Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thank Goodness It’s Ford-Day!

After Hama, Damascus seems the next likely flashpoint.   

Just in: eyewitnesses from Hama City report that a 40-day old baby is currently being held by security officers as a hostage until his mother agrees to divulge the whereabouts of her husband, who is wanted on suspicion of taking part in the protests.

Saturday July 9, 2011

U.S. and French Ambassadors pay a visit to Hama City spurring Assad officials to accuse of cavorting with saboteurs. This gesture notwithstanding, Friday witnessed the killing of 13 protesters albeit none in Hama City itself. Most of the fatalities took place in Damascus and its suburbs indicating the growing pressure on the country’s capital.

Protests By the Numbers: 1650 dead … 12,000 detained … 60,000 who have been briefly detained then released … 300 major communities playing active role in the protest movements throughout the country.

The Obama administration has resisted calls for it to push strongly for Bashar Assad's ouster. Instead, it is essentially trying to help arrange a slow unraveling of the Syrian regime rather than an abrupt collapse.
If current trends persist in Syria, the regime may be forced to deploy army units that are unable or unwilling to continue the brutal crackdown.
(Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people rallied in the Syrian city of Hama on Friday, calling for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad, as Western envoys visited the city to show support for protesters.
Rights group releases testimonies of defectors from security forces who say they took part in crackdown on protests.
He is the founder of an underground illegal network of medics, who call themselves the "Damascus Doctors". They established a Facebook page, their intent not only to save lives, but also the doctor says, to expose the regime's crimes.
The footage showing a lone gunman shooting randomly before turning his fire on the cameraman is too raw not to be real.
DAMASCUS, July 9 (Xinhua) -- It appears that Syria's once- flourishing soap opera industry is losing its glory and sliding into a recession after Arab television networks and satellite channels declined to buy Syrian soaps in retaliation for Syrian actors' positions towards the country's current political crisis.
The story of the song's author -- Ibrahim Kashoush -- took a sad turn with news that he may have been killed in a protest last Friday in Hama. Reporting out of Syria is hard to verify these days, but one Lebanese news site said his body was reportedly dumped in a nearby river Wednesday morning.
Syrian refugee Ahmed Sidawy tells Fox News how he almost died in a violent clash with government troops.

“Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right” – Rudyard Kipling
White House demonstration to support Syrian people rights to freedom (July 23)

So much for talk of Salafist elements and armed gangs! For if such was the case, then, these people have just missed out on a golden opportunity to target two high-ranking western officials.

Moreover, the protesters have just shown how easy it is for Western governments to win them over and to make this a pro-Western revolution and not simply an Anti-Assad one. What happened on Friday in Assy Square was an amazing historic movement: the protesters who mere days ago had burnt the Iranian and Hezbollah flags receive An America ambassador with flowers and olive branches, and they did it spontaneously, they were not told to do it. This is what being on the right of history and doing it the right way gets you.

A while back I have argued against the continuing presence of Ambassador Ford among other western ambassadors in Syria, but now, thanks to this brave move, they have made a strong counter argument, and have shown us all how their presence can indeed be useful. What is needed now is consistency.

It is much easier in Damascus now to speak of the neighborhoods that have not joined the protest movement rather than those that have. The Beltway has gone the protest way since the first few weeks, and many of the traditional districts in or near Old Damascus have followed suit. At this stage, it is pretty hard to tell who’s exactly laying siege to whom. But there is no doubt as to who is perpetrating the violence: the security officers and the Shabbiha. The cold blooded killing of a protester by a security officer on Friday who shot him in the head with a pistol at close range for simply shouting “the people want to topple the regime” is likely to inflame the situation further. As everyone watches Hama and Deir Ezzor, Damascus itself is becoming the next likely battleground.

