Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Come What May!

If we fear change because it could bring with it all sorts of bad possibilities, no good will ever come.

Tuesday July 26, 2011

Mass detention campaign continues throughout Syria, with the latest rounds focusing on the suburbs of Al-Qadam, Midan and Qaboun in Damascus. Current estimates put the total number of detainees so far at 20,000 … UN assigns an observer status on The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, the first Syrian NGO to receive such an honor. The Center is headed by known activist Mazen Darwish … US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen denounces Bashar Al-Assad in an interview with Al-Hurra TV, saying that he who kills his people hastens his own demise …

The bill, approved by the cabinet yet awaiting agreement from Syria's parliament, is the regime's latest concession to protesters. But it includes some restrictions that could limit its impact.
"The streets are completely cut off," said Muhanad, a 24-year-old who asked that his full name not be published. "They don't let anyone come in or out of the city unless they are thoroughly searched. Even the women are not spared this process."
“It shows that the regime is desperate. They realize the security solution isn’t working so they’re trying these Band-Aid measures,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But, he said, “no one’s going to believe that the political system is going to open up when a political party has to be approved by a committee appointed by the regime.”
The State Department highlighted the death of 12-year-old boy Talhat Dalat, who human rights activists said died of his injuries on Saturday after a policeman earlier shot him at close range during an anti-regime rally. "The behavior of Syria's security forces, including other such barbaric shootings, widescale arrests of young men and boys, brutal torture, and other abuses of basic human rights, is reprehensible," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. "President Assad must understand that he is not indispensable, and we believe he is the cause of Syria's instability, not the key to its stability," she said. "The regime should make no mistake that the world is watching, and those responsible will be held accountable for their crimes," she said, repeating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks that Assad has "lost legitimacy."
Beginning in March, a popular uprising has swept through Syria, one of many political upheavals across the Arab world. The uprising is by far the most serious popular challenge to 50 years of authoritarian rule in Syria. On July 22, two senior U.N. advisers, Edward Luck and Francis Deng, announced that “the scale and gravity of the violations indicate a serious possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed in Syria.”
Syrian dissidents have already met in Istanbul, but there has been no gathering of people directly connected to the almost daily protests that have shaken Syria since March 15.
Sherpa and Transparency International France, which earlier this year filed complaints against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Tunisia's ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, said in a statement they wanted the government to make public all of its findings.
The story of a young opposition activist who says he had to flee for his life.
‘We thought that Damascus would ask Hezbollah to launch an attack against Israel to divert attention,’ Levallois said. ‘But the Syrian regime understood that it could loose on all fronts if it did so because it is too weak.’
The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a Syrian network of activists who organize and document anti-government protests in Syria, Tuesday claimed to have evidence suggesting three protest leaders had been killed in targeted attacks based on intelligence and information gathering. LCC said this signaled a move away from indiscriminate fire from Syrian security forces that has characterized efforts to disperse weekly protests. They said Hady al-Jundi, Khalid al-Afnan and Diyaa al-Najjar were killed in separate attacks in Homs this month.

A few individual acts of vendetta and self-defense aside, the Syria Revolution has so far been quite peaceful. Despite the regime’s continuing attempt at instigating confessional strife, the protesters have for the most part managed to avoid falling into this pitfall. Still, there is no denying that the situation is pretty sensitive and tricky, ad that the potential for the revolution to devolve into communal strife is too real. But the only practical thing that can be done here is to continue to infuse an element of reason and pragmatism into the popular daily discussions taking place involving the nature of the change that we want to see in our country. There is no other choice, and there are no magical solutions. And other than taking part in the change, there are no guarantees that can be offered to alleviate anyone’s fears. Conferring a special status on certain segments of the population is exactly what we are fighting against now. Rule of law, respect for basic human rights, a measure of local governance, an electoral system that allows for all different national and religious groups to be represented and to have input in the decision-making process, and enshrining all this in a new constitution is the best that can be done. Going beyond that will not come as a step in the right direction, but as a relapse.  

The stakes have always been high in this regard. The House that Assad built, and the rules that he imposed on all have all but ensured that. Moreover, the nature of the political processes in our societies will ensure that there always be fanatics and people encouraging and using them, and the best we can do in the fight against fanaticism is to first acknowledge the existence of the problem and its extant, especially the fact that it is not restricted to one particular group. We need to be aware as well that the nature of current developments on the ground makes clear that slowing down or going back are not options. Change, drastic change, will have to take place come what may.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of people on the ground, from all different intellectual, political, national and religious backgrounds working tirelessly to bring their communities together around common denominators. Their work is important, and they deserve our support. I remain guardedly optimistic, mainly because I am aware of their existence and their activities, and aware of how much support they actually have among the Syrian people at large. They are the solution.

U.S. Department of State | Remarks by Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo at an Open Security Council Debate on the Situation in the Middle East | Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations | New York, NY | July 26, 2011

Mr. President, let me say a few words about the ongoing crisis in Syria. The world has been inspired by the courage of the peaceful protestors who have taken to the streets across the country to demand their universal rights. The regime has responded with violence, brutality, and mass arrests.

But Syria is clearly headed toward a new political order, shaped by the Syrian people, in which the government will derive its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. A transition to democracy is already underway. President Asad may try to delay this transition, but he cannot stop it, and Syria can never return to the way it was before.

The United States fully supports the Syrian people's demands for a unified Syria with a democratic, representative, and inclusive government that respects basic liberties and provides equal protection under the law for all citizens, regardless of sect, ethnicity or gender. We call on the Syrian government to immediately stop the violence and the arrests and to allow for peaceful protests and freedom of speech. Human rights abuses must end now, and human rights monitors must immediately be granted access to all of Syria. We again call on the Syrian government to permit access to the Fact Finding Mission called for by the UN Human Rights Council in April.

Mr. President the Security Council has a responsibility, to address the situation in Syria and the government's ongoing repression, which could further destabilize Syria and undermine peace and security in the region.

Aleppo / Al-Bab: security forces and pro-Assad militias go on a rampage throughout the city at night The aftermath:

Idlib / Saraqib:
Idlib City: funeral of the protester Rafah Ibadi,  

Tartous: though the images are not clear, this small protest is taking place in the coastal city of Tartous, one of the alleged bastions of support for the Assads

Lattakia: funeral of Hisham Al-Sayyid

Deir Ezzor / Albou Kamal:
Deir Ezzor City:

Al-Qamishly / Amoudeh:

Damascus / Midhat Pasha: a demonstration calling for toppling the regime right in the middle of one of Damascus’s most famous Bazars. Another demonstration took place as well in the nearby spice market (Bzouriyeh):
Damascus / Douma:
Damascus / Zabadani:
Damascus / Kisweh:
Damascus / Jobar:
Damascus / Dmeir: