News Round Up (5 May 2011)

“In the coastal city of Banias, about 1,000 protesters marched in the city’s Sunni district this Wednesday carrying loaves of bread, in solidarity with the people of Deraa.” Elsewhere quite reigned, except for Deraa, where the crackdown continues and the government says it is “completing its mission.” According to the Syrian press both the US and French Ambassadors have said that the foreign press has distorted Syrian realities. None of this has been picked up by the Western press that I have noticed, which suggests that it may be taken out of context by the Syrian press. Although both sides have been distorting news stories, often egregiously, I find it hard to imagine that either Ambassador would be quoted saying that the foreign press is distorting the story at this time.

The IMF lowered Syria’s economic growth rate to three percent from 5.5 for this year. It said if peace returns to the country, then in 2012 growth could rise to 5.1 percent. This is undoubtedly a conservative estimate of Syria’s likely growth drop.

The Russian parliament has declared that any attempt to destabilize Syria should be rejected. This provoked a pro-Russia demonstration in Damascus in front of the embassy.

مصدر عسكري مسؤول: مهمة وحدات الجيش في درعا شارفت على الانتهاء بعد تحقيق معظم أهدافها

04 أيار , 2011


صرح مصدر عسكري مسؤول بما يلي.. تتابع وحدات الجيش والقوات المسلحة مهمتها التي شارفت على الانتهاء في مدينة درعا بعد تحقيق معظم الأهداف التي دخلت من أجلها حيث تمت ملاحقة ماتبقى من فلول العناصر الإرهابية المسلحة التي كانت تروع السكان الآمنين وتنشر الذعر والخراب والقتل في جميع الأحياء وتمكنت من إلقاء القبض على العشرات منهم ومصادرة كميات كبيرة من الأسلحة الحديثة والذخائر المتنوعة في أماكن مختلفة ما ساهم في إعادة الشعور والطمأنينة لسكان المدينة

The Emir of Qatar says that he will not put sanctions on Syria and supports an internal solution to Syria’s problems.

استمهل رئيس الحكومة القطرية الشيخ حمد بن جاسم آل ثاني الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي، الذي تدعو بلاده إلى فرض عقوبات على النظام السوري، باريس منح المزيد من الوقت للرئاسة السورية كي تتوصل إلى حل داخلي مقبول. وقال لـ«السفير» في باريس، «لدينا علاقات مميزة مع سوريا، والوضع فيها مهم بالنسبة للمنطقة ولقطر وللاستقرار. هناك حديث يجري عن (العقوبات) لكننا نحن نؤيد حلا من داخل البيت السوري ويلبي رغبات الشعب السوري».

سفير أميركا في سورية : هناك تشويه لما يجري في سورية عن طريق شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي

الوطن | الدوما الروسي: محاولات تقويض الاستقرار في سورية أمر غير مقبول


Syria moves to curb forex flight amid protests
4 May 2011, Agence France Presse

Syria on Wednesday launched a string of measures to curb the flight of foreign currency triggered by anti-regime protests by permitting for the first time savings in dollars and euros.

The measures come after Syria’s economic prospects weakened, with the International Monetary Fund revising downward its growth rate, the local currency diving about 10 percent in the black market and the Damascus Stock Exchange plunging 20 percent in the past six weeks.

“From today, Syrians are permitted to open savings accounts in dollars and euros worth up to 120,000 dollars as long as the amount is blocked for at least six months,” a director at the central bank told AFP.

The central bank also decided to increase the interest rate on savings in Syrian pounds by two percent to nine percent in a bid to “support the national currency.”

Syria, whose foreign exchange reserves are estimated at 17 billion dollars, also lowered the cash reserve ratio on bank deposits to five percent from 10 and since Monday cut retail dollar withdrawals to 5,000 from 10,000.

“This is to avoid speculation as customers were buying the dollar at the official rate of 47.5 pounds and sold it (in the black market) at 50 pounds,” said the director.

A banker in Damascus said that during the past month, daily withdrawals have exceeded deposits, with retail customers storming bank teller machines…..

The IMF, meanwhile, lowered Syria’s economic growth rate to three percent from 5.5 for this year. It said if peace returns to the country, then in 2012 growth could rise to 5.1 percent.

The economic growth rate was revised downward largely due to a fall in income from tourism and the textiles industry.

An economics expert based in Damascus said if the protests continue, the 11th five-year plan worth 100 billion dollars which began this year could be affected.

“This plan is crucial if Syria wants to grow in the long term,” he said, adding it would also “reduce the unemployment rate which is officially 11 percent, but in reality it is around 20 percent

The OECD has lowered Syria’s credit risk rating by one notch to 7, the lowest rate in its scale, as protests taking place across the country are expected to create a severe economic downturn.

Syria and the sectarian ‘plot’
Salwa Ismail, guardian, Thursday 28 April 2011
Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been fostering fears of a religious divide in order to undermine protesters

The role of sectarianism in Syrian politics and the position in the power structure of the Alawi community – a minority sect in Islam thought to comprise approximately 12% of the population – have been off limits as a subject in public discourse until the recent crisis. This prohibition has been abandoned by the regime which is now raising the threat of sectarianism in official media narratives about armed gangs, Salafi militants and foreign conspiracies against Syrian national unity.

