Friday, June 17, 2011

Of Empty Gestures!

Rami’s is not the resignation we had in mind, and it won’t suffice.   

Thursday June 16, 2011

Rami Makhlouf, Bashar Al-Assad’s cousin and “unofficial” business manager, announces his “retirement” from business and says that he will donate his share in Syriatel to charity, protesters couldn’t be more indifferent… residents of the city of Missyaf, a mixed Alawite and Ismailiate community, issued a statement calling on the army to stop killing peaceful protesters, refrain from promoting sectarianism in Missyaf and across Syria, and to prepare for a peaceful handover of power in order to protect the country from foreign intervention….  State Department says it has increased its contacts with opposition members inside and outside Syria… Protesters keep organizing nightly vigils all over the country in preparation for Friday’s protests dedicated to Saleh Al-Ali, the Alawite revolutionary who fought against French occupation.

For months, as Mr. Assad has used violence to try to quell the unrest, Mr. Makhlouf helped project the government’s grip on control. In May, he insisted that the Syrian leadership would “fight to the end.” But a news conference in Damascus on Thursday, Mr. Makhlouf said he was halting his business activities and directing profits from his 40 percent stake in Syriatel to charity.
Just three months ago it would have been unthinkable to have even criticized him and Assad told businessmen last year, before the uprising against him: "I wish Syria had 10 Rami Makhloufs."
The 45-year-old president is relying increasingly on the army, whose command and many senior officers are drawn from his minority Alawite sect, in a military campaign seen as targeting protesters drawn mainly from the majority Sunni community.
Along with the 8,500 refugees staying in camps on the Turkish side, to whom access is forbidden for Amnesty International, I was told there are thousands of Syrians camped just beyond the border living in desperate conditions. This is where I would attempt to go.
As young Syrians, we have always treated the Assads as something of a holy family… Now, the voices of freedom are sounding louder than the engines of armored vehicles and the whistling of tanks shells. Bashar Assad thought that the military would intimidate and quiet the protesters, but the shout “Bashar must go!” is only getting louder.
New information gathered by Amnesty International in recent days indicates that eight men whose bodies were delivered to their families at the end of May died in custody after being apprehended during last month’s military crackdown on the western town of Tell Kalakh.
Syria's military expanded its reach to a fourth border by deploying forces to the remote towns of Deir el-Zour province near the frontier with Iraq, a volatile tribal area, stretching the capacity of its military.
Holland’s embassy in Beirut confirmed that the pair had been snatched on May 24 in broad daylight before being driven “against their will” into Syria along a public road north of Baalbek, in the Bekaa Valley.
The actress and U.N. refugee agency goodwill ambassador is expected to arrive in Istanbul Friday, and will immediately travel to Hatay.
Listen to the sounds of the real struggle from real people. But don't lose your trust with those trying to create a real movement in Syria's LGBT community — we need your help now more than ever. Don't let some dude pecking away at a keyboard in the dark in the comfort of his house in Scotland take your attention away from the real story.

Briefly noted:

1)       On the resignation of Rami Makhlouf, AKA Father Teresa: We want to topple the regime, not give it a facelift.
2)      Armed Salafsit gangs don’t burry the bodies of their victims in some anonymous mass grave, rather, they take videos of their own killings and post them on YouTube themselves for maximum impact and publicity. Then they would leave the bodies in the streets for the dogs as a further sign of disdain. This has been their established behavior pattern in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
3)      Armed Salafist gangs wouldn’t waste hours trying to dislodge a statue of Hafiz Al-Assad by hand or by using a bulldozer, they’d rather blow it up with a few sticks of dynamite, or a little bit of C4?
4)      After more than 15,000 arrests since the beginning of the revolution, Assad security forces have so far failed to produce any single credible evidence of the existence of armed Salafist gangs. A hapless video testimony by some unknown individual every now and then might be enough for Assad loyalists and state-run media, but they only serve to argue the opposite case in the minds of objective observers.
5)      So far Assad’s propagandists have failed to produce a single video of an actual combat against these armed Salafist gangs, despite the fact they have allegedly been fighting them for over three months now.
6)      Message from residents of the Occupied Golan to Bashar Al-Assad: We’ve been waiting for 40 years for your father then you to liberate us from the armed gangs that have been terrorizing us, yet, and after all this wait, you send your tanks to Deraa, Rastan and Jisr Ashoughour and you send us a few hapless unarmed Palestinian kids!?

Idlib / Saraqib: the city comes under heavy fire at night, as fire rages in several locations. “Saraqib is on fire, save the people,” the cameraman says.
Idlib / Kafar Nabol: residents take to the streets in support of Jisr Ashoughour and against planned army incursion in their midst
Idlib / Mouarrat Al-Nouman: tanks lay siege to Mouarrat
Homs / Assad militias practice collective torture: they leave detained protesters in the sun for hours to induce thirst, then, they make them chant “God, Syria, Bashar” to get a sip of water.
Alboukamal: after days of media silence, we finally get this video from Alboukamal. It seems that residents can still take to the streets and protest, despite presence of army tanks around the city and in certain neighborhoods, as they hold this vigil in preparation for Friday’s protests.
Aleppo University: “the people want to topple the regime” “Leave, leave”
Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa: a funeral for an activist who died under torture
Homs / Al-Qousour: Assad militias terrorizing local residents
Damascus / Douma: an all-women protest “the people want to topple the regime”
“Leave, Leave.” Banner: “the people want to try the children-killers”
“Peaceful, Peaceful, Freedom, Freedom”
Damascus / Mouaddamiyyah: protesters responding to the resignation of Rami Makhlouf: “It is what it is (i.e. nothing has changed), down with Baath Rule.” “We don’t love you, leave us and take your party with you”
Protester tells crowd that Dunia TV says that the people of Mouaddamiyyeh are asking for army intervention, people burst out saying: “Syrian Media lie”
Damascus / Kafar Sousseh: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Qatana: anti-Assad vigil
Damascus / Darayyah: anti-Assad vigil
Damascus / Qaboun: anti-Assad vigil
Damascus / Al-Tall: anti-Assad vigil
Homs: protester preparing banners for Friday’s protests: “Congratulations to the Turkish people with the victory of Mr. Erdogan” “UN, Arab League, what’s your position on the mass murders taking place?” “Syria from North to South cry out: Leave, Leave” “Bashar’s reforms: shelling, forced relocation, siege, humiliation, insult, destruction”  “O honest grandchildren of Saleh Al-Ali, you are our brothers and partners in this homeland”
Homs / Al-Qarabees: Banner “the people want to topple the regime”
Deir Ezzor / Qouriyyah: “Bashar listen, we only kneel before our Lord”
Hama City: Tanks make their appearance at the city
Hama City: protesters shout “the people want to topple the regime” as one of them pretends to fire at them using a toy assault rifle!
Deraa / Al-Mseifrah: Mother of the martyred child Thamer Al-Sharyee recounts the story of his death to an audience of women protesters. She also addresses the regime and says “your message has reached us, and you will be hearing our answer”
Deraa City: “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa: troops on the way to Damascus
Raqqah: a woman activist surrounded by colleagues addresses the camera and says that they will be joining the protests tomorrow in solidarity with womenfolk all over Syria who are being abused by Assad thugs: “the people want to topple the regime.”
Banyas: anti-Assad vigil