Sunday, July 3, 2011

Marching on to the beat of different drums!

Bashar Al-Assad talks reforms, practices mayhem.  

Saturday July 2, 2011

Official death toll from Friday rises to 31: Damascus (2), Homs (8), Idlib (19 / 6 in Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, 7 in Al-Rami, 4 in Kafar Maya, 1 in Sanqoul,1, 1 in Al-Sarjah), Lattakia (1) and Aleppo (1)… Assad sacks Hama Governor, Ahmad Khalid Abdulazeez, for failure to control the situation in the city … State begins deducting 500 Syrian pounds out of employees’ monthly salaries as an “automatic donation” to support the pound …

The sacking was seen as the latest attempt by Al Assad to weed out potential weak links in his ruling system and possibly signal a renewed crackdown on the city.
“President Bashar al-Asad’s promises of new laws allowing more political participation ring hollow when security forces are still above the most basic laws,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
Yaser Tabbara may live half a world away from Syria, where he grew up. But as the uprising there continues, the Chicago lawyer has mounted a one-man legal and diplomatic assault against the Syrian regime to highlight the brutality of its response and help depose President Bashar al-Assad.
The work Monitor Group did with Asma al-Assad was naive in light of Syria’s crackdown on protests, critics say.

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 current gambit for the Assads: Make a show of confidence to garner support for the upcoming reform package that will effectively leave them in charge. This is what Bashar and Asmaa’s first public appearance together since the beginning of the Revolution is meant to invoke. The sales pitch is being made, and the media blitz meant to facilitate it is under way.

But of course, since the plan is to reassert control not lose it, Hama City needs to be brought under control, again.

Around 300 tanks are currently on their way to Hama to reassert Assad control over the restive city and its suburbs
Hama City: protesters march on Saturday to reiterate their commitment to Assad’s departure
Hama City: protesters on evening of July 2nd sing and tell Bashar to “leave,” on account of the rampant corruption of his family and his officials, and the blood of the martyrs that has been spilled.

Meanwhile, Syrian state TV continues to speak of armed gangs, blaming all violence on them.

Bearing all this in mind, and with 31 deaths reported on Friday, what did exactly change in terms of tactics to warrant all this chatter in international quarters regarding Bashar’s intentions to introduce “serious” reforms? Someone must be reading some interesting hasheesh leaves.

It took them a while, as usual, but the Assads seem to have finally landed on a coherent strategy, one that focuses on playing up the reform card through certain acts of showmanship and political theater designed to attract the attention of international media, while the violent crackdown continues in the background.

The shift to this strategy is a sign of weakness, nonetheless, and that’s a message to the protesters to keep the pressures on and keep marching on. It’s all about the will to stay the course now.

Homs City: Activist with camera gets shot by a security officer. In the beginning, the activist says that security officers are firing at people in the streets even though there are no demonstrations. Few seconds later, he himself gets shot as he catches a security officer on camera pointing a gun at him from a street corner.
Homs City: scenes from yesterday’s crackdown
Ambulances used to detain protesters
Damascus / Harasta: “There is no god but God, Assad is the enemy of God” “the people want to topple the regime” “Say it loud: we either live in dignity or we perish”
Damascus / Dmeir
Damascus / Douma: security men confiscating bikes
Homs City / Qusour
Homs City: funeral
Deir Ezzor City / Madlaji Square
Deir Ezzor / Mayadeen
Deir Ezzor / Alboukamal