News Round Up (3 May 2011) Syrian Banks Asked to Pay for Stable Syrian Pound - Syria Comment

News Round Up (3 May 2011) Syrian Banks Asked to Pay for Stable Syrian Pound

Impact on Arab uprisings (4 minute Radio show of Bin Laden’s death and the Arab Spring)
Public Radio International – The World ⋅ May 2, 2011

Joshua Landis talks to anchor Lisa Mullins about the impact Bin Laden’s death may have on what some are calling the “Arab Spring.” Download MP3

A dramatic development on the economic front.
By Ehsani

The central bank just asked the banks to pay close to 3% higher interest rates on deposits.They will have to raise the lending rate up to 12 to 13% to protect their profit margins.  The government is doing everything they can to support the SYP exchange rate. In the past, the Central bank intervened by selling dollars and buying syp to try and bring the value back. They seem to have decided not to use their reserves anymore. Their plan B has just been executed. By raising rates up so sharply, they hope to bring people’s money back in SYP. The deposit rate now will be up to 10%. They also raised deposit rates on dollars by close to 2.5%. Unless the banks are able to raise their lending rates by as much, their profits will be wiped out. The lending rates were already close to 10%. They will have to now raise it close to 12% or higher to make any money. This is a dramatic development that will send shivers through the spine of the banking industry.  Banks are being asked to subsidize the effort to stabilize the currency.

The central bank has also issued the following new decree:

An individual can now exchange up to $120,000 a year (up from $10,000 per person), but he has to keep the money at the bank for a year before he can take it out in dollars. In other words, the central bank will guarantee the 47 SYP exchange rate if you agree to leave your money at the bank in a deposit for one year for an amount not exceeding $120,000 a year.

The Damascus Stock Exchange has risen for the first time in 14 sessions (small rise).

Syria wants to talk to opposition leaders, but there aren’t any
By Nicholas Blanford, Christian Science Monitor

Western diplomats say that some members of Syria’s Assad regime are ready to reach out, but a dearth of visible leaders gives those advocating force the upper hand.

The beleaguered Syrian authorities are seeking negotiations with opposition leaders to end six weeks of unprecedented street protests that threaten to topple the Assad regime, according to Western diplomatic sources. They say that Bouthaina Shaaban, a top adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, has been placed in charge of exploring ways to launch a dialogue.

But amid a harsh crackdown on protesters, a rising death toll, and reports of thousands of people detained and missing, the regime is struggling to find anyone in the opposition who wants to talk.

“We say no to negotiations, at least until the secret police are gone from Syria. And when the secret police goes, then the regime will go as well,” says Rami Nakhle, a Syrian opposition activist in Beirut.

A European ambassador in Damascus says that the hard-line elements in the regime appeared to have the upper hand for now in attempting to suppress the uprising by force. “There are some [members of the regime] who want to talk to the opposition, but they keep telling us they have no one to talk to,” the ambassador says.

The opposition has no credible, publicly visible figurehead or leadership group that can appeal across Syria’s complicated sectarian and ethnic divides.

Opposition leaders consist mainly of aging secular intellectuals, exiled former members of the Assad regime and Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood, and young, technologically savvy activists who are using social networking sites to mobilize and publicize the protest movement.

“There is no one in Syria who can speak on behalf of the opposition and this is better for us,” says Mr. Nakle, the opposition activist. “There is no point in negotiating with these people.”

Assad’s rule marked by ‘incompetence’ – diplomat……

Der Spiegel: Syria’s Neighbors Fear Regime Change
2011-05-03, By Clemens Höges, Samiha Shafy and Bernhard Zand.

Are Assad’s Days Numbered? Syria’s Neighbors Fear Regime Change Despite its brutality….

Qatar has cancelled investment for two power projects in Syria:

Protest organizers called for demonstrations in Banyas for today 3 May, but al Jazeera reports that there is no demonstrations in Syria today so far.

Susan Dirgham provides a summary of the situation after spending a week over Easter in Damascus.

Dissecting an Aljazeera Report of a Massacre:  by Yaseen Dhaifalla –  Exposing al-Jazeera Lies. Interesting analysis of Cal Perry’s report on the massacre at Izzra that Syria Comment copied.

Syria Detains 1,000 People in Two Days, Local Rights Group Says
May 03, 2011,
By Massoud Derhally

May 3 (Bloomberg) — Syrian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people in the last two days as a crackdown on demonstrations intensifies, according to a local activist group.

About half of the detentions took place in the southern province of Daraa, scene of the most violent clashes between protesters and security forces, Ammar Qurabi, head of Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights, said in a phone interview today.

Syria has sent troops to quell demonstrations, inspired by popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, that have spread across the country and posed the most serious challenge to the 11-year rule of President Bashar Al-Assad. Qurabi estimates that more than 550 people have died since the uprising began in mid-March.

The crisis in Syria is “quickly going beyond the point of no return,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report today. “The regime’s hope appears to be that a massive crackdown can bring the protesters to heel,” a policy that may lead to “loss of life on a massive scale,” sectarian conflict and the destabilization of Syria’s neighbours, it said.

Syrians tell of torture in detention amid mass arrests, 3 May 2011

Amnesty International has received first-hand reports of torture and other ill-treatment from detainees held in Syria as a wave of arrests of anti-government protesters intensified over the weekend.

Robert Fisk Wrong – Aboud writes:

My friend, Fisk’s account of what happened in Telkelakh is wrong. There was no massacre. The 4th Div are nowhere near Telkelakh (it was the 11th division that was tasked with surrounding the town). In fact, in the firefight more security personal were wounded than their opposition.

I am not an apologist for the regime, but nothing of the sort that Fisk described actually happened. There was a demo, which someone shot at. Being well armed from years of smuggling, some inhabitants shot back. The security forces retreated and then tried to re-enter the town at night. There was a massive exchange of fire, and the security forces withdrew again.

The next day people were allowed out of the village, and the government negotiated with a delegate, that the army would withdraw, if no more demonstrations took place. This being Telkelakh, the young men promptly went out and demonstrated anyway.

Things are back to normal, it is by no means a “ghost town for Sunnis”. Sheikh Usama Al-Akari was released and was happily denouncing the regime from his Friday prayers pulpit two days later.

Syria Today
Daily News Brief – 2 May 2011

Deadly clashes over the past week pushed the death toll since the turmoil in Syria began in March to above 550, human rights groups told Reuters.

The Syrian authorities however only recently produced an estimate of civilian casualties – around 128, including 78 soldiers and security personnel – SANA, the state news agency, reported.

Meanwhile the Syrian media continues to report the deaths and injuries of soldiers and security officials and make occasional reference to civilian deaths at the hands of “extremists”, “terrorists” and “armed gangs”.

Yesterday SANA said eight army and security officials were buried in Homs, after being killed by “extremist terrorist groups” in Dara’a and Homs.

The government continues to pledge reforms in a bid to garner support. President al-Assad’s newly appointed Prime Minister Adel Safar announced on Sunday in a cabinet meeting that the government aims to set up three committees that will develop “a comprehensive plan for desired reforms,” focusing on political, security, judiciary, economic, and social policies, SANA reported.

Finally, the Ministry of Electric Power told SANA that the government is working with Italian and Greek firms to expand the energy sector to meet the country’s growing needs. The statement comes a day after two Qatari companies tasked with building two power plants announced they were withdrawing from the country.

Kuwaiti Amir to visit Syria now that he believes Assad will survive

امير الكويت يزور سوريا الاحد المقبل

أفادت قناة الاخبارية السورية ان امير الكويت الشيخ صباح الأحمد الجابر الصباح سيزور سوريا الاحد المقبل وسيبقى فيها ليومين

Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Syria yesterday: (Thanks Firat)

“We are trying to help the Syria government realize the reforms in a way that is consistent with the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. …We hope that reforms will be implemented without having spilled blood. We hope that there will be a multi-party democracy representing the will of the people.

In Turkish: “Suriye ile devlet olarak devamlı temas halindeyiz. Bu olaylar başlamadan önce bile temas halindeyiz. Oradaki reformların gerçekleşmesi, halkın meşru talepleri doğrultusunda değişimin gerçekleşmesi yönünde de yapıcı katkı sağlamaya çalışıyoruz. Tabii ki en kötü senaryolara karşı da tedbirlerimizi alıyoruz. Bu bağlamda maalesef geçenlerde bildiğiniz gibi 300 civarında Suriye vatandaşı sınırımızı geçip Türkiye’ye sığınmışlardır. Dolayısıyla tedbirler alındığı için yerleştirilecekleri yere taşınmıştır, yerleştirilmiştir. Dileriz ki bu olaylar geçer geçmez, Suriye’de kardeş kanı dökülmeden reform ve değişiklikler gerçekleşir. Orada çok partili, demokratik ve halkın iradesinin hükümete yansıdığı bir düzen kurulur.”

Turkish Premier Says Turkey does not Want Separation of Syria – Monday, 2 May 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, “Turkey definitely does not want separation of Syria. And Syria should not allow any attempts that could pave the way for separation.”

Erdogan told a TV program on Sunday, “we have friendly and historical relations with Syria. Following the developments in northern Africa, we felt uneasy whether those developments could trigger similar incidents in our region. During my latest visit to Damascus, I shared those concerns with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. I urged him that the emergency rule imposed in Syria for more than 40 years should be ended. President al-Assad did not voice any opposite views, but he failed to take the necessary steps. In the end, Syria has come to this point.”

“We have opened the border crossing with Syria to let Syrian people in. We cannot close the door to them. But, we have also taken a series of measures,” he said.

“Turkey definitely does not want separation of Syria. And Syria should not allow any attempts that could pave the way for separation. It is people’s freedom we are talking about. President al-Assad should assume a determined attitude in this struggle for freedom. He declared that the emergency rule was lifted, but the decision should be put into practice. People should not be killed,” he said.

Erdogan referred to corruption in Syria, “we are ready to do our utmost to assist Syria in its combat against corruption.”

“Eventually, the UN Security Council will discuss the incidents in Syria. Syria should not face another massacre like the one in Hama in 1982. I urged President al-Assad to be extremely sensitive about it. If such a massacre is carried out once again, Syria cannot deal with its consequences. Because, the international community will display a harsh reaction. And, Turkey will have to fulfill our responsibilities in such a situation,” he added.

Unrest impacts transport services between Jordan, Syria
By Muath Freij

AMMAN – Transport services between Jordan and Syria have been badly hit by the political unrest in the neighbouring country, according to owners of transport firms which ferry passengers between the two countries.

They said the number of travellers started to drop gradually since the protests started in Syria almost six weeks ago, but with the closure of the border near Ramtha transport services have almost come to a halt.

An owner of three transport offices in Amman told The Jordan Times that his business has declined by 95 per cent because of the events in Daraa, which is the main entry point to Syria.

France is calling on EU sanctions that would target Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The EU will “urgently consider further appropriate and targeted measures with the aim of achieving an immediate change of policy by the Syrian leadership,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Catherine Hunter
3 May 2011, IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis

Significance

The United States and EU are increasing sanctions against Syria because of its repressive crackdown on popular protests, so far looking at restrictions on individuals and specific goods, but with measures against the country’s energy sector mooted as a potential next step.

