A change of tactics by Assad in dealing with protests shows that international pressures work. Now we need more.
Friday April 15 could have indeed been a completely bloodless affair, despite the fact that it witnessed the largest turn-out since the beginning of the Revolution. But the security officers in Latakia, Homs, Jobar and Barzeh (a suburb of Damascus) couldn’t help their bloodlust. The result: one confirmed fatality in Latakia and several reported casualties in Homs, Jobar and Barzeh.
The very fact that so little bloodshed has taken place today is proof enough that security forces and Assad thugs have been behind the violence all along and that all talk of infiltrators and conspiracies is nonsensical. It also shows that when Bashar wants to he can control his security forces and the Shabbiha gangs, which puts the responsibility for all previous acts and occurrences of violence squarely on his shoulders. He is ultimately the one responsible and answerable for the deaths, the injuries, the arrests and the torture.
Moreover, today’s protests with chants of “the people want to topple the regime” heard all over Syria should now put to rest the notion that protesters only want to press for reforms. Indeed, regardless of how things got started, protesters are clearly seeking regime change now. Bashar’s change of tactic today will have little impact on protesters’ push for change.
Note: the common themes that emerged in almost every protest today: rejection of sectarianism, stressing national unity, calls for toppling the regime. In areas where the army made a strong presence, people chanted the “people and the army are one hand.”
An op-ed by Ammar Abdulhamid and Ken Ballen
(CNN) -- As protests spread across Syria, and the protesters prove to be more brave than intimidated by the use of live ammunition by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's security forces, one thing should be clear by now: This is indeed a revolution against tyranny.
Syrian pro-democracy activist Rami Nakhle has been hiding in a Beirut safe house since January. ''I paid smugglers $500 to carry me across the mountains from Damascus,'' he said this week. Mr Nakhle's decision to flee Syria was made at the start of December, a couple of weeks before the advent of the so-called ''Arab spring'' that has transformed the region.
Kids draw their impressions of developments in Syria. Signs carried by kids say: “the people want to topple the regime,” “God, Syria, Freedom and Nothing More,” Leave Bashar” and “Go Away.”
There are virtually hundreds of video clips covering today’s protests, which took place simultaneously in every major city and town across Syria. Below are a few that deserve special attention, followed by a longer list for those who have more time on their hand.
Banyas: a funeral for a Christian protester (Hakam Hanna), in which Muslisms and Christians took part, ends in a church where the local priest addresses the crowd. Banyas has mixed Sunni, Alawite, Christian population. Protesters come from all these backgrounds. “Praise God for your safe return… our fate is one… it is good that we stand by each other…
Banyas / Hakam Hanna’s funeral: “Muslims and Christians are one hand”
Damascus: A protests at Shamsi Pasha Mosque in the heart of Damascus
Damascus / Douma: “The people and the army are one hand”
Damascus / Douma: tearing a poster of Bashar
Damascus / Douma: protesters march towards the nearby city of Harasta chanting: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Harasta: protesters start demonstration by tearing down an Assad poster.
Damascus / Harasta: protesters heading towards Douma to meet their colleagues
Damascus / Harasta, Douma: the two demonstrations from Harasta and Douma meet and merge, with protesters from Harasta chanting “We sacrifice our blood and soul for you Douma,” putting aside the history of blood-feud that separated the two neighborhoods.
Damascus / Harasta, Douma: the new larger demonstration now heads towards the suburbs of Irbeen and Jobar, with plans to descent on the Abbasid Square near Damascus Center, but plans falter when the Jobar demonstration, though, get dispersed by thousands of security officers, already position to guard to square. Still, all along the march, protesters were chanting “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Kesweh: protests chanting “We want to lift the siege. Freedom at the gate”
Damascus / Zabadani: “Freedom for Muslims and Christians”
Damascus / Barzeh: small protests, but participants still chant “the people want to topple the regime” leading to attacks by security officers, casualties reported.