In response the opposition, human rights activists and local observers accuse the security forces of themselves sowing the seeds of sectarianism. According to independent reports, in coastal cities and villages where members of both Alawi and Sunni communities live, patrols of unidentified men have visited residents belonging to either group to warn them of impending sectarian attacks and to mobilise them against the other group. Similar attempts at stirring conflict on a sectarian basis are reported by residents in Barzeh al-Balad, a Damascus suburb. There, it is believed, security personnel spread rumours that Sunni residents were planning attacks on their Alawi neighbours.

An undercurrent of the regime’s rhetoric has been the fragility of Syria’s social fabric, and the possibility that Syrians as a people could retrench to their narrow religious and ethnic identities. By manipulating Syrians’ concerns about national unity, the regime is trying to counter the opposition…..

The security approach is hinged on a strategy that holds minorities hostage, raising the spectre of sectarian aggression to cow protesters into compliance and justify the use of violence against demonstrations.

This strategy may not hold for much longer. The danger remains that the regime, in its desperation to hold on to power, will seek to turn its warnings of sectarian conflict into reality. But it is more likely to be faced with a general uprising that cannot be contained by deploying yet more violence.

Assad retrenches into Alawite power base
4 May 2011
Reuters News
* Assad uses language his father used to counter dissent
* Alawite figures among opposition leaders

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN, May 4 (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly relying on his Alawite power base to crush pro-democracy protests that have posed the boldest challenge to the Assad family’s 41 years of rule over Syria.

Assad, an Alawite, sent army and secret police units dominated by officers from the same minority sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, into mainly Sunni urban centres to crush demonstrations calling for his removal for the last six weeks.

Their use of tanks to shell the city of Deraa last week, storming of mosques and attacks on unarmed civilians — as reported by residents and activists — have raised the stakes.

Reports say that Sunni conscripts, Syria’s majority sect, refused to fire at their co-religionists.

The 45-year-old president, who has kept the Soviet-era political system he inherited from his father intact, has hinted repeatedly that the protesters were serving a foreign conspiracy to spread sectarian strife.

The warning was reminiscent of language his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, used when he put down an Islamist and secular leftist challenge to his rule in the 1980s and has not found wide resonance.

Mass protests for political freedoms and an end to corruption spread after Assad made his remarks. An official media campaign was launched last month with the motto “surround the symbols of sectarian strife”.

Security forces have shot dead at least 560 civilians in attacks on protesters, human rights groups say. Hundreds more are missing, many feared killed, and thousands have been arrested, adding to thousands of political prisoners.

But Assad may have struck a chord among members of the Alawite sect, who rose to prominence in the army under French rule, when the colonial administration used “divide and rule” tactics to control Syria.

Alawite officers expanded in numbers and gained control over the armed forces a few years after the Baath Party took power in 1963, especially key air squadrons, missile and armoured brigades and intelligence.

“The army is mostly Sunni in terms of numbers, but an Alawite captain has more say than a Sunni general,” said a former member of the army’s personnel division.

Alawites received preferential treatment in government and security jobs, although many Alawite villages remained poor and prominent Alawite figures led part of the secular opposition against Assad family rule.

A declaration signed last month by Aref Dalila, a leading Alawite economist who spent eight years as a political prisoner after critcising monopolies granted to an Assad cousin, denounced what he called the sectarian scare tactics used by authorities.

Assad, who allowed Islamists to exert more control over society as long as they did not interfere in politics, tried during the protests to placate conservative Sunnis by promising to open an Islamic university and easing bans on wearing the full veil.

His father used a blend of repression and the granting of privileges to ensure that the Sunni merchant class, whose influence has gradually waned as a new business generation tied to the Assad family rose, supports Syria’s minority rulers.


Control of the army, however, has remained key to perpetuating Assad family rule over a majority Sunni population.

The Fourth Mechanised Brigade, headed by Assad’s brother Maher, bombed and machine-gunned the city of Deraa into submission last week. Republican Guards units deployed around Damascus. In Rastan north of Homs, residents said Military Intelligence agents killed 17 protesters on Friday.

Witnesses said authorities have begun to arm villages in the Alawite Mountains overlooking the mixed coastal cities of Latakia, Banias and Tartous, where Alawites who descended from there were employed in the government and security apparatus, marginalising traditional Sunni communities.

Gunmen loyal to Assad, known as ‘shabbiha’, have rampaged in Banias and Latakia to scare demonstrators, killing at least six civilians in a sectarian-driven attacks, residents said.

“I was driving with my wife and children through the Alawite Mountains over Banias and road blocks appeared in almost every Alawite village. Villagers were carrying brand new AK-47s,” said a Syrian Christian engineer, whose community has stayed on the sidelines during the unrest.

Anas al-Shughri, a protest leader in mostly Sunni Banias, said armed Alawite villagers in the hills overlooking the restive city have been loosely grouped into loyalist militias.

“I regret to say that the propaganda that Assad is spreading that the Alawites will not survive if he is toppled is receiving an audience among our Alawite neighbours,” Shughri said.