Implications

Syria is already struggling to capture necessary investment for growth, in the energy sector and outside, with further financial or trade restrictions and even indirect measures on individuals likely to compound these issues, should the current regime withstand the mounting opposition.

Outlook

Constraints on international oil availability make outright restrictions on Syrian oil exports or imports unlikely at this stage, although action that penalises energy investors or restricts funds is more likely if the Syrian regime persists with its current course.

With some 500 people now reported killed as a result of violence in Syria, the European Union (EU) and the United States are both stepping up unilateral sanctions against the regime in the absence of consensus at the United Nations, where China, Russia and Lebanon have opposed Security Council action.

The US has stepped up its existing sanctions, imposed in 2004, with an asset freeze on three individuals associated with the crackdown on protestors. Meanwhile, the EU agreed last week that it will also impose sanctions, with a list of targeted individuals to be drawn up for approval by foreign ministers on 12 May. It will stop arms shipments and direct payments to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from a EUR40-million/year aid programme. No agreement has yet been reached within the EU on the proposed suspension of EUR1.3-billion-worth of investment by the European Investment Bank (EIB), however, which includes funding for power plants and other infrastructure. Nevertheless, discussions continue over this and other punitive economic measures, included in which is action against the country’s oil exports, which are small in terms of an international contribution but significant in terms of government revenues. Figures from the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) show that total oil consumption stood at 297,900 b/d in 2009, down from 344,200 b/d in 2008 as a result of the removal of subsidies, with oil production of around 380,000 b/d, enabling some exports of products and crude.

…..International oil companies have so far said that operations remain unaffected by the protests and crackdowns. They include Shell, Total, CNPC and Gulfsands, alongside Suncor, who participate in oil and gas production through production sharing agreements with the state-owned Syrian Petroleum Company. Shell, through its 65% stake in Syria Shell Petroleum Development (SSPD), has said that it has offered to relocate dependents, but that offices remain open. Total too has said that it was “vigilant”, in comments reported by Platts. Nonetheless, growing international isolation and restrictions on trade are likely to have repercussions down the line if the regime survives the current unrest, with previous rounds of sanctions tending to deter investment in the country’s energy sector, even if the terms did not explicitly include this….

Syria: Quickly Going beyond the Point of No Return
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP – NEW MEDIA RELEASE

Brussels, 3 May 2011: The situation in Syria is quickly going beyond the point of no return. By denouncing all forms of protest as sedition, and dealing with them through escalating violence, the regime is closing the door on any possible honourable exit to a deepening national crisis. With little the international community can do, the optimal outcome is one whose chances are dwindling by the day: an immediate end to the violence and a genuine national dialogue to pave the way for a transition to a representative, democratic political order.

Over the past several weeks, a number of Syrians have taken to the streets chiefly to express frustration over their worsening economic predicament, outrage at the brutality and unaccountability of the security forces, and solidarity with parts of the country that have witnessed the fiercest forms of repression.

For a time, the regime acknowledged the existence of legitimate grievances. But it has now reverted to its initial characterisation of the protests as a global conspiracy, lumping together the U.S., Israel, Syria’s Arab enemies in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular, former regime officials and home-grown fundamentalists. Official media tell a tale in which the security apparatus features as sole victim, persecuted by armed groups, innocent of any misdeed and striving to uphold national unity. The regime blames all casualties on its foes — agents provocateurs and, more recently, jihadis. Gruesome pictures of dead (and sometimes mutilated) bodies of security officials lie at the core of this narrative. The regime once paid tr ibute to civilian casualties as well. Ominously, no more.

Although one cannot exclude possible foreign involvement in the ongoing crisis, credible evidence points to abundant instances of excessive and indiscriminate state violence, including arbitrary arrests, torture and firing into peaceful crowds. At its core, this is a spontaneous, peaceful, popular uprising, fuelled far more by the regime’s own actions than by any putative outside interference. There are plausible reports of security forces being ambushed by unidentified armed groups, as well as of protesters firing back when attacked. But for those on the ground, there can be no doubt that the vast majority of casualties are the result of regime brutality. The regime is also fanning the flames of sectarianism, spreading rumours of impending attacks targeting specific groups. Sectarian tendencies no doubt exist in parts of the country. But the authorities’ tactics betray a determined and cynical attempt to exploit and exacerbate them.

At this point, moreover, questions are being raised both about the authorities’ ability to control and discipline the security apparatus and about the security forces’ willingness to convey to their political leadership a truthful picture of what is happening on the ground. Even at the best of times, large segments of the security services have been plagued by sectarianism, corruption, incompetence and a sense of wholesale impunity. These features are all the more likely to surface amid a crisis. To date, the leadership has evinced no readiness to impose clarity of mission, discipline or accountability on its security apparatus; there is, for example, not a single known instance of meaningful sanctions to punish unlawful or excessive use=2 0of force.

The regime’s violent, unlawful and disorderly response has only further deepened a pervasive sense of chaos. In turn, this has discredited the reforms it announced in hopes of defusing the situation and shoring up its political base. However meaningful or promising they might have been on paper, they have proven worthless in practice. ….Finally, and although it has engaged in numerous bilateral talks with local representatives, it resists convening a national dialogue, which might represent the last, slim chance for a peaceful way forward.

The regime’s hope appears to be that a massive crackdown can bring the protesters to heel. Some claim that a show of force is required to restore calm and provide the room necessary to carry out reforms. Such a course of action would entail loss of life on a massive scale. It could usher in a period of sectarian fighting with devastating consequences for Syria. It could destabilise its neighbours. And, ultimately, it is highly unlikely to work.

Even if massive repression were to succeed in the short term, any such victory would at best be pyrrhic. In the wake of the crackdown, the security services would rule supreme. President Assad’s domestic and international credibility would be shattered. Few countries would be willing to lend a hand to redress a devastated economy. Major investments, development projects and cultural ventures would find few foreign partners. Assad might well prevent forcible regime change, but the regime will have been fundamentally transformed all the same.

The only — decreasingly realistic- chance to avoid this outcome would be for the regime to take immediate steps to ….create the space necessary for representatives of the popular movement to articulate their demands and for negotiations on a real, far-reaching program of reforms to proceed. Most importantly, it would give the regime the opportunity to demonstrate it has more to offer than empty words and certain doom…..

…one should not ignore the views of many Syrians – even among those without sympathy for the regime – who continue to fear its precipitous collapse . They dread the breakup of a state whose institutions, including the military, are weak even by regional standards. They fear that sectarian dynamics or a hegemonic religious agenda could take hold. They are suspicious of possible foreign interference. And they distrust an exiled opposition that is all too reminiscent of Iraq’s. Short of the regime’s implosion, they seem persuaded that only an indigenous, negotiated solution can offer hope for a successful political transition.

Assad “Brutality” Will Lead To His Downfall – Israeli
2011-05-03

JERUSALEM (AFP)–The “brutality” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s response to anti-government protesters will lead to the downfall of his regime, according to Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “I think that Assad is approaching the point where he will lose his internal legitimacy,” Barack told Israel’s Channel 10 television Monday night….I don’t think he can restore his legitimacy. “He may recover, but in my opinion it won’t be the same and he is destined to meet the same fact as the leaders of other Arab countries shaken by uprisings.”

But Barak said that “Israel has nothing to fear from Assad being replaced,” despite the concerns of many in the Jewish state, who see the Syrian leader as a known quantity whose downfall could spell violence for Israel. “The process taking place across the Middle East is very promising and inspires hope in the long term,”

Mark A. writes

First, I am by no means an expert on Syrian History or economic development, but I have a few observations.

I failed to find data that would confirm my hunch that Syria has less natural resources per capita than Turkey or China. What is clear from the numbers is that Syria has much less industry than Turkey or China. Syria’s Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 17%; industry: 16%; services: 67% (2008 est.). Turkey’s Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 29.5%; industry: 24.7%; services: 45.8% (2005). China’s Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 38.1%; industry: 27.8%; services: 34.1% (2008 est.) – data from the CIA Factbook.

Syrians are poor. According to the CIA Factbook: GDP – per capita (PPP, 2010 est.): Syria: $4800; China: $7400; Turkey: $12,300. I could not find any hard data on income distribution. My impression from a business trip to China last month is that China also has an income distribution issue and there is a lot of unhappiness among the “have nots.” However the Chinese, at all economic levels I spoke to, are happier today than under Mao and especially the Cultural Revolution. Also there is a feeling that China is moving ahead so I don’t feel that people want to dismount an economic “winning horse.” Turkey is clearly winning compared to Syria in economic metrics and is still on ascendancy. Turks may be unhappy with a particular party in power but they aren’t going to revolt against the system that is “bringing home the bacon” (with apologies to my “halal” friends).

My point is any talk of Syria adopting the “Turkey model” or the “China model” needs to be underpinned by massive industrial growth. Syrian government policies do affect the wealth generated and how it is distributed. I understand why people are willing to protest against the government for “a better life.”

Political rights are not high in Syria, China (e.g. Tibet) or Turkey (e.g. Kurdish). For sure there are some Syrians who have hate for the government based on abuse they suffered in the past. It is obvious that they will protest against the government to “change the government”. To these people it is a nuance that Bashar isn’t Hafez. However I believe as long as an individual hasn’t been tortured, has some discretionary income and savings, their willingness to protest for political rights is not as high as if they were dirt poor. My point is a government that enables economic advance buys good will and tolerance from the people.

My observation is that Syrians enjoy greater minority rights and religious freedoms than the Turks or the Chinese. Of course there are some who would actually want to see the religious freedom reduced, the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood who has as its slogan “Islam is the solution” and/or Wahhabism that advocates purging Islam of “impurities”. I understand why these people would want to protest and ferment social disorder, for them this uprising is a golden opportunity not to be missed. It is a well-worn trick for a few confederates to join in a peaceful protest, provoke the security services and precipitate a violent crackdown. I suggest that those protesting for “a better life” need to watch out that their efforts don’t get high jacked by a few bent on Radical Islam.

There is another group who will benefit from a change of government, and those are the individuals who will take power in the new government. A post in the new government will be the opportunity to accumulate more money in a few months than possible to make via hard work in business or industry in a lifetime. How would one go about this? This is a classic long odds scenario. An algorithm would be to become vocal about the government, flee the country for London or Washington, spent lots of time drinking coffee in a swank cafe with friends, form a foundation or committee, get charity, oops, I mean grants and contributions, make grand plans, give interviews and hang around for something to happen. A must have is a website and/or Facebook account. If revolution never happens, it is not that hard of a life. If revolution happens, you can wait out the messy parts, safe in London or Washington. Then once the blood has stopped flowing you can make a triumphal return to take your rightful place in the government. The most difficult decision you would have had to make is what color to use as a background on your website. I suggest that those protesting for “a better life” need to watch out for individuals “helping” the revolution from a safe distance.

The case against the government is clear. Of course there are things outside the government’s control like droughts, youth bulge, actions by neighboring countries, international commodity prices. However economically, Syrian has not prospered. I believe economic improvement is more important than political rights. A Syria with freer speech and the right to vote would still be a poor country in a drought with a youth bulge and a lack of inward investment.

The case for the government (Bashar) is also clear. I believe that civil war, assassinations, ethnic cleansing and property expropriation are a real possibility. These have gone in four of Syria’s boarding countries, Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Iraq and Turkey (against the Kurdish and Armenians). I see no reason to believe “it can’t happen here”. Once started it could spiral out of control quickly. There will be no external power to stop it. It could get very bad. For those protesting “a better life” they need to be aware there is a potential downside of change.

My preferred way forward, short of putting me in charge, would be for Bashar to:

1. Strengthen the court systems. A fair and impartial court system is a prerequisite for economic growth.

2. Establish Capital Punishment for corruption. Okay, this is extreme, but China uses it to keep control.

3. Establish a cabinet for economic growth. For too long under Hafez the cabinets have been around politics and the military. Bashar hasn’t distanced himself enough from this legacy.

4. Break up the monopolies. Enable competition based on price, quality, and availability. “The Sin in Syria is Low Wages” by Ehsani October 17, 2010 here in Syria Comment is one of the best articles I have read on the subject.

5. Curb the “super wealthy families” and allow more to obtain wealth. Currently Syria is akin to a Russia model with their oligarchs where as the China model has more competition. The point is in Syria the “super wealthy” use their position to stifle competition, which is counter productive to growth.

6. Emulate Turkey for economic growth; they are the “hot” economic growth engine in the neighborhood. It is interesting that the uprising is strongest in the south, away from Turkey.

7. Cut a deal with Israel, or at a minimum present a reasonable plan and make the Israelis look incalcitrant. (The government should “leak” transcripts of the negotiation about the Golan to Wikileaks so the world can see the positions of the two countries and realize that Syria made real concessions only to have the negotiations torpedoed by the Israelis). While the Golan is an important issue, catching up with Turkey’s $12,300 GDP per capita is an order of magnitude more important.

8. Limit presidential terms. This will allow people to wait it out and not feel compelled to take to the streets.

9. Set a bold target like applying for associate membership in the European Union in 2020 (Turkey applied for associate membership in the European Economic Community in 1959).

10. Keep a tight lid on Radical Islam.

Comments (102)


Mina said:

Mark A.’s suggestions at the end of the article seem to me excellent. Let’s hope they are read!

May 3rd, 2011, 1:44 pm

 

majedkhaldoon said:

While the central banks can afford such increase in interest rate (3%)in the short future, it reflect high level of fear and anxiety, it must have extreme negative effect on the economy,it will scare people, slow the growth, however I like to ask Ehsani about his expectations of the next three month,economy wise.

May 3rd, 2011, 2:05 pm

 

Aatssi said:

So Robert Fisk Wrong and Aboud correct !! That is SOOOOOOO funny and incorrect,
Robert Fisk report was based on witness and independent sources “ Can Aboud give us his sources”..

May 3rd, 2011, 2:12 pm

 

Atassi said:

I see trouble in the horizon for the Syrian economy .. This kind or level of higher interest rates will slow the economy drastically .. defending the Lira but killing the Economy is NOT what needed for reforms… if you link this news to Assad meeting with the businessmen in Damascus..

You can see what is going on.. Assad MUST have asked them to support to his plan….. just asked them ~~~ No Shabiha~~
http://www.syriasteps.com/?d=110&id=67257&in_main_page=1

May 3rd, 2011, 2:21 pm

 

SANDRO LOEWE said:

One friend in Salamiyeh area explains to me:

¨Here are many protests in Syria now. There have been almost 800 deaths. I wonder where is going to take the country this dictator. I do not like this person as I did not like his father.

Last week I was in my city and I attended a rally of some 10.000 persons while syrian news told it was only 150 persons¨

This just a testimonial but it is one in 20 million. I believe that most rural areas and provincial towns are the same while in Damascus and Aleppo where richness concentrates it differs.

May 3rd, 2011, 2:36 pm

 
 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

The Syrian TV has been broadcasting for days images and interviews from Deraa showing that there is no such thing as food shortage. They showed people buying bread and other foodstuffs. They showed kids playing in the streets.

Yet the US department of state claims that Deraa is under ‘collective punishment.’ Where did they get this from? It is exactly what the terrorists in Deraa say. There is obviously coordination between the terrorists and the US government. This is the foreign conspiracy we are talking about.

May 3rd, 2011, 2:58 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

1) The economy news most probably indicate a deep shit. Especially the $120,000 decree. Won’t be surprised if, as we speak, there are urgent long distance phone calls (Damascus – Tehran) for an immediate loan, preferably in cash.

2) Clearly, Mark A. reads a lot of Machiavelli’s material. But Mark A. is a caricature of Machiavelli. Or a grotesque, really.

3) From reading the “in depth” investigations regarding the Fisk and Perry reports, a conclusion could be drawn: more than 600 Syrians committed suicide.
.

May 3rd, 2011, 3:07 pm

 

AIG said:

What matters in the economy is real interest rates, not absolute ones. So unless we know what happened to inflation in the last few weeks, nothing really can be said about the interest rate. If the Syrian government has been printing tons of Syrian pounds, then 3% may not be enough.

The $120,000 is a joke. Who is going to trust the government to allow the money to be taken out in one year? Basically the Assads have made it impossible to take money out of Syria.

May 3rd, 2011, 3:24 pm

 

Jad said:

Aljadeed TV is trying to do some work, hopefully people will open up to the media and become more realistic in what they say, it’s just the begining

May 3rd, 2011, 3:51 pm

 

Sophia said:

Mr. Nakhle’s statement that it is better to have a faceless opposition because the opposition does not want to talk to the regime is irresponsible and arrogant, not vis-à-vis the regime but vis-à-vis the Syrian people.

The task of any opposition is not only to talk to the rulers but also to the people.

An opposition that doesn’t want to talk to the regime would have to justify to the Syrian people why it doesn’t want to talk to the regime, convince, lay down a plan for an exit from the crisis and sketch the future of the country.

This opposition wants the people to follow by using propaganda, manipulation and destabilization, instead of rational dialogue with syrians. In fact it is doing the same things that it accuses the regime of doing.

And as long as this opposition is faceless, I would say that its only aim is negative, getting rid of Assad by destabilizing the country and weakening its economy.

There are many hidden assumptions in this stance: one of them is that the Syrian people are not ready for democracy. And this is what troubles me in this opposition.

May 3rd, 2011, 4:49 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

What is the use of the opposition to reveal themselves if immediately when they do so Assad will put them in jail? Do you really think they are idiots? Just today Assad rounded about 1000 activists, quite arbitrarily. Why do you think he will treat the opposition leaders fairly?

May 3rd, 2011, 4:55 pm

 

Sophia said:

AIG,

So you are telling me that the leaders of the current opposition are sending people to be killed in the protests and to be imprisoned while they, the leaders, do not dare to show up themselves?

Again, if they fear for their lives and freedoms they can always find a safe way to talk to the Syrian people. It is their duty. It is the duty of any opposition that pretends to offer its people a better future by way of either reform or radical change through revolution.

May 3rd, 2011, 5:01 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

No, the leaders are taking part in the demonstrations without identifying themselves as leaders. The leaders of the opposition do not fear for their lives. They fear that the opposition will come to a halt without leadership. That is why Assad wants to target the leaders. Why should they fall for his trap?

What is a safe way to talk to the people without identifying yourself? How would that kind of communication even be credible? Assad is ruthless and standing up to him is difficult. Let Assad allow free debate in Syria. What is he afraid of?

May 3rd, 2011, 5:18 pm

 

Sophia said:

AIG,

You write: ”No, the leaders are taking part in the demonstrations without identifying themselves as leaders. The leaders of the opposition do not fear for their lives. They fear that the opposition will come to a halt without leadership.”

How come they pretend that the regime is killing and imprisoning protesters, by the hundreds and thousands, and yet at the same time take part in the protests where they expose themselves to the risk ”that the opposition will come to a halt without leadership” as you write.

There are many contradictions in your argument.

I don’t think one can talk to the people ”without identifying” as you write. Dialogue of this sort needs identification. And I am not talking here of dialogue with the regime if you read me well, I am talking here of the opposition vis-à-vis the Syrian people and there are always safe ways to engage with the Syrian people, one of them are all those youtube videos that the opposition has been propagating, why they don’t use them for a rational discussion about their project for Syria instead of using them only to show the protests?

And if these leaders fear so much for their lives not because they are cowards but because they do not want the opposition to become leaderless, it means they cannot entrust the people to carry on with their project and aspirations for Syria, probably because their project and aspirations are not understood by the people whom they lead, for lack of real leadership and rational democratic discussion.

May 3rd, 2011, 5:44 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

Why does Assad have to remain leader for life? Does he not trust anyone else to lead Syria? Does no one else in Syria understand his project? And what “rational democratic discussion” did Assad have with the Syrians lately? Why is there no free speech in Syria? Why?

Risking oneself in a demonstration is one thing. Yes the risk is there, but it is much smaller than the certainty that if you identify yourself Assad will imprison you or worse.

The leaders of the opposition are pretending nothing. Is it they that are not allowing the free press to report? No, it is Assad. He can easily make sure that much better information is available. Why is he scared to do so?

Your whole argument is one big contradiction because it is the regime that is not allowing information flow, not the opposition. The opposition want the free press there. Assad does not. Therefore, it is Assad and his regime that are lying.

May 3rd, 2011, 5:56 pm

 

Aboud said:

@ 3 Atassi

Yes, Fisk is wrong, and I am right. I was on the phone all day to people in Telkelakh that day, and I know what happened. You are more than welcome to call anyone at all in Telkelakh and ask what happened. The country code for it is 00963314714xx

@ 8 Amir

I know you are a long time reader of this blog, so you know that I am no friend of the regime. If there was indeed a massacre there, then there would have been funerals. The pro-revolution Facebook pages have the name of every single person who has been killed (over 600), arrested (over 1800), and gone missing in the past 6 weeks. Please tell me the name of anyone who died in Telkelakh within that time.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:05 pm

 

Observer said:

The analysis of the ICG is actually right on the money.
The proposals of Mark have been bypassed by the events.
My appraisal is
1. Bashar is not in charge anymore
2. If he is involved and this is a big if then he is either on the margins or on board, either way it does not bode well for him and his family on the long run. His wife should be some sense into his head.
3. Any reforms that would be meaningful would mean the end of the clique that has expropriated Syria to its exclusive benefits
4. The financial measures that are being offered are clearly an indication that they are
a) Preparing for the hyperinflation that will happen if the SYP falls
b) Have hard currency in the banks to support their efforts as the money can be confiscated anytime for a period of one year
c) Increase the reserves as the money stacked away in foreign banks for their personal use may become unavailable; especially in Austria
d) Prepare for sanctions that are surely coming
5. It is clear that Egypt has outsmarted Syria at this time, they brought in the Palestinian factions together and hence the Hamas card in the hand of the Syrian regime is not so secure
6. If Hamas moves to Qatar then this is a blow as the Syrians have asked them to support their stance and they refused to be drawn into the maelstrom.
7. Turkey is also warning in the Libyan scenario how they will act with Syria. They already have written Ghadafi off but the speech of Erdogan was clearly meant for Bashar to hear. Turkey will return to Libya for business no matter how it is settled. It will not return to Syria.
8. If the regime manages to crush the opposition completely it would be a most futile tactical victory for it will leave the regime without any tools to handle the disastrous economic situation that will surely follow including rewarding the forces that kept them in power.
9. This time the regime resorted to a sectarian discourse from the very start and the next explosion will be so violent that I fear those communities that support the regime now may be wiped out completely.
10. The regime has taken the country to a mini civil war and there is no going back.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:13 pm

 

jad said:

Sophia,
I agree with you regarding the faceless opposition, it’s doing more harm than good to all Syrians, it’s sending people in the streets to be killed in the name of the unknown future with no plan, no goal and no alternative.

