Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mutiny Still Unconfirmed But Continued Defiance Is!

Reports of mutiny in ranks among army divisions sent to Deraa City keep pouring in from myriad eyewitness sources, but the extant thereof and the details of what exactly is involved remain murky.

Death toll: 474 List of names (Arabic) Cities and communities under siege: Deraa City, Douma, Jableh, Banyas, Homs, Mouddamiyyeh, Hama. Cities and communities where protests, sit-in and vigils took place today: Jassem, Ankhel, Homs, Lattakia, Banyas, Amoudeh, Tal, Zabadani. Cities and communities where communications were cut off: Deraa, Douma. Cities and communities where basic services, including water and electricity, were cut off: Deraa City.

Something is surely happening in Deraa City, something that, in common parlance, is often referred to as a “massacre.” To be specific: a massacre of unarmed civilians by security forces and soldiers working for the Assads: Syria’s ruling crime family.

The inhabitants of Deraa tell horrifying stories of streets strewn with the bodies of the dead that residents are unable to retrieve for fear of meeting the same fate, and of living in complete darkness and destitution as basic services, including water and electricity have been cut off by the invading Assad armies, who continue to lay siege to the city preventing the arrival of much needed food and medical supplies. Still, the eyewitnesses we have managed to talk to tell of brave stories of people defying army tanks with rocks, and smuggling food and water from the nearby Palestinian refugee camps. The Palestinians may not have Syrian citizenship, but have been living here since 1948, in fact, most have been born here, and to them Deraa residents are brothers, and the idea of taking a neutral stance vis-à-vis current developments seems unconscionable.

But the fog of war overlaying the city is also giving birth to addicting reports of mutiny in the ranks, pitting one army division against another. The reports tell of few defections from the ranks of the 5th Division mushrooming into a full-fledged mutiny, when few high-ranking officers decided that defecting is not enough and that they had a duty to protect the city and its unarmed residents from vicious assault of pro-Assad troops making up the 4th Division and lead by none other than Maher Al-Assad, the brother of the titular president.

But the reports don’t stop here, but go on to tell of the capture or at least trapping of Maher Al-Assad, and one Rustom Ghazali, the acting chief of political security assigned to deal with the protests in Deraa. Al-Jazeerah Arabic even aired eyewitness testimony confirming some aspects of this, while the Syrian opposition channel, Barada TV, seemed to endorse the reports as factual. Facebook chat groups are naturally abuzz at this stage.

Considering the volatility of the current situation and that these kind of reports are nt exactly unusual in these circumstance, one is tempted to dismiss them in their entirety. But it should be borne in mind that the reports of the mutiny itself have been around for 48 hours now, and seeing how serious such a development would prove to be to the Assads, and the fact that the protestr movement is banking on splitting the army, if not winning it whole over to their side, Alawites and all, the fact that this report is allowed to circulated unchallenged for so long lends it some credibility.

Other than the massacres perpetrated by Assad thugs, there are some strange goings-on in Deraa that seem to warrant further investigations.

Be that as it may, the show force in Deraa, and another one in the Damascene suburb of Douma, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale, did not prevent protesters from keeping up the daily routine of showing solidarity, defying odds and snipers, and demanding end to Assad rule.

The Ramleh Neighborhood in Lattakia has witnessed such a protest, but, and according to eyewitness reports, it was quickly and violently put down by security forces and Shabbiha gangs. The situation somewhat was more peaceful in other parts of Syria, including the Damascene suburbs of Tal and Zabadani, other towns and cities in Deraa Province, including Jassem and Ankhel, as well as the cities of Banyas, Amoudeh and Homs.

It’s as though protesters throughout Syria are telling the Assads to take their security forces, unofficial militias and loyal army divisions and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine, pardon my Syrian.  

Damascus / Jobar-Zamalka Bridge: security officers and snipers
Damascus / Zabadani: demonstration in support of besieged communities. Chants: “the people want to topple the regime” “We choose death over humiliation” “Listen Bashar, the blood of martyrs is not for sale”
Damascus / Tal: high-school students stage small demonstration. Chants: “Freedom, Freedom” “We’re marching towards heaven as millions of martyrs”
Deraa: women, in the quieter parts of town, protest demanding lifting of the siege, and chanting “the people and the army are one hand”
Deraa / Jassem: sit-in in solidarity with Deraa City. The imam of the nearby city of Izraa explains how the massacre took place, says army troops just opened fire unprovoked.
“Lift the siege, Lift the siege”
“the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa / Ankhel: protest in support of Deraa City. Chants: “We choose death over humiliation”
Banias: demonstration in support of Deraa and in defiance of military, security and Shabbiha
Amoudeh: Kurdish silent demonstration in support of besieged cities. Banners: “Stop the massacres” “we persevere for Deraa’s sake”
Homs / Bab Amr: demonstration in support of besieged cities
Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa: demonstration in support of besieged cities. Chants: “Listen Bashar, the Syrian people are all lions” “We choose death over humiliation”