A report by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, which is headquartered in Doha, said sectarian “agitation has reached an advanced stage in mixed areas” but that Syrians in general have not fallen for it.

“There is no dispute that the ‘shabbiha’ are semi-criminal gangs comprosed of thugs close to the regime,” it said.

Syria’s leadership was exploring “the importance of the sectarian factor and how to use it to confront the mass demonstrations freedom and dignity,” the report said.

The Structure of Syria’s Repression, Will the Army Break With the Regime?
Ahed Al Hendi,  May 3, 2011
Foreign Affairs

the fact that the Alawites occupy many top positions in the army could actually undermine the regime. And the people respect the army in Syria; the Syrian national anthem, for instance, which has been sung at the protests, highly praises the military. The army was not involved in Assad’s daily oppression (except for the aforementioned Republican Guard and the Fourth Division).

Yet although the opportunity exists for the protesters to co-opt the army, it will not be easy to bring it into direct conflict with Assad. To convince the army to switch sides, the dissidents require international assistance. This should include imposing severe sanctions on targeted elements of Assad’s regime and attempts to communicate with positive elements in Assad’s leadership, such as Defense Minister Ali Habib, the officer who participated in the Gulf War as part of the international coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. By helping to widen the cleavages between the army and Maher al-Assad’s Fourth Division and Republican Guard, the international community can greatly assist the dissidents’ cause. …. should the greater part of the army defect, the Fourth Division and the Republican Guard will be unable to defend the regime alone. The Assad family may then surrender, giving way to the wishes of the Syrian people.

In Iraq, assassinations are a nightly event. Washington Post

BAGHDAD — The assassins strike quietly, often just after dark, as Iraq’s political and military leaders speed home surrounded by armed guards. The dead in April alone included generals, police commanders, a deputy minister and the head of Iraq’s tax agency. The wounded included a member of parliament, a judge and the head of the national theater, survivors of attacks on their motorcades. Among 50 targeted killings last month, most were carried out by gunmen using silenced weapons, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry, which oversees the country’s police forces. Read full article >>
(Aaron C. Davis)

All quiet in Damascus despite protests across Syria Washington Post

DAMASCUS, Syria — Even as protests spread across Syria, the capital has mostly remained quiet. Anti-government demonstrations have erupted in all corners of the country in the past six weeks, meeting a fierce government crackdown along the way. But though people in Damascus watch the events with concern, most doubt that the scenes being broadcast on television from across the country will be repeated here. About 500 people marched in the Midan area of the capital Friday and reportedly shouted pro-freedom slogans. But for the most part in Damascus, the heart of the Sunni business class, residents say they have too much to lose to join in. Read full article >>
(The Washington Post)

Post-revolution Tunisia needs to be saved by the international community from violence and bankruptcy says Le Monde

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.

Comments (40)

Mawal95 said:

Before anyone advocates for democracy in Syria, they should analyze how democracy would function in practice in Syria. The following scenario is a peaceful and relatively rosy scenario for how democracy would function. The Bashar regime says that this following scenario (and various others) are not something that modernizing Syrians should want to rush into, or even aspire to. Please evaluate the scenario and judge the merits of the regime’s view.

In nearly all elections in nearly all countries, there are two kinds of voters: (1) longterm committed supporters of a certain party, and (2) voters who can and do change the party they vote for, from one election to the next — the “swing voters”. The nonswing voters are the majority of voters. In a normal election contest, the contest is about winning the swing voters. The political discourse of the election is about whatever the swing voters can be moved by. Alright. Now applying that normal model to a hypothetical Syrian democracy, suppose that you had (1) committed voters for a secular party (consisting of Christians, Alawites and some Sunnis), (2) committed voters for a moderately conservative Islamic party, all Sunnis, and (3) Sunnis who can swing their vote from secular to Islamic and back again. In order for the Islamic party to win the swing voters, it has to stay away from a very pious or very conservative Islamic spirit. In order for the secular party to win the swing voters, it has to move in the direction of Islamic emblematics (i.e. adopt some Islamic symoblism, but not deeper Islamic substance). The adoption of Islamic emblematics by the more secular party, which was necessary to win the swing voters, will estrange Christians (and probably Alawaites), who then prefer to vote for a party having their own emblematics. That frees the old secular party to move further in the direction of Islamic emblematics. So then we’ll have (1) a moderately liberal party with Islamic emblematics, and (2) a moderately conservative Islamic party, and (3) Christian and other minority sectarian parties with few seats in parliament. The election contest is still over the swing Sunni voter. The minority sectarian parties agitate for an electoral system that gives representation to the minority sects in parliament that more reflects their representation in the society as whole. There is no longer a secular party. Emblematics issues consume a lot of oxygen in the country’s political discourse. Education standards and economic output aren’t any better compared to the non-democratic scenario. The only beneficiaries of the democratic scenario are those who love Islamic flagwaving.

May 5th, 2011, 5:13 am


Mina said:

Since you may not read it in the “free press”, an important letter on the deal between France and Qatar about Libya

By the way, we all know that the media have never reported correctly about the events in Palestine, for example when in 2006 and again in 2010 Hamas was ready to talk with Israel and amend its charter. So many years (and lives) were lost because of the biased Western media, who all depend on their advertisment budget to survive, and therefore on some US and pro-Israeli lobbies. So how can we expect the Western media to report correctly about Syria if the journalists were there? Obviously they can’t even report about what is going on in Lebanon!

And what about the Western journalists packed in a hotel in Tripoli two months ago? Were they going to walk in the barren desert for their reports? No they were offering long interviews of the Qaddafi family, as long as they didn’t say something too offending I guess. What would be the reaction of the anti-regime opinion if we were getting such interviews from the Syrian governement?

May 5th, 2011, 5:20 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

It is bad that the sectarianist hater Khaled Oweis is still quoted. This guy should not be a Reuters correspondent but should be sent to Guantanamo.

May 5th, 2011, 5:27 am


syau said: is reporting military personnel are beginning to withdraw from Daara.

May 5th, 2011, 5:28 am


Inhabitant of Damascus said:

The International Crisis Group post on 3 May, ‘Syria : Quickly Going Beyond the Point of No Return’, is an accurate summary of the state of play in Syria today. As Syria enters its 7th week of protest and bloodletting, and the 2nd week of army crackdowns in Daraa and other centres (Banias, Douma, Saqba, Rastan), there is a growing question of who is leading Syria.

Assad is the head of government but there is no sign that he is calling the shots. Without strong political leadership (in contrast to strong security leadership) the future of Syria looks bleak. Why has Assad not spoken to the Syrian people telling them what is going on and setting out a strategy? In over 6 weeks he has appeared only twice – to speak to Parliament, and to his new Cabinet.

From the start of the unrest there has been a tug of war between the political leadership and the security leadership. Assad’s attempt to lead following the initial civilian Daraa deaths at the hands of security forces, by dismissing the governor, and later dismissing the governor and security head in Banias, was short-lived. As Assad prepared his speech to Parliament his staff (the respected Bouthaina Shaaban in particular) said he was to announce important reforms. The speech deadline was delayed while a debate ensued on its content. The speech was in the end very lame, almost flippant and lacked substance.

Following a better speech to his new cabinet, Assad lifted the 1963 Emergency Law, and promised additional reforms. The next day the army and security forces took control of Daraa and other centres in what can only be described as a brutal crackdown. It is accepted that security forces had come under fire in Deraa and other locations, (the London based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights estimates 89 security force deaths), but the regime’s response seems to have been excessive.

The crackdown, the 500 plus civilian death toll, and the 2500-3000 arrests, have have seriously undermined Assad’s reputation both in Syria and internationally. Indeed the crackdown has made a mockery of Assad’s reform announcements – the security apparatus has demonstrated that it is above the law in its mis-treatment of ordinary Syrians. The longer Assad remains behind the scenes the more chaotic the situation seems, and the harder it will be for him to recover the situation. Respect lost is difficult to regain. Syria is indeed approaching the point of no return.

May 5th, 2011, 5:57 am


Mawal95 said:

In my Syrian democracy scenario, I said things would evolve to a State where there was no longer a secular party. What I meant to say was that it would evolve to where there was no longer a non-small party with purely secular emblematics.

In a Syrian democracy, the State’s identity in terms of State emblematics would be a very difficult political issue, that would generate a lot of sectarian conflict.

May 5th, 2011, 6:02 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Well it looks that this uprising is going to reduce economic growth by half. This is very bad.

Even worse is its possible political consequences. Like his father in the 1980’s, Bashar Assad may feel overconfident after quelling the uprising and he may not do any political reform at all.

The minimum reform that we can actually call reform is to allow different political parties to compete. Allowing new parties into the “National Progressive Front” is not reform. Syrians want to see different political factions compete to win their votes. If Assad does not give them that, he must expect the support he has now to wane fast. Most people are supporting Assad now against this American-Wahhabi attack because they believe he is going to reform. Their support is not unconditional. Assad must not be deceived.

People want to see structural changes. The National Progressive Front must go. Most Syrians hate this front because it reminds them with Hafez Assad’s take over power. Assad must consider serious structural reforms if he wants to convince people that he is reforming.

There are many “safe” scenarios for gradual political opening up. For example, Assad can amend the constitution to allow the parliament to elect the PM. Assad can stay as president and he can keep his security apparatus, but he can allow the people to elect the parliament and the PM. This is a “safe” move that will not fundamentally jeopardize his regime.

The best thing for Assad to do now is to write a new constitution. This is his chance to write a secular modern constitution while he (and his clan) still have the power to do it. Applying the Chinese model in Syria won’t work. If Assad thinks that he can keep the structure of a “socialist” state (and even keep a “socialist” constitution) while opening up the economy, then he must do his calculations again. Syria is not China. Syria is very open to influence from its surrounding environment. People will keep demanding political reform whether we like it or not.

Assad (and his clan) must accept that at some point he will have to step down and leave the office for someone else (whether by their choice or not). Unless the ruling clan accepts this fact, there will never be any serious reform.

Assad can start with amending the constitution to allow the people to elect the PM. He can then rule as president for 10 or 20 more years. After that, he must step down and let the army guard the constitution and the minorities. Unless he does that, Syria is going to have a civil war sooner or later.