“And as long as this opposition is faceless, I would say that its only aim is negative, getting rid of Assad by destabilizing the country and weakening its economy.” Exactly!

May 3rd, 2011, 6:16 pm

 

Sophia said:

# 16 AIG,

I cannot answer some of your questions concerning the Baath regime and Al-Assad. I am not talking for them and I do not adhere to their style of government.

My concern is that one does not go into a revolution and loss of life to replace a dictatorship by another. If the opposition is truly committed to democracy then it must engage in dialogue with the Syrian people. The way this dialogue can be done is through reforms and flow of information as you said.

So you agree that reforms, like free press, and flow of true (I must add ‘true’) information are necessary for dialogue. And you would agree with me that this is a necessary condition to establish a culture of democracy in which leaders can trust the people and the people can trust their leaders.

So basically you just agree with my initial assumption that the opposition refusal to skip this step and to ask for the regime overthrow instead of asking for reforms that facilitate the implementation of democracy renders its motives dubious, to say the least.

And I am not talking here about what the regime does or does not, it has very limited impact on my argument. The goal of democracy and the way to achieve it is the responsibility of the opposition, because they are the one who claim democracy as their goal, not the regime, and it is the responsibility of the opposition to lay out the conditions to achieve these goals no matter how repressive the regime is.

And I think Alex’s argument at QikaNabki that we need three to five years is legitimate because it is the time period needed to lay out the foundations for a democratic country after having lived the initial shock and awe of democracy aspirations.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:20 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG

Do you seriously believe the government does not know who the leaders of the opposition are?
They know all of them and they can arrest them any time. So what’s the point of playing cat and mouse.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:23 pm

 

jad said:

تلفزيون الدنيا – اعترافات عضو مجموعة إرهابية بدرعا

May 3rd, 2011, 6:26 pm

 

AIG said:

Jad,

The future is clear, you just do not want to see it. First, democratic elections to elect a constitutional parliament. Then, elections based on the new constitution. Very similar to what is happening in Egypt. Why can’t this work in Syria? The Egyptian opposition did not have a detailed plan either.

The opposition does not claim to speak for everybody. Let a constitutional parliament be freely chosen and then through national dialog a plan for the future will emerge. The demand for the oppressed opposition that has no good statistics and no inside knowledge to come up with a detailed plan is ridiculous. What they are demanding are free elections after which a national plan will be formed.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:27 pm

 

trustquest said:

Introducing different Joshua Landis for American Public, he is more clear but not consistence with what we read on his blog:
Don’t you agree Akbar Palace…

Here he say it all: “Prof. LANDIS: The opposition is nationwide. Syrians have lived under this regime for 40 years. They’re fed up with the corruption. They’re fed up with the lack of freedoms. They want change. Many do not want to overthrow the system. They want to work through the reforms.”

here the full interview

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It’s MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Steve Inskeep, good morning.

The secretary-general of the United Nations wants an investigation of Syria. Ban Ki-moon is asking why the government used tanks and live ammunition against civilians.

It is hard to get answers out of Syria right now. The country is largely closed to Western reporters. We do know that there have been protests in some cities. And we also know something of the Syrian power structure. The Assad family has controlled Syria for decades. They belong to the Alawite religious sect, an offshoot of Shiia Islam.

Professor JOSHUA LANDIS (Director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma): What you have today in Syria as an odd political structure, where the hell Alawites dominate the presidency, the security forces, the intelligence units, and they’re only 12 percent of the population.

INSKEEP: Syria expert Joshua Landis lived in the country in the past, and explains how the inside family has maintained its rule.

Prof. LANDIS: It is based on the family links and sectarian links. Syria spent almost 20 years as – you know, some people call it a banana republic – but it was extremely unstable. There were coups during the ’50s and ’60s all the time. The Assad’s figured out a way to stabilize Syria and that was by using traditional loyalties. These people at the top, they believe that there’s going to be civil war if they’re overthrown. They believe that they are the secular leadership.

Now, the opposition denies all this and says this is complete bunkum. Syria has split into two parts today and they’re not talking to each other. They both, in a sense, live in different worlds and they see Syria with different realities. And that’s the problem, is there is extremely – Syria is very split.

INSKEEP: The split being the people who are in charge, the Alawite sect and the people around Assad, and everybody else.

Prof. LANDIS: Well, there’s a lot of Sunnis. The Sunni upper classes, although they are critical of the regime – they see its faults – they’re clinging to it because they fear civil war. They fear Iraq. And many people in Syria see Iraq as a model for what may become of Syria, because the opposition does not have a leadership.

The great strength of the opposition is that it does not have a leadership, because the regime has not been able to arrest the people or find them. This is a movement led by young activists who are in their 20’s and early 30s, who are not centralized and who come from every different walk of life in Syria.

That strength, though, is going to become a real weakness if the regime becomes destabilized.

INSKEEP: We have mainly heard, in recent days and weeks, about protests in the southern city of Daraa. There have been rumors or reports of protests in other places but not nearly as large.

Do you have any sense of whether the opposition to Assad is nationwide?

Prof. LANDIS: The opposition is nationwide. Syrians have lived under this regime for 40 years. They’re fed up with the corruption. They’re fed up with the lack of freedoms. They want change. Many do not want to overthrow the system. They want to work through the reforms.

We have seen, in Damascus and Aleppo, the two major cities of Syria, people have not come out on the streets in big numbers. Demonstrations have started in the suburbs of the cities, the poorer suburbs, but they have not reached the center of the cities. That has to happen for this movement to really overthrow the regime.

INSKEEP: Why hasn’t it happened?

Mr. LANDIS: Because they’re frightened. The sort of middle-class, the stolid, conservative middle-class and upper middle classes, don’t want the civil war.

INSKEEP: It’s interesting when you say that people are frightened, you didn’t say that they were frightened first of Assad and his security forces, although I’m sure the people are. But that their greatest fear was what comes after Assad.

Mr. LANDIS: Yes. I mean there are a million Iraqi refugees in Syria. Three hundred thousand of them are Christians. Ten percent of Syria, six to 10 percent of Syria is Christian. The Christians have worked themselves into a lather of anxiety about the prospect of being ethnically cleansed if the state collapses. They’re clinging to this regime. Other minorities are doing the same.

This, increasingly as it moves on, although the slogans of the opposition are: unity, freedom, democracy, there is a boiling sectarian tension underneath it that has people very frightened.

INSKEEP: Joshua Landis lived for years in Syria. He is director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:35 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

Bashar Assad had 11 years to allow freedom of speech. He is in power 11 years!!! Kilo and many others are asking for free speech for 11 years!!! What do you mean the opposition has not asked for reforms and free speech? It has been asking for 11 years!!! The opposition has not skipped ANY stage. It has been waiting patiently for 11 years!!!

What the opposition want is free elections so that it will become clear what the Syrian people really want. Why is there need to explain more? This is the idea behind democracy. Let the representatives of the people decide.

And what do you mean that the regime does not claim democracy as their goal? If that is the case, why should they be given any chance to reform??? The repressiveness and ruthlessness of the regime is exactly the problem. It is strangling free speech and debate. How can you lay the blame at the feet of the opposition and say it does not matter what the regime does?

You want 3-5 years? Why? Please give a detailed plan how you would lay the foundations for democracy in 5 years. Why should people listen to you if you have no plan and you claim the regime does not want democracy? Plus, Assad had 11 (!!!) years already.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

AIG said:

Why-Discuss,

If they know who the leaders are, why are they arresting 1000 people arbitrarily? Sure looks like a fishing expedition to me.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:40 pm

 

jad said:

Those mentioned in the video are criminals, no protesters, they deserve the capital punishment.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:40 pm

 

Sophia said:

# 25 AIG,

You are misrepresenting what I wrote. I never said that the opposition never asked for free speech and reforms. I am also talking about the current opposition who doesn’t want to talk to the people. And you answer me by citing Kilo who is from another brand of opposition.

What I am saying is that now that there is momentum for true democratic reform, the current opposition, who refuses to engage with the Syrian people and want only to overthrow the regime, has the responsibility to work toward setting the conditions for the implementation of reforms by engaging with the Syrian people. Bashar has been slow on reforms, true. But then there was no true momentum against him. Now there is.

It troubles me that when it serves your argument, you mention this other brand of opposition which is not faceless and which worked tirelessly and courageously toward reforms and freedom of speech and it doesn’t bother you to mention Michel Kilo as one of the leaders of the current opposition that want to overthrow the regime.

There are two misstatements and one big contradiction here. I already mentioned the contradiction which is you mentioning Kilo as a face for the faceless opposition. As for the misstatements they are that the current opposition that is sending people to the protests already engaged in reforms and that Kilo wants to overthrow the regime: to my knowledge, Kilo had the courage of his convictions when he wanted to force reforms on the regime, and, as of late, he is suspicious of the current opposition.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:51 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

Why is there momentum now against Assad? Because of what the “new” opposition is doing. They are succeeding where Kilo failed because they cannot be intimidated because their face is unknown. But the fact is, the opposition is one. Only both methods together succeeded in maybe getting Assad to budge.

What is contradictory is your demand the “new” opposition show its face so Assad can imprison them or worse. That would be a really stupid move. Instead, let Kilo and others speak freely. Why does Assad not allow that? The opposition are not stupid. They just do not believe Assad will reform. Their demand is also very simple and every person that wants to, understands what it is: Freely choose a constitutional parliament. There is no need for communications that will endanger the progress achieved by the combined opposition so far.

I am still waiting for your detailed plan how Syrians will be ready in 3-5 years for democracy. What is the plan? How can you criticize others for not having a plan when you certainly don’t have one? You should be demanding a plan from the regime. Well are you?

May 3rd, 2011, 7:51 pm

 

Sophia said:

#29 AIG,

I am not demanding anything from anyone. I am just saying that if the opposition is serious about democracy then it must find a way to engage with the Syrian people in order to set up the conditions for true democracy. For this to be achieved, the opposition needs a face and a comprehensive program to offer to the Syrian people to make them participate in the democratic process. It is not my responsibility to lay out such a program.

