Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Turmoil in the Lion’s Lair!

Several Alawite villages join the protest movement, while Douma and Homs Seethe, Deraa and Banyas maintain their unofficial independence.    

As Douma set about burying its martyrs, condoled by thousands of supporters pouring from nearby suburbs, and as arrests continue to mount in Homs, Deraa and Aleppo, where arrests are meant to preempt revolution, reports from the Alawite strongholds in the mountains of Lattakia indicate that all is not well in what should be the bastion of loyalty to Assad rule.  

Indeed, despite arrests and intimidation, Douma witnessed massive funeral marches in support of the Friday’s martyrs, with inhabitants of nearby suburbs showing up to show their support. Tomorrow, Tuesday, which will mark the end of the three-day mourning period, could witness renewed clashes as people take to the streets to demand holding those responsible for the massacres accountable.

Meanwhile, Deraa got a new Governor, a retired Lieutenant General by the name of Muhammad Khalid Al-Hannous. Al-Hannous is originally from Hama, but spent most of his military service in Deraa. His familiarity with the city and its tribal structure, and his military background, the regime hopes will help him assert central control in a place that is currently under effective autonomous rule. But what the regime sees as assets, the people are likely to see as new offenses: military background! Not from Deraa! Now that’s a regime that’s in-tune with its people.

As for Lattakia, it seems that the Assad smuggling gangs, AKA “the Shabbiha,” have outworn their welcome in certain villages, especially those affiliated with the Kana’an family. Members from both clans are reported to have exchange gunfire near the village of Qneinees, resulting in a number of causalities. Nearby villages are said to have rushed to aid the Kanaan clan. But by end of the day, and aided by local security apparatuses, the Assad gang seems to have had the upper hand, many members of the Kan’an family are reported to be under arrest. No figure on casualties is available.

The Kanaa’ family feud with the Assad clan dates back to mid-2005 when their man Ghazi Kanaan, then Minister of Interior and a vocal critic of Bashar in army circles, committed suicide by shooting himself multiple times in the back of the head. The clan must have sensed that it was time for a payback.

Meanwhile, there are reports of major outreach efforts between members of the Murshidiyyah, an Alawite sect with its own separate religious institutions, and Lattakia Sunni notables, in an attempt to bring the tense situation in the city under control. It’s not clear so far if this activity will lead to containing the local protests or enlarging them.

The situation in Lattakia and the nearby Mounts is a very hard situation to monitor, but we will continue to sift through reported as they come looking for signs of things to come. But tomorrow will likely belong to Douma and its all too public protests.

Videos from Douma

The Funerary Processions of April 3: (13-mintes local quality video)
“Syrian Media Lies” “Where Are You Sniper? Syrian People Cannot Be Trampled Upon” “People Want to Topple the Regime” “Today’s Your Wedding, O Martyr? “Where are the Gangs?” “O Maher Assad, Your head Will Be Lowered Forever” “We Seek Freedom Peacefully” “We Want To Speak Openly: We don’t To See Rami Makhlouf” “The One Who Kills His Owen People Is A Traitor”
High Quality Videoclips of the Same Procession
“He Who Kills His Own People Is A Traitor”
Douma, Prayers for the Fallen
Funerary Procession
“He Who Kills His Own People Is A Traitor” “Allah, Freedom, Syria and Nothing More” “One Hand One Hand”
“People Want To Topple The Regime”
Douma: Taking down a new Assad banner
The following reports are taken from Syria’s official news channel, Al-Akhbariyyah. None of the reports shows the actual size of the crowd or any of the banners they’re carrying, or acknowledges that protesters have been killed, as the official line accuses protesters of faking videos showing injured and dead. The people speaking to the camera make specific complaints about living conditions, price of animal feed and gasoline, bad roads, inability to get license to build new houses or extensions and corruption. Many express love and loyalty to Assad. The second video below actually shows a person demanding freedom of all prisoners of conscience, the third and fourth videos show people acknowledging that prisoners from Douma were released, which is a blatant lie, and so on. By mixing lies with truths, an covering up the actual size and extant of the protests, Syrian authorities hope to trivialize the matter and lend credence to their own accusations that a conspiracy is involved and that foreign media is blowing the events out of proportions.   

Miscellaneous Videos

People Trample on Bashar’s Posers
Deir Ezzor: “No To Emergency and Terrorism Laws” “Sit-Ins Until the Regime Falls” “Peacefully, We Are Seeking Freedom” “No To Arbitrary Arrests” “Syria Is Free, Let the Oppressor Leave”
Homs: Arrests

Interviews
"The administration still seems like it's seeking to engage Assad," said Ammar Abdulhamid, a leading Syrian democracy activist based in Washington. "I don't see the point at this stage, as Assad has shown his true colors by engaging in such violence."  Syrian democracy activists are calling for U.N. action as well as sanctions targeting the top members of Assad's government. Senior U.S. officials wouldn't discuss the possibility of new sanctions on Syria. They acknowledged Western countries have been discussing a possible special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, a move taken during the Libya crisis.