمهورية العربية السورية

April 3rd, 2011, 6:39 am


why-discuss said:

By AP News
Sunday, April 03, 2011

Syrian President Bashar Assad appointed a former agriculture minister Sunday to form a new government, part of a series of overtures toward reform as the country faces a wave of anti-government protests.

Adel Safar, the former agriculture minister, will form the new Cabinet, according to Syria’s state-run television. He is generally regarded as a respectable figure in a government that many had criticized for corruption. ….

April 3rd, 2011, 7:11 am


Shai said:


I think that Moldovan corporal should teach Yossi what a “Real Zionist” is… Yossi’s patriotism needs a refresher-course (in Russian, preferably).

April 3rd, 2011, 7:22 am


Norman said:

Hey Shai, Yossi,

Don’t you think that the Druze you talked to told you what you wanted to hear because they thought that you were Israeli Mukhabarat.?, Probably.

April 3rd, 2011, 11:15 am


Jerusalem said:

Thank you for your feedback on Kurds. I did not know they were Syrians. I thought that they were Iraqis fled during the war.

As for you argument: oppressed women to get their voices to the public and stand up for their rights ? demonstrations are illegal and there is no press thanks to the lovely state of emergency!!!

This is very weak argument. Actually you are doing exactly like your government blaming people seeking freedom of speech on Israel instead of fixing their own flaws.

You are blaming oppressed women on the government because they cannot get their voices to the public. They need to start liberating themselves at home before getting to the street. At least some sort of family planning instead of massive breeding or this is a law in Syria you have to maximize procreation. The government can employ 50% of all jobs but there is so much it can do. Do you see the US administration employing 50% of the population?
Not to mention that during Assad speech with saw few women in parliament granted veiled but at least they were present. Which we did not see during Mubarak speech, Ali Saleh speech or Tunisia’s ousted president. So the government doesn’t seem to oppress women. Don’t blame it all on Assad. His spoke person is a woman..
Compare apple to apple and take on some of the responsibilities to fix your own conditions. Right now, he is the best structured hierarchy if he goes the military goes with him..i.e. complete chaos.He is offering changes wait and see little bit more. Syrians endured all these years can’t handle another few months? Once Ki singer said (with similar wording) settle for less negotiate for more.. Have Palestinians accepted the first , first offer available on the table, they would’ve been with a bigger territory than little Gaza with wonderful Hamas. Complaining for the sake of complaining makes you a looser. Last but not least, Mubarak is gone but the state of emergency law in Egypt has not been lifted with no specific date in sight!

April 3rd, 2011, 12:21 pm


Shai said:

Hi Norman,

Yossi and I spoke mostly with Jewish residents on our visit to the Golan, who seemed very worried about Netanyahu. Not wishing to speak for Yossi, but I think what he’s saying is that the Druze on the Golan, while loyal to Syria, do still enjoy far greater freedom and standard of living than their brethren across the fence do. They are certainly not “repressed”, as Syria Almighty suggested up in #21. Theirs is a very different life than the Palestinians’ in the West Bank or Gaza.

While I very much hope that one day all our borders will be open, it is probably safe to assume that not all Druze currently living on the Golan will stay there, when it is handed back to Syria. If the Druze will have the option, I imagine many will choose to relocate to the Galilee, though maybe not most.

April 3rd, 2011, 12:40 pm


NK said:


You’re putting words in my mouth, I did not accuse the regime of women oppression, I actually asked you what is the extent of women oppression in Syria as a whole, not in Daraa that have maybe 2% of the total population !

Take a walk around Damascus or Aleppo where 50% of the population resides, women are everywhere and participate in every aspect of life, which makes your argument that Syrian women are severely oppressed a very weak one, you can’t take Daraa as the “standard”.

I’m just curious how long have you lived in Syria ?.

As for your “can’t you wait a bit longer” remark, I said it many times before that evolution is better than revolution, and that I’m all for waiting a month or two for the regime to fulfill those promises they made 10 days ago, I’m not going to wait 11 more years though.

April 3rd, 2011, 12:43 pm


Riad said:


Thank you very much.

April 3rd, 2011, 12:53 pm


Yossi said:


No, that wouldn’t make sense. Nobody is asking them to leave their homes and move into Israel (Galilee and Mt. Carmel) and stay Israeli citizens, in the event of a peace accord. This is just their personal preference, maybe because they now have a business in Israel, or family ties, or they worked for the Israeli security forces and are afraid of ostracism once they go back under Syrian rule.