If you are telling me that the opposition is one, some have faces and some are in the hiding, then you must accept the following:

1. The fact that those who are known as opposition figures now in Syria like Michel Kilo speak for the people who are in the protests,
2. That, because of 1., this opposition is not faceless.

But you are contradicting yourself because you keep saying that the opposition must stay faceless.

Now if you want my real opinion about the Syrian opposition I will give it to you: it lacks support from the majority. This doesn’t mean that if the opposition engages in dialogue, it will not achieve a majority, on the contrary. But right now, the opposition that refuses dialogue with the people, refuses at the same time to attain this majority by peaceful means. It wants to force itself on the people.

The current opposition is either westernized and external to Syria, or local and intellectual, or poor and radicalized, not to mention the external elements financed by Hariri and Co. So there is more than one opposition right now. A responsible uprising would want to achieve larger support and unity reaching to all strata of the Syrian society, and for this it needs to engage people in a discussion about reforms and democracy in a peaceful manner, not by merely calling for an overthrow of the regime.

May 3rd, 2011, 8:15 pm

 

majedkhaldoon said:

You do not need leaders from the begining of the revolution,the regime is not ready for dialogue,they only know the oppression to deal with the people demands, you do not talk to the murderers and oppressor,bashar and his gangs are arresting and torturing those that they did not kill,once their atrocities are known to the world, and this is going to be known soon, he will go.freedom will prevail.

May 3rd, 2011, 8:21 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

Some of the opposition must remain faceless so that it is not killed or put in prison. It is quite simple.

You want the opposition to talk freely to the Syrian people? How can they do that if Assad does not allow it? Can you please explain? Assad refuses to allow free speech, so how can the fact there is no national dialog the fault of the opposition???

You said that only in 3-5 years Syria will be ready for democracy. So what is the plan for that? Why are you not demanding that from the regime? The regime has already forced itself on the people, so how is it not worse than the opposition that demands free elections?

May 3rd, 2011, 8:35 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG

They are not arresting the ‘real opposition’ that they know very well. They are arresting the violent instigators that want only to overthrow the government and wants the head of Bashar al Assad and don’t give a damn about the reforms. These people have failed to rally the people and the army against Bashar Al Assad and therefore they have lost the battle. They are out of the game…

For once, the government offers a dialog to the ‘real’ opposition who have a brain. If these wants to go on hiding by fear or by the hopes that the battle will start again, they are making a big mistake and would bear the responsibility of the economical hardship the country will go through. A stagnation of the situation would trigger an increase of sanctions and the further isolation of Syria.

If they afraid to talk openly why don’t they use YOUTUBE or this is only to show violence!

If you accept that the majority of the Syrians want Bashar Al Assad to stay, then they have to trust him, despite his entourage, for the sake of their country.

May 3rd, 2011, 8:54 pm

 

AMMAr said:

salute to SOURI333 always asks the right questions .

May 3rd, 2011, 8:55 pm

 

Sophia said:

# 32 AIG,

You do not understand logical contradictions: You cannot want at the same time to have a faceless opposition while agreeing that 1) the opposition is one and 2) some of the opposition are known like Kilo.

As for the fact that Assad will not allow the opposition to talk freely to the Syrian people, it is a fact that there is no free press in Syria but why not take this goal as the first goal of the opposition, a necessary one to engage with the people. If the opposition want to embody freedom and democracy then it must espouse the values of freedom and democracy as its goals and fight for them. Fighting for the overthrow of the regime is not per se a democratic goal. But by espousing the values of freedom and democracy and fighting for them the opposition can embody those values and in the process rally around those values the larger public. These are concrete goals and values. If one has to fight this regime anyway so why not fight for proximal and concrete goals that can rally the larger population?

You keep asking me for a plan, I am not an opposition figure, I am an external observer. It is the responsibility of the opposition toward the Syrian people to lay out a plan but I think that 3-5 years is a reasonable period of time to implement reforms and rally around these reforms if and only if the opposition is serious about these reforms and will be pressing them on the regime and rallying people around them.

But it seems to me that the current opposition want the overthrow of the regime without rallying the majority of Syrians from all strata of society and this is a recipe for disaster and not reforms given the specificity of the Syrian society. An overthrow of the regime will undoubtedly provoke a rush for power grab and sectarian strife as in Iraq.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:06 pm

 

AIG said:

Why-Discuss,

If the regime is sincere about dialog, let there be a free discussion between Kilo and any regime representative on state TV. I am sure Kilo would agree. Why doesn’t the regime do that if they are really sincere about dialog?

Please explain why the opposition that is responsible for Syria’s problems when the regime has all the power? Let the regime show that it is sincere. They cancel the emergency law and then continue acting as if it is in place. They promise reform but delivered nothing. Yet you blame the opposition. Assad needs to act to prove he is sincere. They are really oferring dialog? Very well, start the dialog with Kilo. What are they waiting for?

May 3rd, 2011, 9:13 pm

 

AIG said:

Sophia,

I keep saying that some of the opposition needs to stay faceless. There is no contradiction there.

Just to be clear, before I answer the rest of your points, are you demanding that Assad give free speech to the Syrian people? Do you support giving free speech to the Syrian people? Do you think Assad should have done this long ago?

May 3rd, 2011, 9:20 pm

 

Nafdik said:

Jad,

If it was revealed that the president ordered peaceful protesters to be shot or knew they were beeing shot and did nothing to prevent it, would you support capital punishement?

May 3rd, 2011, 9:24 pm

 

why-discuss said:

The emergency law cancellation was totally ignored by the protesters as the next day they called for more protests and encouraged ‘illegal’ demonstrations. They did not give it any chance, for me it meant that whatever political reforms Bashar would have announced, they would have ignored as their aim was the escalation of violence to overthrow the government: “a coup d’etat”. It failed totally because they could not rally the people and the only organized power, the army.
In fact the army did exactly the opposite, it helped the government crush the “coup d’etat” using the only means the rebels understand : display of force and unity.
In Egypt the army was first neutral, then with the opposition. In Libya it splitted and this created a civil war where we don’t talk about 500 death, but much more and destructions.

Now we are in the aftermath of the failed ‘coup d’etat’ and it should be the time for the ‘constructive’ opposition to play a role. Yet, I am not sure Kilo or any intellectuals would dare start a dialog with the government even they are invited to do so. They could be easily accused of treason by the hardliners who could eliminate them (and accuse the government)
The violent hardliners have to be neutralized before we can see the real opposition appear.
This will take a while, but it may happen.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:42 pm

 

Sophia said:

#36 AIG,

I think we have to give other people the opportunity to discuss and present their views on this blog. So this is my last comment.

I assume that if you want some in the opposition must stay faceless then you admit also that those who are known represent actually the opposition that is sending people to the protests, which is not the case…

If you are in the opposition, you do not ask Assad to give you free speech, you put pressure on the regime to engage in real reforms including free speech. Right now the current opposition is putting pressure on the regime to go but Syrians don’t know when they will have free speech and they are not sure of they can believe you about free speech because you are not fighting for it right now.

I am not sure what do you mean by free speech, if you mean that the Syrian people can express their opinions on issues pertaining to their lives, economy, politics, and so on, be heard, and engage in dialogue with the rest of society about their opinions, yes I do think that this kind of free speech is a prerequisite for democracy. Building democracy takes time and education.

Last, do I think that Bashar Al-Assad should have given free speech long time ago to the Syrian people? Yes. But this kind of process must engage all strata of civil society and also political players in a respectful attitude. And it takes two to dance. Rulers, even in free countries, are not inclined to give liberties more than what is asked for, so if Assad has to give then one must ask and ask forcefully by rallying the majority of Syrians around. I am not sure what the current opposition is asking for. If they are asking for his overthrow, then he cannot give. It is as simple as that.

I am leaving the place here for other people to express their opinions. I took too much place here tonight.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:44 pm

 

jad said:

Nafdik,
Are you defending criminals now? I thought you were pro democracy not pro crimes.
This criminal I post the video of is using everybody’s cause to commit his hideous crimes against other Syrians for no reason.
Do you want him to represent you? Go ahead, enjoy your new Syria you want this thug to be representative of.
This thug’s gang did ask the police men to go out the police station to burn it and the police men peacefully went out, why to kill them in this savage way? To slaughter them with a knife like abou mousaab? they killed useless police men brutally in cold blood. I honestly wished that you did defend someone worth to defend other than this guy.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:49 pm

 

Nafdik said:

Jad, you know very well that i am against ALL criminals. I was surprised you dodged the question.

Sophia, why do you say that if the majority of syrians ask for assad overthrow then he can not give. Politicians resign all the time. Why does he want to govern a country where people would rather die than be governed by him?

May 3rd, 2011, 9:55 pm

 

AIG said:

Why-Discuss,

There are many things the regime could do to prove they were sincere, they did nothing. For example they could have released a few political prisoners.

How do you know Kilo is afraid to dialog with the regime??? Let the regime suggest this to him and let him decline.

Sophia,

The more I read what you write, the less I understand you. You seem to think that the onus is on the opposition to prove something when it is the Assad regime that is the ruthless oppressor. You make many demands of the opposition, but none from the regime. Your position does not make sense.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:05 pm

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Thousand in Halab,at the university,demonstrating calling to remove seige on Deraa,

May 3rd, 2011, 10:08 pm

 

abughassan said:

things may actually be starting to take shape now. the regime is not going to fall, that is a fact, thanks in part to those who refused to be taken by emotions,but syria as we knew it is gone forever. syrians have a rare opportunity to learn from Egypt, Libya and iraq and change their country the “syrian way”.
I do not see how Albaath and the current alliance (security forces and rich merchants) can keep their privileges and power. a new system is badly needed where the average syrian feels the power of his vote and does not fear going to jail for opening his mouth. our friends who ignore the violent acts committed by both sides are not objective, and those who want syria to become like switzerland overnight are naive. I am more hopeful today than 2 weeks ago. The lip service of France and other “freedom lovers” countries mean very little. this is a syrian problem and we have to solve it.

May 3rd, 2011, 11:37 pm

 

Mina said:

AIG (Another Israeli Guy)
What do you think of the situation in Bahrain?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13267040

May 3rd, 2011, 11:51 pm

 

why-discuss said:

MajedAlkaldoon

Actually french newspaper Le Monde reported a demonstration in Banyas on the 3rd may. Yet Al Jazeera did not. I wonder why. Maybe most of Al Jazeera Blog was reported by Dorothy Parvaz who is missing, or is there any other reason why Al Jazeera would stop its reporting on Syria’s unrest

May 3rd, 2011, 11:58 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Majedalkhadoon

3,000 in a demonstration in Banyas in support of Deraa.
No violence reported.
This was reported by Le Monde on tuesday but Al Jazeera did not report any demonstrations in Syria. Curious?

“alors que plus de trois mille personnes manifestaient à Banias pour réclamer la levée du siège de cette ville du nord-ouest de la Syrie et celui de Deraa, dans le Sud.