May 5th, 2011, 6:05 am


why-discuss said:


It is all a matter of trust. Bashar is the only asset of the regime. yet, the killings may have lower his popularity.
Bashar must first obtain a vote of confidence from the Syrians: Do they trust him or not?. If the majority don’t, then there is no point in staying for a long period. He would stay just enough time to announce elections for a new president directly from the people and step down.
If he gets a vote of confidence then he ‘ll do what he wants at his own pace.
Why don’t they do polls in Syria?

May 5th, 2011, 7:51 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Bashar now is more popular than before the uprising. Before the uprising there was widespread economic frustration, but people now have put aside their economic complaints and rallied behind Bashar because they are scared. This is a typical response at times of national crises.

The people who are being killed never liked Bashar in the first place, neither will they like him no matter what he does.

Analyzing the situation the way you did is very superficial. It is similar to the Western media which treats the Syrian people as if it were a homogenous lump.

May 5th, 2011, 8:15 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

The Wahhbis fear a political reform process led by Assad because they know it would exclude them. This is the reason why they escalated their violence after Assad’s initial ‘concessions.’

What we expect from Assad now is to allow COMPETITION between different parties. The Baath should not necessarily dominate the parliament anymore. Assad must amend the constitution so that the parliament elects the PM as well as the president (like in Lebanon). Also I wish if we restore the old name of the parliament مجلس النواب instead of مجلس الشعب.

May 5th, 2011, 8:30 am


why-discuss said:


If Bashar has an increase popularity as you say, he will take all his time to make reforms to the political system, if ever. He would not want to appear like he is giving in neither to the international pressure nor to the protesters, he did it once an it had the opposite effect: We have seen how the opposition (and the international community) got embolded when he announced the end of the emergency law and said “it was too late, too little” and start to ask for a regime change. In a position of strength, Bashar can just say NO major reforms.

First he will have to deal with the looming economical crisis and the aftermath of the uprisings with a a much tighter control of the opposition.

In the next few weeks, when he is assured that the violent opposition is neutralized and people ( and the media) calm down, he will probably make an address to the Syrians to announce what was done and why, but he will NOT commit to any political reforms until he is sure that the reactions will not turn against him again. He won’t give that easy satisfaction to his enemies, national or international. He never did. If he does, he could be lost.

May 5th, 2011, 10:01 am


jad said:

You are right about Khaled Oweis piece being full of ugly sectarian language, no wonder they throw him out of Syria.
I notice that Jordanians in general are sectarian in their views, Muslims and Christians alike, that might explain this guy writing/mentality.

May 5th, 2011, 10:39 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Would you accept a gang in black uniforms, bused into your neighborhood in Canada, US, Europe or elsewhere? I wouldn’t.

May 5th, 2011, 10:43 am


jad said:

Your comment is hilarious coming from you the Israeli, who his army did way worse than just walking in the street by ‘walking thru walls’, go read Weizman’s essay “Lethal Theory” then come and write your comment.
Could you please spare us your high moral standards, we know how ‘high’ they are.

May 5th, 2011, 11:31 am


Mina said:

Another al-Jazeera journalist quits, ‘Abd al Hamid Tawfiq, head of the Damascus office.

May 5th, 2011, 11:47 am


why-discuss said:


Any place I can read about that defection?

May 5th, 2011, 11:52 am


majedkhaldoon said:

What is left for Gaddafi?Army lost 40-50% of its power, no air coverage, lost Misrata ,can not get back any city in the east,lost his son,Turkey abandoned him,He has no future.

What is the future for Salehh in Yemen?nothing but to leave.

Assad used brutal military power to subdue Deraa,demonstrations in many places,Turkey is warning him,the west sending him more criticism,worse economy,can he get back his resepct?even his loyalists are saying there will be more trouble in the future

May 5th, 2011, 12:05 pm


chaib said:

We are nauseated to see the SYRIAN tanks and soldiers against their people. They is unhappy and it is loose on behalf of president Assaad. Instead of directing its tanks and its army against Israel which monopolized itself of its GOLAN by the force, him like all the other dictators, direct their armament against their people. I would like to know which is the Arab country or Moslem who bought armament and which uses it against an enemy other than his people. They IS UNHAPPY. it is for this reason that majority leaders arabo-Moslems finish always badly. (I.e. either that they are made assassinate, or that they are done imprisoned, or driven out of their country like vulgar gangsters except for one only which resigned of its own liking and it is an Algerian. It E is not me which say it, it is reality, look at well Tunisia, Egypt, the Yemen and well of others in the list. Then for once be worthy of your race and direct your tanks against your enemy truths and leave your quiet people. It is proud people, and it is you who returned it timorous and weakened.

May 5th, 2011, 12:22 pm


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

#19 majed khaldoon,

The Syrian law says that calling for foreign intervention in your country is treason, and the punishment is long years in jail. If your call produces an actual result, the punishment becomes execution. I know that many of you “opposition” guys keep calling for foreign intervention in your country and believe this to be freedom of speech, but it is not. This is treason and the government has the right to execute you if they capture you.

If you are an MB runaway, this makes them 2 reasons to excute you under Syrian law.

