Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Counter-Reform!

For all the talk of reform by Assad and his officials, his steps indicate a further retrenchment and a deepening of the crisis. The worst is yet to come.

Wednesday June 29, 2011

Syrian troops storm new villages on the Turkish borders killing 16 unarmed residents: 8 in Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, 4 in Rami, 2 in Mar-Ayan, 1 in Sarjah and I in Kafar Haya … The storming of Rami follows on the heel of a vigil in which over 2,000 local residents took part … The US Treasury imposes sanctions on Syria's Political Security Directorate for human rights abuses ... Protesters across Syria burn their utility bills today as a new act of civil disobedience and noncooperation with evil …  

"All of this violence comes a day after the regime said they would invite political opponents to discuss a framework for political reform in July. We do not accept invitations from murderers," said a member of the Syrian Local Coordination Committee, the uprising's main activist group, who preferred to remain anonymous.
They differ over how to interpret the government’s decision there, asking whether the departure points to a government attempt to avoid casualties and another potentially explosive clash in a restive country, or to an exhausted repressive apparatus stretched too thin.
(Reuters) - Syria's economy, reeling from three months of unrest, faces currency pressures that could deplete reserves and undermine President Bashar al-Assad's chances of political survival, businessmen and diplomats said.
(Reuters) - A growing number of Syrian soldiers are deserting the army to avoid taking part in the military crackdown against protesters demanding the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Attend the Nation’s Largest Rally in Solidarity with the Syrian People – July 3rd 4:00pm - 7:00pm, Downtown Chicago, 232 Ohio St. Chicago, IL

The Obama Administration may not want to recall its Ambassador to Syria, but at least they can stop the misinformation and intimidation campaign launched by Assad’s Ambassador Imad Mustapha against the Syrian –American community. The Syria Accountability Act provides for that but, for some reason, the provision calling for restricting the movement and activities of the Ambassador has not been implemented. It should be borne in mind that Assad’s Ambassador to London, Sami Khiyami, got summoned and warned yesterday and he's not half as active as Mustapha.

Mustapha rallying the Assad troops in Michigan
In this event, Mustapha speaks of reform and dialogue while condemning the phantom armed groups his president conjured since the beginning of the Revolution. Moreover, as the second clip below shows, the event was organized by Syrian Christians and the Lebanese Shia community in Dearborn, Michigan (read Hezbollah supporters). That shouldn’t be surprising of course. The only two cards that the regime still has in its position is: sectarianism and the alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. As such, for all talk of reform by Assad and his officials, stoking sectarian fires and furthering his alliance with terrorist entities come not as signs of reform, but of further entrenchment and a deepening of the crisis. 

On Kucinich’s Visit to Syria:

Congressman Kucinich may want us to believe that he was misquoted by Assad’s state-run media, but, be that as it may, his actual views on the situation are completely misguided and are conducive neither to reform, nor peace, nor democracy, nor anything but empowering a regime that is killing its own people. We are quite fortunate that most congressmen do not share his views.

This is how the Congressman’s visit and views were exploited by Assad media:

U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who is visiting Syria, called on the international community to lift the sanctions on Syria, to support its economy, and to assist in transforming it into a free, democratic country.

Kucinich warned that the Syrian crisis would have negative implications on the region and the world. He praised steps taken by the regime and claimed that President Assad is working to create a new Syria, and that oppositionists in the country are free to speak their minds.

He also called on the media to not dramatize the events, and said that the Syrian situation is different from that of Egypt or Tunisia because the Syrian people want Assad to enact the reforms.

The Syrian daily Al-Watan, which is close to the regime, reported that the visit was organized by the Syrian Embassy in the U.S. "as part of a campaign intended to relieve external pressure on the regime, and allow it to present its position."

Source: Al-Watan, SANA News Agency (Syria), June 29, 2011.

This is the Washington Post’s take on the matter:

NYT does again with talk about insurgents without providing any corroboration. I said it before and I say it again, a few people getting together to arm themselves with a few hunting rifles and a Kalashnikov or two do not make an armed insurgent group. American officials’ word is not sacrosanct, they are not exactly above making wrong and foolish inferences, or reiterating an ideological line, especially when they speak on condition of anonymity. So, if there is someone out there who actually have proof to offer of the existence of Syrian armed groups worthy of the name, other than the pro-Assad shabbiha that is, let him out now!

“Syrian officials played down the idea that the departure of government forces suggested a void in their authority. Since the beginning of the uprising, the government has said that much of the violence has occurred in clashes with armed opponents and, indeed, American officials have corroborated the existence of insurgents in some areas in Syria.”

Idlib / Jisr Ashoughour: a makeshift pharmacy
Turkish Border / Rayhaniyyeh Refugee Camp / June 28: an anti-Assad protest
An Appeal to Asmaa Al-Assad to join the Revolution: no one is holding his breath of course, but the whole mystic surrounding Asmaa should underscore the need in the West for expecting more of Middle Eastern leaders than sporting pretty westernized wives and employing honeyed words before they are considered reformers.
Damascus / Madaya: a funeral
Damascus / Douma: local women demonstrate and chant “We want freedom” and “One who kills his own people is a traitor”
Damascus / Saqba
Homs / Rastan: protesters chant “Damn your soul Hafiz (Al-Assad)”
Deraa / Al-Jizah: “the people want to topple the regime”
Idlib / Kafar Nabol / June 28: people take control of their city and organize a meeting for the local committee. “The people want to topple the regime”
Homs / Rastan: an old video of an army tanks destroying motorcycles belonging to local residents during the incursion that took place three weeks ago.
Hama City: Baccalaureate students demonstrate while waiving the independence flag

Vigils: The most common chants heard throughout are of course: “the people want to topple the regime” “Get out Bashar”

Deir Ezzor City: over 50,000 people chanted “Abu Hafiz (i.e. Bashar Al-Assad) sold out the Golan”. The fireworks shown in the third video highlight the festive ambience. Army and security forces have completely pulled out from the city and surroundings. Other chants “Long live Syria, and down with Assad the Dog”
Hama City: a similar situation prevails in Hama City and environs as well.
Deir Ezzor /Alboukamal: a similar situation prevails.
Damascus / Qaboun: the first video actually shows the people burning their utility bills
Damascus / Saqba
Damascus / Al-Qadam
Damascus / Midan:
Damascus / Madaya
Homs / Al-Waer Neighborhood
Homs / Rastan
Homs / Hawleh
Hama / Kafar Zita
Hama / Hilfaya
Idlib City: despite the crackdown taking place in this restive province, protests were still organized in several communities, including the capital.
Idlib / Banash: “Syria ours and does not belong to the Assads” “By a show of hands, we Syrians don’t want Assad”