Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inglorious Bastards, with a Syrian Twist!

As the Assad-orchestrated crackdown takes place, the statements made by Assad officials proclaiming victory, make it clear that the Assads are not waging war against protesters only, but reality itself.   

As Assad wages his reforms upon an unarmed population and his First lady teeters on the heels of her Louboutin shoes, protesters cannot but surrender themselves to the guttural urges of defiance.  

Monday 9, 2011
There are currently 12 security checkpoints on the road from Damascus to Lattakia. Lattakia itself is filled with checkpoints and army barricades. No one is allowed in or out of Banyas. Only residents are allowed in and out of Jableh. Basic services in Deraa City, Banyas, major sections of Homs, Deir Ezzor, and the Damascene suburb of Mouaddamiyyeh are still down. There are no clear reports yet from Mouaddamiyyeh as to the exact nature of heavy gunfire and shelling overheard yesterday. The few reports we have spoke of “numerous” casualties, house-to-house man-hunt and hundreds of detentions, troops taking control of all local mosques, and fire raging in several locations. 


Perhaps when the Presidential Advisor Bouthaini Shaaban speaks of “gaining the upper-hand” and of “containing the crisis” in the country, she’s simply referring to the recent success of the Assads in tightening their grip on the flow of information from Syria. But the demonstrable truth is that the Assads control doesn’t extend far beyond the shadows of their tanks and security officers. True, they took control of Deraa City, but they still don’t feel confident enough to allow UN humanitarian mission to pay a visit to the beleaguered place. Meanwhile, all other towns and villages in the Horan province (the Deraa Governorate) remain in a defiant mood with people holding daily protests calling for toppling the regime, and refuting official lies about armed gangs and infiltrators. Naturally, due to the absence of any security officers or army troops in these places, no violence has been reported. People are clearly safer and more secure in the absence of army and security officers in their midst – a clear sign as to the true identity of the infiltrators, who might just come aknocking soon.


For perhaps the Assads are not that far gone, and have not completely surrender themselves to that parallel reality yet, perhaps they do realize that the situation is still very much beyond their control and that the crackdown has not yet delivered the desired fruits, perhaps their statements are meant to stall and to fool whoever is willing to be fooled in the international community, perhaps that’s why they sent their troops to lay siege to another rebellious town in Horan yesterday: Jassem, and by default the nearby Ankhel as well.


Whatever the case maybe, if these kinds of statements are meant in any way to dampen the spirit of protesters, they are bound to fail, just like the crackdown itself is failing.


Damascus / Arnous Square: A small demonstration by 250 protesters was quickly broken up by security officers and many arrests were made. The video shows how security officers stopped, interrogated some of the protesters, and arrested some.

Deraa / Jassem & Ankhel: tanks and troops take up position at the outskirt of the city.

Deraa / Ankhel: protest leaders read statements saying that they have not invited the army and security forces to their community, and there are no armed gangs. This is meant to call out the lies official media that army intervention was demanded by residents of Deraa City to save them from Salafist gangs.

Homs: a tank in the middle of Barazil Street, one of the busiest in the city.

Al-Ghab / Hawash Village: this small village of few hundreds has fielded another small protest with children and women playing he major role. The point is: the protest movement is not localized and has a wide support basis all over the country. Its fires will rage on until the demands are met.

Hama: tanks on way from Homs to Hama

Damascus / Kisweh: funeral for Mouadh Fadli

Lattakia / Ramle: small demonstration on May 8.

Deir Ezzor / May 8: security officers
Homs / May 9: Tanks in the streets is the only to keep things under control for Assad
Jisr Ashoughour / May 8: funerals. “The people want to topple the regime”
Hama / May 9: funeral
Homs / May 9: shops closed in protest of army take-over, despite calls by local officials for people to go about their normal daily lives. Their normal daily routine over the last few weeks have focused on protest and defiance, not exactly what officials have in mind.
The fact that Syrian intelligence officers are adept at staging fake confessions is well-known in Syria. Indeed, a TV comedy show spoke openly of this a few years ago. Here is a scene. The viewers who followed the show know that the people confessing to being Salafist terrorists are actually a hedonist lot who have been coerced into making these confessions following a series of “comedic” misadventures. The video is in Arabic but the setting is pretty revealing. The show also reveals the duplicity of Syrian media in this, as people were pretty aware of the fake nature of the confessions they were hearing.
Now this is an “actual” confession where the two people interviewed admit to smuggling funds, sat phones, cameras as well as food and medical supplies to the protesters, sent by Syrian businessmen from the Sankar family who left the country in 2003 following a well-documented dispute with Rami Makhlouf who tried to coerce them into relinquishing their contract to represent Mercedes in Middle East. The confessions though seem more damning of Syrian authorities than the businessmen themselves. Because the authorities have been speaking about smuggling rings involving weapons and drugs, and yet the best they could do is implicate these businessmen of smuggling “sat phones, cameras and food and medical supplies.”