May 5th, 2011, 12:25 pm


jad said:

قناة “الجزيرة” توافق على استقالة مدير مكتبها في دمشق
الخميس – 5 أيار – 2011 – 9:16:03

May 5th, 2011, 12:28 pm


Mina said:

Just type his name in Arabic on Google, it is mainly on Syrian websites until now.

May 5th, 2011, 12:39 pm


jad said:

وحدات الجيش تبدأ بالخروج التدريجي من مدينة درعا بعد أن أنجزت مهامها بإلقاء القبض على العناصر الارهابية وإعادة الأمن والهدوء
05 أيار , 2011

صرح مصدر عسكري مسؤول بما يلي:

بدأت وحدات الجيش بالخروج التدريجي من مدينة درعا حيث كانت تلاحق عناصر المجموعات الارهابية فيها تنفيذا للمهمة التي كلفت بها استجابة لنداءات المواطنين ومناشداتهم الجيش للتدخل وإعادة الأمن والهدوء والاستقرار إلى ربوع المدينة.

وقد ترك إنجاز المهام المطلوبة وإلقاء القبض على تلك العناصر الارهابية لتقديمها إلى العدالة آثاره الإيجابية على نفوس الأهالي وساهم في إعادة الطمأنينة والشعور بالأمن والأمان وأخذت الحياة تعود تدريجيا إلى وضعها الطبيعي.

الإفراج عن 361 شخصا متورطاً بأعمال شغب سلموا أنفسهم بعد تعهدهم بعدم تكرار أي عمل يسيء لأمن الوطن والمواطن

05 أيار , 2011

بينت وزارة الداخلية أن عدد المواطنين الذين سلموا أنفسهم للسلطات المختصة من المتورطين بأعمال شغب بلغ حتى تاريخه 361 شخصاً في مختلف المحافظات وما يزال العديد منهم يتوافد إلى مراكز الشرطة والأمن لهذه الغاية.

وأوضحت الوزارة في بيان لها اليوم أنه تم الإفراج عنهم فوراً بعد تعهدهم بعدم تكرار أي عمل يسيء إلى أمن الوطن والمواطن.

وكانت وزارة الداخلية أهابت في بلاغ سابق بالمواطنين ممن غرر بهم وشاركوا أو قاموا بأعمال يعاقب عليها القانون من حمل للسلاح أو إخلال بالأمن أو الإدلاء ببيانات مضللة المبادرة إلى تسليم أنفسهم وأسلحتهم إلى السلطات المختصة والإعلام عن المخربين والإرهابيين وأماكن وجود الأسلحة وسيصار إلى إعفائهم من العقاب والتبعات القانونية وعدم ملاحقتهم وذلك اعتباراً من تاريخ 2-5 وحتى 15-5 من العام الحالي.

May 5th, 2011, 12:40 pm


Mina said:

The West is now doing with Qaddafi what it did with Saddam: a best partner in war. Basically they treat him like Mubarak was doing with his opponents: put them in jail if they became too rich.
Qaddafi did the same as many African dictators, but the difference was that al-Jazeera cameras were there and that if they did not do anything, the Europeans would have been blamed for a new Srebrenica massacre. But it does put a heavy weight on the emerging democracies in Tunisia and Egypt, who have to cope with the returning workers, who can’t send money home anymore and are back and jobless. To add insult to injury, France refuses to give asylum to the people fleeing from Tunisia and Libya on dangerous small boats, while Tunisia’s villages on the borders are now accomodating thousands refugees from Libya.
Is it part of a counter-revolution plan?

May 5th, 2011, 12:58 pm


why-discuss said:

mina & jad thks for the link

This is a tough choice for the protesters who got carried away or followed blindly hardline leaders. Either they trust the amnistie offered and renounce to violence or they go underground and risk to be hunted down ruthlessly.

May 5th, 2011, 12:59 pm


why-discuss said:


Libya is becoming a quagmire and a nightmare for France, Italy and the UK. The US is watching to intervene when it’s the less risky. Alain Juppe expects the conflict to last weeks and months. Of course at the end they hope to reap some juicy contracts for oil. If Qadafi stays, China and Russia will get the contracts. Killing Qadafi is the garantee this will not happen. USA did lynch Ben Laden and threw him in the indian Ocean, the EU could lynch Qadafi and throw him in the meditarrean sea.
For the refugees, maybe Qatar, so anxious to bring its air force to support the “no fly zone”, should use QATAR airways, the five stars airline, to bring all these poor refugees to Qatar, the land of democracy and of free press. Syria did open its door to more than a million iraqi refugees!

May 5th, 2011, 1:10 pm


Mina said:

Kurds are very active today on Twitter to call for more tomorrow, and as always a bunch of Israelis and Gulf potato bags are excited in participating from their coach.
Plus this
which is frightful as to where it is going.
Erdogan said in an interview that he doesn’t know if Bashar al Asad really has a voice in what is going on.

May 5th, 2011, 1:17 pm


jad said:

It sounds horrible to put this kind of pressure against peaceful people who did nothing but asking to lift the siege over Daraa, especially if they are not politicians.
It’s terrible, unfair, unaccepted and dangerous to split our society between with and against as if there is nothing in between.