Also, as you’ve seen (in those videos), saying that you are a Syrian national and support the Syrian regime is also acceptable but the SHABAK is monitoring these people closely to make sure it remains at the declarative level and that they don’t spy on Israel for Syria.

It’s by no means a normal situation for any party involved, but overall nobody is trying to make the Druzes’ lives harder while a peace accord hasn’t been signed.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:07 pm


Shai said:


You probably know more about the differences between Golan and Galilee Druze than I do. From what I know, most of the Druze serving in the IDF tend not come from the Golan.

But it is well known in Israel that the Druze do serve, as opposed to Arab-Israelis, I would say they’re definitely looked at much more favorably (unfortunately). Maybe the Shaback suspects them (or “keeps an eye on them” as you suggested), but I would say not the average Israeli.

April 3rd, 2011, 1:21 pm


Norman said:

Shai, Yossi,
To serve in the Israeli army, i believe, yo u have to be Israeli, even though Israel offered the Druze from the Golan citizenship, most refused and that explains not joining the Israeli army, correct me if i am wrong, about where they like to live ask the Palestinians , they all want to live in Israel as equal but that is not offered to them ,

About asking them where they like to live , I tend to tell the French that i like to live in France and the German that i like to live in Germany, just to make them feel good about their countries and to like me.then That is me.

April 3rd, 2011, 2:13 pm


Shai said:


I don’t think all the Golan Druze refused Israeli citizenship. I even remember seeing some Druze soldiers walking around in Druze villages on the Golan.

There’s an old joke about the mayor of Majdal Shams, that he has a picture of the President of Israel on his wall, and that on the other side there’s the President of Syria. I agree with you, if I asked a Druze on the Golan where he’d like to live, he’s not likely to tell me Syria (more out of politeness than out of fear). But if you asked him, he’s not likely to say Israel…

It will be interesting to see what the Druze will do when given the choice, and if the choice will even be given to them. I can foresee court battles over this issue, even for Druze who “refused” Israeli citizenship (they could claim they did so out of fear).

April 3rd, 2011, 2:37 pm


Norman said:


I do not think that any of them will care as long as they have their house and have work and can send their kids to school, Real Estate tax and sale tax will support their towns ,

They probably will like the economic system of Israel and the tax system of Syria, No real tax,

April 3rd, 2011, 2:55 pm


Yossi said:

Norman and Shai,

Sorry if I wasn’t clear about this—yes, most of the Joulani Druze don’t enlist in the army, and those that are afraid to go back probably collaborated in more subtle ways with Israel than just being a simple soldier in the army…

Yallah go ahead and sort your internal issues in Syria already so that we could have peace and that all these people could have closure!

Have you seen The Syrian Bride? Interesting Israeli-Druze movie. You can watch it on online on Netflix:


I especially liked the performance of Hiam Abbass.

April 3rd, 2011, 9:39 pm


Norman said:

Yossi, Shai,

That will be really nice and good, let us hope that Netanyahu has it in him, We know Assad does, especially after what is happening in Syria, now is the time to move ahead.

April 3rd, 2011, 9:50 pm


Shai said:


Recent developments might prove useful. In Syria, Assad is pressed to prove his government can deliver. Delivering the Golan is no exception. And in Israel, Netanyahu is about to undergo a serious corruption investigation against himself and his wife over the past decade. Last time an Israeli PM had to go through that (Olmert), he quickly found himself sitting at Erdogan’s house, talking indirectly with Assad… It’s difficult to throw a PM in jail, if he ends the Arab-Israeli conflict… The President’s then sure to pardon him. Good insurance plan. 🙂

April 4th, 2011, 12:41 am


Shai said:

Hey Akbar, AIG,

Compared to Barak, your Netanyahu IS the Liberal-Leftist you love so much. Netanyahu freezes settlement buildup, while Barak approves… and plenty of it!

Next time, know who to vote into power!


But the truth is, it’s brilliant. Barak just doesn’t understand it.

The Right winks to itself, how it managed to get Barak on board to do its dirty work for them. To build settlements. Barak, unknowingly, is killing a two-state solution and heading us closer than ever to a binational state (Belgium, for instance). So in a way, he’s delivering the ultra-leftist dream, and The Right’s letting him do it…

April 4th, 2011, 12:46 am


Syria – Hafez al-Asad is back! said:

[…] (SyriaComments, April 2, 2011) […]

August 20th, 2011, 12:41 pm


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