May 4th, 2011, 12:04 am

 
 

jad said:

شبكة أخبار حلب A.N.N
ماجرى بالمدينة الجامعية حلب: اثناء مشاهدة المباراة خرج عدد من الطلاب يهتفون لدرعا وفي المقابل خرج شباب المدينة (ساولهن اللازم)وسيطرت لجان حفظ النظام على الموضوع بمساعدة الشرطة والأمن ولاتوجد أخبار عن أي اصابات الى الآن……..سوريا …الله ..حاميهااا ….”نازك”

والله العظيم ياشباب ما بيطلعو اكتر من 250 شخص وكلون مالون من حلب وانا شفت القصة من اول دقيقة ولك بيقولو سلمية لك وقف الامن ما عملون شي قام كسرو باب الجامعة الخارجي (حديد) محاولة منون يطبو فوق الامن قام الامن فرقون والبنات بالوحدات السكنية عم تصيح الله سوريا بشار وبس فقامو بزت الحجار على الوحدات وعلى الامن قال سلمية قال

May 4th, 2011, 12:21 am

 

William Scott Scherk said:

It seems that reality has receded into the mists for some folk in the comments. Is there really any hope for a peaceful exit to the crisis when one ‘side’ sees the other side as unworthy? I hope against hope that those who seem implacably opposed to The Other can find a common path.

One thing that gives me more hope is that many of the seemingly demented commenters are far far from Syria, and far far from any influence on events.

I surmise that I am wrong, mostly wrong, but it seems that some folks here who live in the West have accepted that democracy is foreign and beyond the abilities of Syrians — they live (as with the Canadian Syrians) under rule of law, with their freedoms defended by law, and buttressed by a cultural landscape that would sacrifice for the freedom and the law, but they would deny to fellow Syrians in Syria the very freedoms they live fully in their new homes.

I just do not understand this. How can a Syrian-Canadian look back at Syria and see a monstrous tide of Salafi/jihadi/Brethren/conspirator/infiltrator/mob? I just cannot grasp this lack of humanity — to live under a free regime and yet not have compassion and fellow-feeling for countrymen and countrywomen under siege by a military dictatorship.

A most revealing post at Gay Girl in Damascus. I would truly like to see the most implacable folk here explain to me what this means:

http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com/2011/05/humor-sort-of.html

— I was sadly amused by the Christian Scientist report excerpted above: the notion that the government has no one to talk to. The government talks to Erdogan to let him know what is happening, to Gul, to the UAE delegates, to the Turkish MIT minister. But the government will not talk to the people.

Where is the Syrian President? Does he have nothing to say to Syria?

May 4th, 2011, 12:29 am

 

Mina said:

#47
Don’t you remember the 500 deaths after the protests in Uzbekistan? Not a word and a visit of Condolezza Rice in support of the government.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4652635

Al Assad is simply doing the dirty job of cleaning the country from illegal weapons on behalf of the West, to facilitate the expected peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

And Belarus? Where the president jailed whoever had dared running against him in the election since last december? (they are now on trial)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/its-no-surprise-how-belaruss-lukashenko-really-feels-about-democracy/2011/04/21/AFFsXTzE_blog.html

May 4th, 2011, 12:50 am

 

democracynow said:

Jad,

Your source claims those who protested at the Aleppo uni dorms are merely 250 and that they were overrun by supporters of regime. The following videos clearly shows that your source is spouting BS… check them out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0kiqK4b_yQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPHpVljKd0E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHAIleZu_SI

There are more than 1000 people here. The protest took place yesterday evening and went on for two hours according to eye witnesses. And they were clearly chanting for breaking the siege on Daraa. (I hope empathic chants aren’t considered foreign plot too?)

Also, this line caught my eyes:

والله العظيم ياشباب ما بيطلعو اكتر من 250 شخص وكلون مالون من حلب

Translation: “I swear to God guys they were less than 250 and all of them aren’t from Aleppo”

All of them aren’t from Aleppo? Great! They’re all aliens and the the people of Aleppo are still the saints we know them to be!

It’s telling how regime propaganda units (like this A.N.N.) are expressing divisive sentiments and differentiating between the sons and daughters of the same nation “look! they’re not from Aleppo!”, while the protesters are religiously calling for unity and expressing solidarity with other Syrian cities: “One, one, one. The Syrian people are one.”

May 4th, 2011, 1:16 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

The Aleppo demonstration took place in the dormitory of Aleppo University. Students from Aleppo do not stay in the dormitory (because they have homes in Aleppo). The demonstration had nobody from Aleppo.

As for the arrests, the government does not care about the few anti-government teenagers who demonstrate in the streets. Such people are usually arrested for one or two days and then they are released. The government only keeps the Wahhabis. The security forces can tell who is Wahhabi and who is not by searching their houses and looking for evidence (among other things). If they believe the suspect is Wahhabi (Salafi), they keep him. If they believe he is just a teenager who does not like the government, they scare him a little bit and then they let him go. This is what is happening in Syria.

May 4th, 2011, 4:06 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

No lowering of mazout prices:

http://www.alwatan.sy/dindex.php?idn=100614

This is an indication that the government will not revert to old faliure policies under popular pressure.

May 4th, 2011, 4:31 am

 

Mina said:

Distorsion of facts:
http://tinyurl.com/3ueunmw

described this way by someone from the team of the Twitter-Wannabes-US/UK based-revolutionaries:

ProfKahf Mohja Kahf
Aleppo University student rally is now being estimated at 5,000, and tear gas is being used on them now #Syria

What is clear in the strategy and which explains the protests have moved from a place to another is that the people pulling the threads badly need “an event a day” to keep their dynamics with the media, and they pressure on anyone they know locally to arrange for any small group to shout something. That is why we end up with lots of videos taken at night or filmed at very close range to disguise the fact there is no more than fifty people here.

I agree that this is rather a 1968 type of revolt (added to the increase in food prices due to the global recession) rather than a political movement. I still hope this youth starts to use the internet to develop ideas and a political and economic program.

May 4th, 2011, 5:05 am

 

Solitarius said:

to democracynow

Those demonstraters are more than a 1000? You’ve got to be kidding. They are a maximum of 300. And knowing the Syrian people probably half of them are curious kids.

May 4th, 2011, 5:39 am

 

Mina said:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ME05Ak01.html
Iran’s view on the changing Middle East.

May 4th, 2011, 5:40 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Sarkozy is boasting in an interview today that his policy on Syria made Assad open an embassy in Lebanon.

If Sarkozy imposes economic sanctions on Syria, one of the first Syrian responses must be to close the Syrian embassy in Lebanon and withdraw the whole diplomatic mission. This is a very simple step that will save us money and deprive this jackass from the accomplishment he is boasting about. There are many other responses that I can think of in Lebanon and in Iraq.

May 4th, 2011, 7:30 am

 

qunfuz said:

According to Syriacomment, Fisk is wrong because a comment in the comment section says so. Thanks for your professionalism. If everything in Tell Kalakh is so wonderful, why are there hundreds of refugees in Lebamnon?

Syriacomment also tells us that Jazeera says there were no demonstrations yesterday. How surprising that Syriacomment saw fit not to update this. Yesterday there were demonstrations in Aleppo, Homs, Rastan, Qamishli, Amouda, Banyas, Hama and Tell.

How surprising that Syriacomment is not posting or even noticing the daily massacres happening in different parts of Syria.

Syriacomment people rub their hands with complacent glee and tell us that the protesting crowds are not so big, it’s only thousands, not hundreds of thousands. These thousands are facing death, torture and now three-years imprisonment. I cannot believe their courage. It fills me with pride. I would like to see the propagandists here dare to demonstrate (for their beloved mass murderers) if they faced such danger.

I think Syriacomment should post this excellent article (but then I have been taking Jazeera pills, and listening to Salafi-Israeli propaganda, and I deserve to die because I’m primitive, and because I once shook hands with a Sunni shaikh).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/28/syria-media-sectarian-plot

You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

May 4th, 2011, 8:12 am

 

qunfuz said:

Solitarius tells us that the article above is naive. Then he tells us that half the protestors (facing death) are curious kids.

Can’t you do better than that? Are you on the payroll, or are you just a sad character with no intelligence, no dignity and no self-worth?

What shocks me most of all with you people is the enormous contempt you have for the Syrian people. History will remember the appalling position yoiu are taking now, as innocent blood flows.

May 4th, 2011, 8:15 am

 

Aboud said:

@ 56 Qunfuz

I’m getting fed up of repeating myself. I’m on the phone to people in Telkelakh every single day. I know exactly what’s going on. Where are you talking from?

Yes, a large number of the inhabitants have moved outside the village until tensions die down, that’s not surprising and I’d have done the same.

Some people will believe only what they want to believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I’ve seen it in abundance from both sides on this blog.

Qunfuz, can you read Arabic? Then go to the Facebook pages of the dozen pro-revolution pages there, and kindly tell me the name of one person who died in Telkelakh these past six weeks.

Fisk’s reporting was lousy, incompetent and just plain irresponsible. Anyone can call up a random number in Telkelakh and ask what’s going on there. Once again, here is the dialing code for it 009633147104xx or 009633147114xx

May 4th, 2011, 8:29 am

 

Mina said:

Qunfuz,

Syria, Lebanon, Iraq will not get into real democracy until they go MORE secular. There is far too much power in the hands of the religious leaders, and this is something denied by Ammar Abdulhamid in his interview posted on this website 10 days ago (and pointing to some neocon threads).
The nizam that has to fall is that of the theologians sucking the brains of people with rumours and apocalyptic tales. It’s not new, there is a long history of that.
Why do you think that Turkey, Israel, or Malaysia (to quote a few of the “exemplary democracies”) often mentioned by the pro-demos went for a 100 % nationalism instead, as the sole state religion?

May 4th, 2011, 8:46 am

 

qunfuz said:

who do you write for, Aboud? Are you a known journalist? What’s your real name? Why should I take you as an authority? For all I know, you’re right on Tell Kalakh (although your ridiculous langauge about ‘back to normal’ suggests you are yet another regime propagandist). My point is that ‘aboud from the comments says Fisk is wrong’ is not satisfactory proof. Neither is ‘I iknow exactly what’s going on.’

Yes, I do read Arabic.

I’m getting sick of repeating myself too. There is no point arguing with people who deny that the regime is committing atrocities, or who pretend the uprising is a foreign plot. The sad thing is that many non-syrians read this blog. For those people, I ask you to read widely and not rely only on this site, which has chosen its side and is only reporting what it chooses to.

May 4th, 2011, 8:48 am

 

Solitarius said:

Qunfuz

Perhaps you yourself could so better than calling me name. Sorry that I insulted your link. I didn’t know you were so attached. If you ever have the time please address my concerns about that article. I will summarize

1) She is writing for a western audience, a run down for the basis of sectarian claims in Syrian society is warranted. She needs to explain the source of the lack of trust amongst Alawites and Christians (namely previous life style and social conditions of Alawites and why exactly were they like that. For Christians, religious intimidation, daily life, current constitution, 1860s. etc)

2) She needs to explain the status of sectarian tension/ the fault lines/ incidents BEFORE the events

3) She needs to explain the status of the current events and incidents, giving equal space and attention to both sides of the stories.

