Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Déjà Vu Revisited!

Away from the farce of pro-regime demonstrations, and media attention, a revolution continues to unfold, as major Anti-Assad rallies took place in Lattakia, Deraa and Douma.

News of the pro-regime demonstrations dominated news today, alongside those of Bashar’s cabinet resignation. But the most important tidbit in this regard was the confusion over when Bashar Al-Assad will choose to address the people and explain his reform initiative, if he has any. But in the parallel universes represented by the Province of Deraa and the City of Lattakia, and away from media attention, major protests continued to unfold. The Town of Douma on the periphery of Damascus also witnessed a major protest, with people shouting the by-now all too famous slogan “The People Want to Topple the Regime.”

The day started as predicated mass pro-regime demonstrations organized in the usual fashion: forcing public sector employees, college students and army recruits doping their obligatory military service to take part or else. Private sector employees working for the various companies owned by Bashar’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, among other relatives, partners and lackeys were also forced and/or cajoled to take part. Still, the results was less daunting than the usual million men marches that the regime used to be able to organize at the drop of a hat.  

Be that as it may, as far as protesters are concerned, the show served to render meaningless a scheduled speech by Bashar, seeing that by continuing to rely on such old tactics, he showed himself to be incapable of reform. For this, delaying was not of major substance for most protesters, albeit it did serve to fuel much rumors and speculations over potential dispute between Maher and Bashar as to how the current crisis can be bet handled.

All in all, spokesmen for the protesters in Arab and international media, including yours truly, were more interested in highlighting the following basic facts and observations:

1)     That the protests managed to cause of fall of the government within less than two weeks.
2)     That the pro-regime demonstrations were arranged to provide Bashar with a face-saving platform from which to announce his concessions.
3)     That whatever concessions offered by Bashar will not go far enough as far the protesters are concerned, as they are unlikely to include Bashar’s resignation and the handing of power to a transitional council.
4)     That by orchestrating the usual farcical demonstrations, Bashar’s reveals that could never be a reformer.
5)     That more people are now likely to join the protests due to sense of humiliation that accompanied the pro-regime rallies.
6)     That the revolution will continue and will engulf other cities and towns throughout Syria.
7)     That the lack of violence during the pro-regime rallies is clear indication as to who is behind the violence that took place earlier, i.e. the regime itself.
8)     That the violent slogans adopted by regime-supporters during the rallies, including “Don’t worry Bashar, you have behind you men who will drink blood,” is clear indication of where the threat of violence lies and who will be behind it.
9)     That the revolution will continue irrespective of this development.

This circular sent to city-councils and local branches of the Baath Party by the Governor of Tartous shows that the spontaneous pro-Assad demonstrations were indeed organized by his security apparatuses.

Meanwhile, Lattakia witnesses major protests in which participants called for toppling the regime. The protesters ended up gathering in Sleibeh Neighborhood, and when the army moved to besiege the protesters, they received them with joy and gave them water to quench their thirst. The people of Deraa had done the same hours before the massacred. Will the same take place ion Lattakia now? It’s anyone’s guess, but the situation remains tense, and the protesters are still camped in the Streets. The death toll of the crackdown over the last few days has now risen to 25, with 20 bodied having been removed by the army from hospitals in order to prevent funerals.  The protesters of Lattkia are encouraging colleagues in cities across Syria to emulate their example.

Lattakia: protesters marching to Sleibeh. “The Army and the people are one hand.” “We sacrifice our soul and blood for you o Martyr.” “God, Syria, Freedom, and nothing more.”
Chants: “Hurriyeh Hurriyeh (Freedom Freedom) Karameh Karameh (Dignity Dignity) Silmiyyeh Silmiyyeh” (Peacefully Peacefully) “We’ll sacrifice our sold and blood for you Deraa.” “Blood of the Martyrs Will Not be Wasted.” “Where are the Syrian People?” “Homes are meant for the womenfolk, the streets belong to the heroes.”
Army arrives
Protesters distribute water to the army
Previously: March 28: gang members and security officers march together against protesters, one gang member seen throwing stones at protesters from top of a fire truck.
(March28): “People Want to Topple the Regime”
(March 26): clashes

Deraa City and environs, too, witnessed mass protests, with protesters raising slogans against the official Syrian media accusing it of treason for not portraying the truths about developments in their province. 

Deraa: Protesters chants: “Listen Bashar, Deraa’s paradise has become a hellfire.” “O Horani rebel, the blood of martyrs is boiling.” “O Buthaina Shaaban, the Horani is not hungry.” “No to the establishment, no to Baath, we demand freedom.”  
“Hurriyyah Hurriyyah, Horan is Proud.” “The People Want to Topple the Regime.”
Deraa – Atman: A Funeral “Listen Bashar, the blood of martyrs is not for sale.”
Chant: “Syrian Media – A Traitor” Sign: “People Want to Freeze Assets of Assad and Makhlouf” Chant: “People Want to Topple the Regime.” “From Aleppo to Horan, the Syrian People Will not Be Humiliated.”
Deraa (Road between of Jassem and Ankhel villages): “Rise Rebels, Rise from Jassem, Rise form Ankhel.” “People Want to Topple the Regime.”
March 26: Another Poster of Bashar defaced

There was also a major demonstration of protests in Douma. The point was to show that even as staged pro-Assad rallies were taking place in Damascus, protesters were capable of holding their own demonstrations with respectable turnout as well. Too bad media was absent there as well.