لقاء مع الفنانين اللي وقعوا بيان حليب درعا – 1

May 5th, 2011, 1:20 pm


Mina said:

Khaddam guest on BBC Arabic.
Is this the face the opposition want?

May 5th, 2011, 1:31 pm


Sophia said:


From what I understood, I didn’t watch the whole video: a group of well meaning ladies and artists have been caught in the cross fire of mounting polarization in Syria.

I liked the lady who was playing with the Masba’ha

May 5th, 2011, 1:40 pm


norman said:

Khaddam is being killed by the BBC

May 5th, 2011, 1:48 pm


jad said:

Those are a well respected Syrian artists who wrote a letter asking the government to lift the siege on Daraa for the sake of children and mothers.
There letter was taken politically by all news agency as a sign of them being against the regime and when you charged Syrian with patriotism you know how many people will call such call treason.
This is why they had to go on TV to clear their position for the public.

May 5th, 2011, 1:50 pm


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

28. jad,

You must understand that not all people are lucky enough to be setting behind the computer in a Western country and enjoying doing public relations and balancing what they say and do. People in Syria are scared. The Wahhabis are very scared because they know that the regime will not stop until it catches the last one of them. This is the reason for why they will not stop and they will keep fighting to the end. There is no going back. The non-Wahhabis are also scared because they are seeing the universal attack on Syria and they are scared about their future. This is not a discussion on a website– it is a war for survival. If the Wahhabis lose, they won’t survive and their fate will be like the MB’s. If the regime loses, the country will collapse and people will suffer.

May 5th, 2011, 2:06 pm


jad said:

I totally understand you point, what I disagree with is to make people become too paranoid about everything they read which lead to hatred and accusation of treason in all direction.

A video of The Syrian Army withdrawing from Daraa.
God save and protect Syria and Syrians.

تقدير كبير لدور الجيش وإجلال للشهداء الأبطال
تلفزيون الدنيا – الشارع السوري

May 5th, 2011, 2:22 pm


jad said:

What do you mean “Khaddam is being killed by the BBC”?

Another video of the withdrawing
الدنيا – خروج تدريجي لوحدات الجيش من درعا

Any Idea why Kuwait is standing firmly with the Syrian against all other Gulf state?

رجال أعمال عرب يضخون مئات الملايين لحماية الاقتصاد السوري
جهينة نيوز:

قالت مصادر مطلعة أن تكتلات لرجال أعمال سوريين، يشاركهم رجال أعمال عرب وخليجيون، يستعدون للإعلان عن استثمارات ضخمة في سوريا خلال الفترة القريبة المقبلة، بما يساعد في توفير المزيد من فرص العمل على أكبر مساحة جغرافية ممكنة وتعزيز مقومات الأمن الغذائي.

وبينت المصادر أن كثير من المشاريع التي سيتم طرحها ستوجه نحو القطاع الزراعي والغذائي حيث قدر حجم الاستثمارات التي سيعلن عنها في هذا السياق بنحو 500 مليون دولار مؤكدة أن الأموال جاهزة مباشرة للضخ عبر مشاريع يجري إعدادها حاليا وتطلق قريبا.

وكشفت جريدة الشرق الأوسط أن زيارة أمير الكويت إلى سورية الأحد المقبل ستحمل في شق منها جانبا اقتصاديا وسيجري خلالها الإعلان عن استثمارات مشتركة وإطلاق مشاريع كان متفقا عليها في زيارة الأمير الأخيرة إلى سوريا قبل أشهر.

يشار إلى أن من بين تكتلات رجال الأعمال التي تستعد للإعلان عن مشاريع استثمارية مجموعة مهمة من المستثمرين الكويتيين، كما أن هناك رجال أعمال إماراتيين.

May 5th, 2011, 2:42 pm


norman said:

They were beating him up about his corruption and relation to what is going on in Syria .

May 5th, 2011, 2:56 pm


jad said:

Allah la yerddo! 🙂

May 5th, 2011, 3:09 pm


why-discuss said:

An interesting article from lebanese french newspaper about the new strategy of the US: Using the MB sunni ‘newlook’ to counter the Iran shia influence in the region

La Syrie reste au cœur des spéculations
Par Scarlett HADDAD | 06/05/2011

Alors que l’actualité locale fait désespérément du surplace, les yeux des Libanais restent fixés sur la situation en Syrie. Les approches divergent selon le camp politique. Pour le 8 Mars, le président syrien aurait remporté la manche et son recours à la force, accompagné d’un processus de réformes, aurait porté ses fruits, puisque Deraa serait désormais pacifiée et le calme serait en train de revenir progressivement sur l’ensemble du territoire syrien. Le 14 Mars, lui, donne un tout autre son de cloche, affirmant que la semaine qui s’achève aujourd’hui devrait voir une recrudescence des émeutes qui seraient en train de s’étendre à de nouvelles localités, comme la grande ville d’Alep, restée jusque-là calme, alors que les condamnations de la communauté internationale augmentent et celle-ci se dirigerait vers l’adoption de sanctions importantes contre le régime.
Comme on peut le constater, les opinions sont très divergentes. Mais s’il est encore difficile de se prononcer sur l’issue de ce bras de fer entre le régime syrien et ses opposants (ou ses comploteurs, selon la version officielle), on peut déjà constater que, contrairement à certaines allégations, le régime est soutenu par l’armée, qui est restée unie, et ses services de sécurité, ainsi que globalement par les hommes de religion, et enfin par la bourgeoisie commerçante, soucieuse de stabilité. En face de lui, il est désormais clair que les opposants s’articulent autour des Frères musulmans, qui constituent la force la mieux structurée et la plus étendue en Syrie. Ceux-ci se sont dévoilés à travers des réunions et des conférences de presse données en Turquie.