4) then she needs to let the readers decide. Not just force feed them the idea that this whole sectarian concept was imported from Mars by the Syrian regime.

May 4th, 2011, 8:55 am

 

anonymous said:

Ha! Ha! Ha! No opposition leaders to talk to? Dudes, pay a visit to Adra prison, that’s where they are!

May 4th, 2011, 8:58 am

 

qunfuz said:

once again, those ridiculous hypocrites accusing the international media of misreporting what’s happening in syria. THE MEDIA IS NOT ALLOWED IN. Aboud would not have to keep repeating himself if the worlsd media could go to Tell Kallakh and Daraa and Banyas and Homs and see for themselves. Are you all aware of how ridiculous you sound? Blaming the media when jouranlists are kidnapped by the Syrian regime is absurd. You sound like Stalinist propagandaists, half a century out of date.

May 4th, 2011, 9:00 am

 

qunfuz said:

Solitarius – she doesn’t need to do any of those things because she is writing a newspaper article, not an essay. Of course she lets the readers decide. She a writer, not a murderer. Do you think the Syrian regime is letting the people decide?

Interesting how you refer to 1860. That’s more impressive than 1980, which is where most pro-regime propagandists think we are. Today it’s 2011.

An Alawi friend who I sent that article has just called me to say how excellent it is. He’s sending it on to his friends.

You don’t insult my link, you insult the Syrian people, and the future of Syria.

May 4th, 2011, 9:04 am

 

Solitarius said:

Someone just called that woman and said.. “hey.. jot something down about the syrian regime’s plot to create sectarian tension.. this is starting to get on the news lately”

She doesn’t even mention the slogans that some of those protesters have been chanting.. No to Iran and to Hezbollah, we want a Muslism that fears God.. Christians to Beirut, Alawis to the grave.. Our constitution is the Quran (early days in Homs)..

The regime doesn’t need to warn the Alawis of the attacks on their neighborhoods.. there WERE already attacks in Homs. For God’s sake man.. I understand your beautiful view of the world and that everything should be reported ideally through professional news channels and via respected journalists.. but not everything will make it. The Syrian regime has sent clear and direct orders to the Alawis of Homs NOT TO GO OUT and face the attacking Bedouins on their neighborhood.. NOT TO RETALIATE for the crimes against the Alawis that already happened. The hate crimes that involved bodily mutilation by carving out a tattooed ‘Ya ali’ On Nidal Jannoud’s army.. the killing of the army general (he is in some unrelated marginal department that i forgot now so it wasnt directed at his person but rather at his religion), AND the killing and mutilation of his two sons and a nephew.. and THEN.. a shooting drive by at his funeral by the same bedouin thugs! Homsis now know who these thugs are.. who their bosses are.

Stop talking about sh*t you know nothing off.. w sallemli 3ala rfee2ak w rf2ato

May 4th, 2011, 9:27 am

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

MINA,

It’s not for you to decide who has “too much power” or who hasn’t. It’s for the people of Syria to decide. If you say it this way, it shows that you look down on Syrians. In your eyes, they are childish, naive, immature and so they need your protection. I call this patronizing. If you have fears (MB paranoia) take counseling.

About Bahrain, same logic. Bahrainies deserve what I have. They should be asked, not dictated. If they choose democratically to be an Iranian satellite, then so be it. I’m ready to take this chance.
Democracies tend to be more rational and way less dangerous than dictatorships. So I’m ready to take risks.
.

May 4th, 2011, 9:29 am

 

Revlon said:

More than 200 bodies have been brought to Teshreen Hospital from dar3a. Many are for women and children.
48 minutes ago
حركة سوريا شباب من أجل الحرية Youth Syria For Freedom
خبر خطير للغايه نقلا عن الأخت الفاضله هلا قضماني ||
جرى إخلاء درعا من الجثث الملقاة في الشوارع كما أخلى وادي حوى (وادي الزيدي الذي يفصل بين درعا البلد ودرعا المحطة) من
الجثث ومعظمهم من النساء والشابات والأطفال حيث هربوا إليه لينجوا من القصف فقاموا بإبادتهم إبادة جماعية ونقل معظمهم إلى مشفى تشرين العسكري وصل حتى عصر اليوم أكثر من مئتي جثة
..

May 4th, 2011, 9:31 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

It seems that Assad’s political reforms are going to be cosmetic:

http://www.al-binaa.com/newversion/article.php?articleId=31212

وفي سياق التطورات الداخلية السورية، أفادت معلومات «البناء»، أن الرئيس بشار الأسد سيعلن تعديل المادة 8 من الدستور السوري التي تحصر قيادة الدولة بحزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي، لتشمل كل الأحزاب المنضوية في الجبهة الوطنية التقدمية، وفتح هذه الجبهة أمام أحزاب جديدة للانتساب والمشاركة في قيادة البلاد. لكن المعلومات شددت على تمسك كل القوى الأساسية وفي مقدمتها الرئيس الأسد بعدم السماح بقيام الأحزاب الدينية في سورية، والحفاظ على البند الدستوري الذي يوجب على كل القوى والأحزاب أن تكون علمانية، منعاً لاستغلال الدين وتوظيفه في اللعبة السياسية وضرب نسيج الوحدة الوطنية السورية.

Assad is clinging to the “National Progressive Front.” I don’t know what the purpose of this front would be after article 8 is modified. Why does not he just abolish the front and let the parties compete?

Assad has already expressed his view that Syria is not ready for democracy. It does not look that he will allow a true multiple party rule.

May 4th, 2011, 9:32 am

 

N.Z. said:

Syrian protesters have every right to protest, labelling them by any other name is self-degrading.

Assad & Co. are not interested in moving the country forward.
They are interested in cosmetic changes only.

Their years are numbered, stability by suppressing the masses is from a bygone era. The more people they arrest and massacre the faster their fall becomes.

If there is blood on the streets of Syria it is because of the regime armed personnel.

Syrians are tired from protecting Bashar, it is his turn to protect us.

The unrest in Syria, exposed the regime internally, but more importantly, externally/internationally.

Ignoring the facts and apologizing for 40 years by keeping a country stagnant is akin to self hatred.

Self sufficiency = self preservation.

Autocratic regimes in the Arab world are identical, ordained and self serving.

May 4th, 2011, 9:43 am

 

Solitarius said:

I don’t see him making huge concessions now especially that Europeans want to sanction him. It’s definitely cosmetic. Hopefully more will follow if they are wise enough to allow for more freedom of press and for the opposition to speak up freely. When this mess is over they will have no reason to ban civilized peaceful protests if applied properly

Good article on Latakia and current sectarianism:

http://assafir.com/Article.aspx?EditionId=1837&articleId=242&ChannelId=43231&Author=%D8%BA%D8%AF%D9%8A%20%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B3

May 4th, 2011, 9:49 am

 

majedkhaldoon said:

Syria is a big prison,Bashar and Maher are the wardin,,there will be large demonstrations in Syria this comming friday,and yes Damascus will join.Turkey is the most important country in the Middlle East,and will play a major role in Syria.
Congratulation to the Palastineans,they are united more, Syrian regime was not mentioned once,Egypt was mentioned, Egypt is gradually comming back to the front again, this would not happened with Mubarak in power,this is a proof that dictators are the main obstacle in helping Palastine,and when they go,The Arab will unite.

May 4th, 2011, 9:53 am

 

Shami said:

Souri333,better for bashar to die like a pig…where would those menhebak people going to be once they lose their super habeeb ?
But i fear that menhebak people will deny their previous love when the road turns.They must serve as an exemple of corrupted soul for the next generations.

May 4th, 2011, 9:59 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Assad’s big fear is Islamism. He will never start a political process that he knows will eventually lead to sectarian strife. It is true that most Muslims in Syria are not politicized, but once a political process starts most Muslims will become politicized quickly and they will support an Islamist state. This is very natural in a country where most people are either illiterate or barely literate.

Assad said before that he won’t start serious political reform until the education level improves, and to improve education you need to improve the economy. Assad said that he wanted to reform the economy and state institutions before he starts serious political reform. There is no point in starting a political process that would lead only to sectarian chaos and instability. Assad said that our ultimate goal is to develop the country, not anything else. Political reform at this stage will not help develop the country, it will rather destroy it. He is 100% right.

Assad has started a massive process of economic and administrative reform. This is what we need now. We don’t need a political process that would allow foreign powers (the US and Turkey) and sectarianists to take over the country and destroy it like they did in Iraq (and before that in Lebanon and Palestine).

There is so much to do before we start transforming to a democracy. Of course, the enemies won’t like that because it does not serve their interests.

May 4th, 2011, 10:11 am

 

why-discuss said:

Qunfuz

Please can you stop treating everybody who does not agree with you as “stalinists”,”ridiculous” “hypocrites”, “propagandists” because your arguments did not convince them. Your anger makes you repetitive and less effective

May 4th, 2011, 10:15 am

 

Revlon said:

Witness from security forces says; Snipers of the republican Guards (4th brigades) have orders to aim at the head to kill.

Listen to his account of a briefing, prior to attacking demonstrators in Barzeh, Damascus on April 29th.

http://observers.france24.com/fr/content/20110503-snipers-ordre-viser-tete-manifestants-armee-syrie-damas-barzeh

May 4th, 2011, 10:18 am

 

Jad said:

The lovely sectarin language of the freedom ‘uprising’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WClB6IhD3gU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

(Zouher Alsdiq, is saying that we will bombard and kill every Alawit village in Syria!)

Anybody to defend ZouZou!

I thought using ‘pig’ description is the signature of salafis when they talk about Jews, I guess it evolve to include the president now.

May 4th, 2011, 10:18 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

What we need now is more transparency in government administration, more serious anti-corruption measures, and less restrictions on the media. We don’t need to allow the MB into the government like the US and Turkey are trying to force on us.

May 4th, 2011, 10:21 am

 

why-discuss said:

As was reported in le Monde of the 3rd May, Al Jazeera has reported today the demonstration in Banyas in support for Deraa. There is a moving image showing people holding a loaf of bread, it seems to have been peaceful.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/05/2011541000169200.html
“In the coastal city of Banias, about 1,000 protesters marched in the city’s Sunni district carrying loaves of bread, in solidarity with the people of Deraa.”

Besides that, there is no other demonstration reported and Blog of Syria on Al Jazeera has been removed. It is quite possible it was managed by Dorothy Parvaz, the canadian-american-iranian reporter of Al Jazeera that is reported missing in Syria

May 4th, 2011, 10:22 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Zuheir Seddiq is mentally disturbed. He has some psychiatric illness (probably some type of psychosis).

May 4th, 2011, 10:24 am

 

Revlon said:

#75 Dear Jad, Z Saddiq is a graduate of the Syrian Mukabarat.

