Friday, July 1, 2011

Shove it!

A U.S. approved plan for change in Syria will not only fail, it will make things worse for all.

Thursday June 30, 2011

Hundreds of protesters take to the streets in Syria’s second largest city of Aleppo …  Dozens of army tanks and hundreds of troops move into new towns and villages in the restive border province of Idlib, including Al-Bara, Kafar Nabol and Kinsafrah, killing 10 residents … Organizers of the Semiramis Conference launch a National Coordination Committee whose membership includes Aref Dalilah, Michel Kilo, Fayiz Sarah and Haitham Al-Maleh (from inside Syria) and Bourhane Ghalyoun, Haitham Manna, Rami Abdurrahman, Zakariyyah Zaqqal and Samir Aita from the Diaspora, among others …


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 US is promoting a "roadmap" for political reforms in Syria which would transform the regime of Bashar al-Assad but leave him in place for now – despite demands for his overthrow during the country's bloody three-month uprising.

Let me be clear and blunt in my usual no holds barred way, even if it makes people angry and is not considered diplomatic:

Approving any plan that keeps Assad in power for any length of time serves only to delay the inevitable while stoking the fires of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial thinking in the ranks of the protesters. It also undermines the repeated calls for keeping the protest movement peaceful as sentiments get more radicalized and people feel ignored, marginalized and betrayed, albeit protest leaders have shown remarkable resolve and restraint in the face of increasing pressures.

Protesters realize, on the basis of their own as well as their parents’ painful experiences, that even if Bashar was kept in power as a mere decorative ornament, the Revolution will still be in danger of getting quashed. For, simply put: Bashar Al-Assad is the symbol of everything that is wrong in Syria today, his political survival, no matter how it is packaged, will ensure the survival of the very system the protesters are out to topple. You cannot expect the protesters to accept an arrangement that basically amount to a betrayal of their evolution for which they have sacrificed so much and continue to sacrifice. The removal of Bashar Al-Assad and Family is the only gateway for real change to take effect, and for getting the trust of the protesters: aiming for less is aiming for nothing.

Some argue that this current approach will not save the regime and is more like a “slow-burn” scenario, as this NPR report explains here in the words of Lebanese analyst Paul Salem:

In a country that has been stable and calm for 30 years, the past four months have been shattering, Salem says. Now, all sides agree it is time for change, and Syrians are aware of the risks.

"People in Syria do not want a civil war. People in Syria do not want to end up like Iraq, or Lebanon or Libya. This is a very, very serious crisis," he says. "Sectarian tensions are very high, tensions between elements of the population and the government, the government has apparently lost, on and off, control of certain towns and cities. It is maybe a slow burn, but it is a decided burn."

A slow burn by design, says Salem, by those trying to push for change without pushing the country into chaos.

While this sounds reasonable, the problem with it is that it won’t work. The Assads are working on a multi-track strategy as always: while one brother negotiates and prepares the ground for a new political arrangement designed to lend him greater legitimacy, the other represses and plans for an even larger bloodier crackdown for when the right moment comes. The slow-burn scenario, if allowed to unfold unchallenged, would more likely apply to the revolution rather than the regime.

But of course, the scenario will not unfold unchallenged, for the street, as a friend of mine put it, “has already transitioned into a post-Assad phase.” The local coordination committees that I have referred to repeatedly in my earlier posts have finally taken over, making people like the organizers of the Semiramis Conference with their precious well-meaning roadmap irrelevant.

“Prominent dissidents in Damascus like Louay Hussein, Aref Dalila and Faez Sara are respected but speak largely for themselves.”

So, why am I so angry if I am so sure that the plan-cum-plot will not work? Because I don’t want America to be caught on the wrong side of history, again. So much of me is Americanized by now, it is hard for me to watch this scenario unfolds again.

Be that as it may, here is where we stand at this stage:

The gist of the campaign currently orchestrated by the Assads and their propagandists focuses on blaming Dounia TV, owned by Rami Makhlouf, for inflaming sectarian sentiments and spreading lies about the protesters, while state-run media, including Syrian TV and SANA, as well as semi-official media, including Day Press, begin running stories and reports sympathetic to the protests, as we see here and here. The resignation of Rami Makhlouf, his departure from the country, and the recent opposition conference can now be put into perspective, everything makes sense now. The plan for containing the Revolution and keeping things as they are with some decorative changes here and there is now unfolding. Bashar, Maher, Assef and Boushra, and most other members of Assad family, not to mention their security goons supervising the current crackdown, will be saved. The regime will, in essence, survive with minimal casualties. Meanwhile, the Assads will play the Semiramis Group against Antalya’s, and will sit back to enjoy the fireworks. That’s the reform that will be imposed on us, with U.S. approval, or so we are told.  

Well, this is what I have to say about this: you can all take this reform package of yours and shove it. I will leave it to the protesters to elaborate on this sentiment tomorrow. The final word rests with the people of Syria. Those who toy with popular sentiments do so at their own peril. Our revolution is just getting started.

Damascus: a newly uploaded video shows savagery of security officers while dealing with unarmed protesters
Aleppo: the first major demonstrations take place in several neighborhoods, only to be met with heavy handed security crackdown
Aleppo: security forces and thugs attacking protesters
Aleppo: security officers and reform-wielding shabbiha gangs demonstrate their love for Assad
Aleppo: security forces and Shabbiha arrest university students
Aleppo: after the daytime crackdown, protesters retake the streets can call for toppling the regime

More defections in the ranks

Deir Ezzor / Alboukamal: “O people of Damascus, here in Alboukamal the regime has fallen”
Hassakeh / Amoudeh: Kurdish residents hold a vigil

Idlib / Idlib City:
Idlib / Sarmeen

Hama / Hama City:

Homs / Inshaat Neighborhood

Damascus / Arbeen