Certains analystes estiment à cet égard que la nouvelle stratégie de l’administration américaine reposerait justement sur l’utilisation des Frères musulmans dans l’ensemble du monde arabe pour combattre l’Iran et ses alliés. Ces analystes ajoutent que maintenant qu’ils se sont débarrassés d’Oussama Ben Laden, les Américains peuvent de nouveau miser sur le courant islamiste pour juguler l’influence iranienne au Moyen-Orient. Ils auraient confié la mission de rendre les Frères musulmans « fréquentables » au parti au pouvoir en Turquie qui représente un islam moderne jugé tout à fait acceptable par l’administration américaine. Cette dernière devait toutefois auparavant frapper un grand coup pour justifier le recours à ces organisations longtemps considérées comme terroristes et non fiables. Ce fut la mort de Ben Laden, considéré comme l’ennemi public numéro 1 des Américains et de la communauté internationale en général. Les États-Unis ont pendant des années justifié leur appui au régime de Hosni Moubarak en Égypte par le fait que la seule relève possible est formée des Frères musulmans. Ces derniers s’apprêtent aujourd’hui à se lancer dans la prochaine bataille électorale en réclamant la moitié des sièges au Parlement, après avoir formé un parti officiellement laïc, comme l’exige la Constitution du pays. En parallèle, les Frères musulmans de Syrie, qui se sont choisi un nouveau leader, Riyad Chakfa, ont le champ libre à partir d’Istanbul. Championne de l’islam à visage acceptable pour les Américains, la Turquie serait ainsi visiblement appelée à remplacer l’Égypte comme leader des pays musulmans proaméricains dans la région. En même temps, les États-Unis ont rapidement réussi à démanteler ce qui était considéré comme l’axe fort de la région et qui était formé de la Turquie, de la Syrie, de l’Iran et du Qatar. Le Qatar s’est ainsi aligné sur la politique turque qui, elle, ne dissimule pas ses critiques à l’égard du régime syrien. Les responsables turcs estiment ainsi que le régime syrien leur avait promis qu’il ne ferait pas usage de la violence contre les manifestants, mais il n’a pas tenu parole et c’est pourquoi ils ont voulu lui rappeler ses promesses, n’hésitant pas à le pousser à accélérer le processus de réformes et à établir un dialogue avec les opposants. Le Premier ministre turc aurait même proposé au président syrien d’organiser un référendum auprès de sa population pour voir dans quelle mesure le régime jouit de l’appui de son peuple. Bachar el-Assad aurait approuvé la suggestion, mais visiblement, il ne compte pas l’exécuter avant d’avoir achevé la mission sécuritaire contre « les comploteurs ». C’est-à-dire une fois que les jeux seront faits… Le Qatar lui aurait prodigué les mêmes conseils, mais le régime a préféré choisir la voie de la solution militaire. Le ministre syrien des AE Walid Moallem s’est d’ailleurs réuni avec les diplomates accrédités à Damas pour expliquer, documents à l’appui, l’existence d’un complot contre le régime, qui aurait profité de la vague de liberté dans le monde arabe pour tenter de le renverser. A-t-il réussi à convaincre ses interlocuteurs ? Nul ne saurait l’affirmer, mais le régime ne veut plus reculer, tout en promettant d’accélérer le processus des réformes dès la fin des opérations militaires. Le parti Baas devrait tenir très bientôt un congrès général et la loi sur le multipartisme serait à l’ordre du jour. S’il a perdu l’appui de la Turquie et du Qatar, le régime syrien cherche désormais à se rapprocher de l’Égypte, alors que les liens étaient quasiment rompus avec le régime de Hosni Moubarak. Les mêmes analystes estiment ainsi que c’est l’une des raisons pour lesquelles aussi bien la Syrie que l’Iran ont facilité la réconciliation interpalestinienne restée impossible pendant quatre longues années. Même affaiblie, la Syrie a encore plus d’un tour dans son sac et les Libanais n’en ont pas fini de spéculer sur la situation dans ce pays. Et si la nouvelle stratégie américaine dans la région, annoncée récemment par la secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton, devait effectivement reposer sur une alliance avec les Frères musulmans « relookés », le camp adverse prépare lui aussi sa riposte. Tiraillé entre ces deux courants contraires, le Liban, lui, est plus que jamais paralysé.

May 5th, 2011, 7:52 pm


why-discuss said:

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Khaddam: ‘I expect the Syrian army to topple Assad!’

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Does Abdul Halim Khaddam Have Anything to Do with What’s Going on in Syria?

May 5th, 2011, 7:58 pm


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