Damascus / Darayyah: 5000 protesters chant “Syrians aren’t afraid of death” and carry banners condemning sectarianism and celebrating national unity.
Damascus / Darayyah: “the people want to lift the siege”
Damascus / Tal: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Saqba: “those standing on the sidewalk, don’t be afraid, freedom is calling you.”
Homs / Bayadeh: “We’re marching to Heaven in the millions” “Bashar, you thief, we will trample you underfoot” “the people want to topple the regime.”
Homs / Talbisseh: children hit head of a statue of the late Hafiz Assad with their shoes. The statue itself was located in the nearby city of Rastan, but local inhabitants destroyed it and drove it in a pickup truck to Talbisseh so people can take their revenge for the siege they had to undergo over the last week.
Homs / Rastan: Statue of Hafiz Al-Assad burnt
Homs / Talbisseh: removing posters of Bashar and Hafiz from entrance to local municipality
Homs / Souq Al-Joumaa: protesters ask: “where are the infiltrators?”
Homs / Hamidiyyeh: protesters come under fire
Homs: protesters chant “Freedom to Muslims and Christians”
Homs: protesters chant “the people want to topple the regime”
Jableh: “From Jableh to Banyas, the Syrian people won’t bne trampled upon… We’re marching to heaven in the millions.”
Lattakia: “the people want to topple the regime”
Lattakia: wounded protester. The nature and details of attacks by security are not clear yet. The protester could be one of the people wounded by the fire engine shown in the second and third videos videos below
Lattakia: “We want Freedom, Muslims and Christians”
Tartous: “Allay, Syria, Freedom and Nothing More”
Deraa / Izraa: army troops join protesters (they can be seen running along the side of the road to the left, people can be heard hailing them and call them heroes)
Deraa / Sanamein: “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa City: “Like Father Like Son” “The People want to topple the regime.” Protesters also carried banners in support of Banyas, one said “Idiots, this is Banyas not Gaza.”
Deraa City: “the people want to topple the regime” “Death preferable to Humiliation”
Deraa City: “He who kills his own people is a traitor”
Deraa / Hara
Deraa / Ankhel
Deraa / Ankhel: “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa / Jassem: young girl speaks: “I used to live in humiliation, but, thanks to you, I know live with dignity”
Deraa / Jassem: “Oh Maher tell your brother that the people of Deraa hate you.”
Deraa, Jassem: speaker wonders: “Ben Ali and Mubarak said they understood, is it possible he still doesn’t?... So, let’s say it in English: We want Freedom… they have two choices: they submit to our revolutionary rule, or they can kill us all… You won’t rule us alive, but you can rule our bones… the people want to topple the regime.” Banner behind speaker says: “peaceful, peaceful, no to sectarianism”
Deraa / Jassem: “Syrian media is a traitor”
Qamishly protests: Kurds, Christians and Arabs take part
Amudeh Protests: Kurds and Arab march together
Hama Protests / Aboulfida Mosque
Deir Ezzor: Hafiz Assad monument receives shoe treatment
Deir Ezzor: Come out inhabitant of Deir and feast your eyes on this sight
Damascus / Artouz
Damascus / Douma
Damascus / Kisweh
Damascus / Darayyah
Damascus / Tal
Damascus / Zamalka
Damascus / Irbeen
Damascus / Kanaker
Damascus / Sitti Zainab: a mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood
Homs / Bayadeh
Homs / Talbisseh: head of Hafiz Assad statue
Homs / Bab Amr: start of the demonstration
Homs / Talbisseh
Homs / Hamidiyyeh: gunfire
Homs: security car
Homs / TalKalakh
Banyas: people welcome army on April 14 chanting: “people and the army are one hand”
Jusr Ashoughour: protest
Lattakia, Khalid bin Al-Walid
Lattakia / Sleibeh Neighborhood
Deraa City Protests
Deraa City: Banner “Pay Attention: this is Deraa not Israel”
Deraa City: “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa City Protests
Deraa / Izraa’
Deraa / Jassem
Deir Ezzor Protests