He was responsible for giving information that lead to arrest, torture, and disappearance of many Syrians and non-Syrians at the hands of Mukabarat.

He will be tracked by the free Syria Justice together with other Syrian regime outcasts including R Asad and A Khaddam.

May 4th, 2011, 10:25 am

 

Abughassan said:

Countries like France will be the first to complain about the rise of political Islam,yet they are the first to attack secular governments !!
Most Syrians support ending the emergency law,in actions not just words,and allowing more freedom and transparency especially in the judicial system,but there is a real danger of the emergence of Islamist parties that are more divisive than inclusive.France and the US may be just playing with words to please angry observers who are,and rightfully so,distressed by the bloodshed in Syria,but toppling the regime now will have a disastrous effect on the region and Syria.the devil you know is better than the unknown.
On the other hand,superficial changes in Syria will not work this time.people need more substance and they want the fear of being arrested for just speaking out to be removed for good. For the time being,I am still waiting to see a third option for cellular phone service in Syria.Rami,if he truly cares about Syria,needs to keep a low profile and allow other investors to breathe.

May 4th, 2011, 10:37 am

 

why-discuss said:

Post-revolution Tunisia needs to be saved by the international community from violence and bankrupt

Like Iraq after the violent fall of Saddam, Tunisia lives now under the fear of the violent reprisals of the men of Ben Ali, some examples: 3 prisons burnt and 800 criminals let loose, 500 Salafists using violence in the street, an international hotel attacked.
A revolution that was done without violence is maybe now turning into a violent post-revolution.
In addition 4 billions is estimated to put the country back on track economically… Promises from the country supporters of the democracies that did not yet materialize.

Désormais, la Tunisie vit sous la menace des hommes de main de l’ancien régime. Policiers, mafieux, voyous, notables de l’ex-RCD : tous s’unissent pour salir, casser, tabasser le pays. Leur objectif : instaurer le règne de la peur. Se venger. Tuer la révolution. Chaparder le pouvoir. Quelques exemples : samedi 30 avril, ce sont trois prisons qui sont incendiées afin que 800 détenus s’échappent. Samedi encore, ce sont 500 salafistes qui font violence, avec la complicité de la police politique, avenue Bourguiba. Dimanche 1er mai, c’est un hôtel international de Tunis qui est attaqué comme dans le plus mauvais des westerns. Total : la multiplication des opérations coup-de-poing menée par de petits mercenaires rémunérés par les ex du RCD.
….Les besoins immédiats sont estimés à 4 milliards de dollars par la Banque mondiale. Le prix à payer pour remettre le pays sur les rails de la croissance. Et le sauver définitivement des complots fomentés par ceux qui firent fortune sous Ben Ali et perdraient tout sous un régime démocratique.

http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2011/05/04/la-tunisie-vit-sous-la-menace-mafieuse-des-hommes-de-main-de-l-ancien-regime_1516779_3232.html

May 4th, 2011, 10:46 am

 

AIG said:

“This is very natural in a country where most people are either illiterate or barely literate.”

The Assads have been in power for 40 years. So whose fault is that that most Syrians are barely literate? Don’t you see that this cannot be used as an excuse by the regime since it is their fault?

May 4th, 2011, 10:48 am

 

N.Z. said:

To label those who are outside Syria as opportunist is not effective, rather repetitive.

Almost the same number of Syria’s population are expatriate, and this speaks volume.

They, for sure love their homeland as much as those who never left. To allude that they are less patriotic is an opportunistic and illusional approach.

They left first and foremost to live a life of dignity and away from fear. They were indirectly encouraged to leave, this is a fact.

Those who left to get better education and returned to improve their homeland, their way was filled with obstacles and Mr. 50% percent was awaiting to partner in each and every investment.

When Assad labelled Arab leaders as half men, meaning, you should live up to your words as men, he forgot that he is in the lead. If Saudi Arabia reacted on his stupidity and evacuated Syrians from Arabia, will Assad care for the millions of Syrians who live on their relatives support?

If anything, the opportunists are those who ruled and ruined this lovely country of ours, we all call home, Syria.

So let us all get realistic, and say things as they are. We need change with or without the regime. We need transparency. We can all see this regime naked. They are exposed more and more with every second ticking.

May 4th, 2011, 11:05 am

 

Shami said:

Btw ,Bashar is not an anti islamist ,he loves the islamist theocracy of khomaini and he tried hard to spread khomainism in Syria with the help of mollahs and ayatollahs imported from qom, all of those share the same kind of historical hatred.
He fears the syrian islam which can not be theocratic.

May 4th, 2011, 11:13 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Assad makes many unwise decisions. It was he who lifted restrictions on Islamic schools and organizations that helped spread Islamism in society. He is now paying for his own mistakes.

What is the point from publicly attacking Qatar and refusing to meet with Qatari delegations? Assad meets with American delegations even though America is much more hostile to Syria than Qatar.

By severing ties with Qatar and launching a media campaign against it, we only lost Qatari money and investments. I don’t think we won anything.

May 4th, 2011, 11:15 am

 

Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

#89 SHAMI

Are you copying from Wahhabi websites? You sound like a complete Wahhabi.

May 4th, 2011, 11:19 am

 

N.Z. said:

Who encouraged the Muslin Sisterhood in Syria while suppressing Muslim Brotherhood?

Why are there more Hussainiat in Damascus than there are Shiites?

Shami said: “He fears the syrian islam which can not be theocratic”

# 91 Wahabbis and Baathist same coin, attacking the messenger not the message. Losing game, especially when people’s life are in danger by a regime that is oppressing its own with tanks and live ammunition.

No matter what this regime does at this point he will lose. The best thing he can do, is, to end the atrocities, the era of silence is over

May 4th, 2011, 11:37 am

 

MONTAGNARD said:

SHAMI @#89
I for one am sick and have had enough of Islam being debated as a central issue of Syrian politics.
Wahabis, Salafis, Sufis, Ikhwan, Jihadist, Alawis, Shiaa, Esmailis, Drouz are all muslims that study the same book and take the same bacalaureat religion exam.
All Syrian Muslims should keep their religious debate to themselves, confined to their religious gatherings and need to keep their religious views distinct from national politics.
The US constitution is a document that proved its ability to guaranty freedom including freedom of religion, while having a strict doctrine of separating church and state.
Is it not long overdue to take religion out of Syrian national politics?
When all Syrians identify as Syrians first, regardless of their religion, then we can achieve and guaranty civil liberties and have equal rights.

You say:
“Bashar is not anti islamist, he loves the islamist theocracy of khomaini..”
“He fears the syrian islam which can not be theocratic”.

I say:
I don’t give a hoot what he likes and what he fears. His religious views are private and does not concern me and should not concern you. The Syrian constitution should guaranty freedom of religion and the separation of religion and state, otherwise religion will be a divisive force in the Syrian state. Such a guaranty is critical, when the Syrian society is comprised of a diverse number of sects of each religion.

May 4th, 2011, 12:23 pm

 

Mina said:

If France and the UK put Syria on a list of sanctions, such as a ban on weapon sales, it may help the popularity of al-Assad in these countries. Sarkozy is looking for a job (his half-brother’s relation network should help) with his Libya campaign and tries to get a few extra points for next year election, which he is almost sure to lose.
http://www.carlyle.com/team/item10347.html

Libya is a showcase for weapon dealers. No one care about the civilian casualties, as usual with Nato. They are now bombing the equipment they sold less than 6 months ago to Qaddafi!!
http://rt.com/news/uk-british-arms-gaddafi/

May 4th, 2011, 12:29 pm

 

Mawal95 said:

Quoted from Souri333:

Souri333: Assad said before that he won’t start serious political reform until the education level improves, and to improve education you need to improve the economy. Assad said that he wanted to reform the economy and state institutions before he starts serious political reform. There is no point in starting a political process that would lead only to sectarian chaos and instability. Assad said that our ultimate goal is to develop the country, not anything else. Political reform [democracy] at this stage will not help develop the country…. What we need now is more transparency in government administration, more serious anti-corruption measures, and less restrictions on the media.

I believe that’s a good statement of the position of the top leadership in the regime and also of a majority of the regime’s supporters. Professor Josh put it somewhat similarly a few weeks ago when he said, speaking only of Bashar al-Assad: “He [Bashar] may be a “modernizer” but not a “reformer,” is how Volker Pertes recently explained it. This is a polite way to say that he is not preparing the way for an eventual transfer of power.”

In my view there’s nothing objectionable about a platform for Syria that excludes competitive electoral democracy. Democracy as such would be of little value even if it were to function okay in Syria, and it might not function okay.

But Souri333’s statement “less restrictions on the media” is not vigourous enough. The regime has to radically free up all media communications. Because if they don’t then (a) they will alienate a large number and wide variety of people in the younger generations, and (b) they will fail in practice anyway because of the internet.

Less restrictions on the media should also mean that the Wahabi’s are free to publish their books, speak their mind, and have their schools. Because if you keep a “tight lid on them” as Mark A. and Souri333 want, they will turn to violence out of the unfairness of the treatment they get. When you’re not fair to Arabs in this day and age, they get angry. You have to be fair to them. It’s important for peace.

May 4th, 2011, 1:41 pm

 

democracynow said:

Solitarius,

Don’t worry, here’s another video from the protest last night at Aleppo uni dorms:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcVIUXtDL-o

Let’s leave it to people to make up their own minds about how many protesters were there; whether 50 or 250 or 999.

Notice how they were all participating vigorously. No by-standers.

It should also be noted that these student went out to protest knowing full well the risks of arrest and suspension from university. Unbelievable bravery…

May 4th, 2011, 2:39 pm

 

Umar said:

What a pathetic response Souri333, to Shami’s words of truth as the criminal Syrian regime has no problem with Shi’ite Islamist groups, who declare Abu Bakr and Umar infidels while smiling and laughing with American leaders, and why don’t go preach secularism to the Iranian and and Iraqi allies of your beloved Syrian regime?!

May 4th, 2011, 3:57 pm

 

Shami said:

Montagnard,i agree with you,Damascus in the begining of the last century had accepted shia lebanese families (with Mohsen al Amine)who are moderate and open minded shias but i had to disagree with Souri,who told us that Bashar hates the islamists.It happens that he only hates the syrian islamists whereas he loves the iranian islamists,his regime helped them to build iranian propaganda centers and hussayniyat in order to spread khomainism in Syria.

May 4th, 2011, 4:48 pm

 

Jihad said:

Robert Fisk he turned himself into a petty liar on the payroll of the Wahhabi Hariri family. One or two are trying to imitate him on this blog by (ab) using of videos generated through Youtube.

The same can be said of Nicholas Blandford.

May 4th, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

demoracynow said:

Qunfuz,

Just read your comments. Agree with everything you said.

Cheers.

May 4th, 2011, 6:56 pm

 
 

Weekly Roudup (5/5) | Mideast Reports said:

[…] – In a sign of economic stress, Syrian Banks have been asked to help stabilize the currency. […]

May 5th, 2011, 8:48 pm

 

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