Damascus / Midan / July 9: protesters hold a night-time demonstration asserting that in their neighborhood the regime has indeed fallen, and carrying banners rejecting any dialogue with it, and asserting that “death is better than humiliation”
On Friday, thousands of security officers took part in the violent crackdown against protesters chanting “the people want to topple the regime”
But the protesters outnumber the security officers and drive them out after they killed one of their comrades. They run away with their hand guns drawn.
The fallen protester Ahmad Dakkak who was shot at point blank range most likely by the security officer seen running in the videos above.
Removing a poster of Assad from the banner of a local girl’s school
Damascus / Qaboun / July 9: a night-time vigil turn into an anti-Assad festival with protesters delivering speeches and shouting “Down with Bashar Al-Assad”
On July 8, thousands held a major demonstration with over 30,000 protesters chanting “Death is better than humiliation”

Damascus / Dmeir / July 8: protesters come under gunfire leaving 6 dead. One can be seen here carried away by his comrades.
Damascus / Dmeir / July 8: security officers fill the streets hours after their violent crackdown.
This is a video of the sermon given by the famous sheikh and Assad loyalist, Ramdan Al-Bouti, on July 8. His sermons used to be attended by thousands of worshippers before the Revolution, only a handful can be seen. This footage is taken from state TV. Al-Bouti is railing against a “revolution led by an American Ambassador.” If anyone wants a clearer testament as to how the Damascene Middle Class really feels about the Revolution, the abandonment of this Mosque speaks volume.
Damascus / Darayyah / July 8: protesters stand to security forces as they come under fire and tear gas
Damascus / Ruknaddine / July 8: protesters stone security officers out of their neighborhoods
Earlier, protesters chanted against Assad Cult.

More Damascus videos below

Homs / Rastan / July 9: the sound of sporadic gunfire heard throughout the night. Eyewitnesses it comes from a battle taking place between security forces and defecting army troops.
Rastan had witnessed major demonstrations on Friday as usual.

Deir Ezzor / Al-Qouriyyeh: doctors operate under difficult conditions to treat bullet wounds

Hama City / July 9: despite the visit by US and French Ambassadors, the city remains under army siege, with tanks seen all over the main entrances.
(Graphic) Two dead protesters killed by heavy weapons from a tank.
Meanwhile, the City remains on strike
A funeral at Teebat Al-Imam
Protesters mock regime claims of being saboteurs and American agents by showing off this gift: an advanced air defense hardware that cost a ¼ of the U.S. national budget, or they say, and which was allegedly brought to them by the U.S. Ambassador.
An example of the heavy weaponry used by infiltrators in Hama City
A roadblock established by the protesters
Hama City / July 8: Close to a 150,000 protesters gather to shout “the pe0ple want to topple the regime” and reject calls for dialog with Assad representatives.
“There is no dialog with Bashar”
A protester delivers a speech in English to thank the U.S. Ambassador for his visit.
And of course, the by now famous video of the drive-by visit of Assy Square by Ambassador Ford.

Rayhanly Camp / Turkey / July 7: a protest asking for UNSC assistance

Al-Hassakeh / Al-Malkiyyeh / Deirik / July 9: another major Kurdish community joins the protest movement.

Al-Qamishly / July 8: Kurdish protesters try to explain the idea that “tanks kill and don’t enter into dialogs” to Bashar Al-Assad in a way that he may understand

Baniyas: security officers conducting a “civilized” dialog with local residents

Canada / Toronto / July 9: A liberal MP takes part in a demonstration in support of the Syrian Revolution.


Homs / funeral for protester Muhamamd Al-Karraz

Deir Ezzor City / Midlej Square: a major vigil in support of Hama
Deir Ezzor / Qouriyyeh
Deir Ezzor / Albou Kamal: another major vigil/festival

Idlib / Jabla Al-Zawiyeh

Damascus / Zamalka
Damascus / Jobar: “Long live Syria and down with Bashar Al-Assad”
Damascus / Douma: “Get out Bashar, there is no dialog”
Damascus / Harasta
Damascus / Kisweh
Damascus / Midan


Homs / Holeh: thousands take to the streets in this town that has joined the revolution since the early days and been subjected to repeated army and security incursions. “Get Out Bashar” sums up the sentiments.
Homs City / Al-Bayadah Neighborhood: Banner “we hold trials for killed not dialogs”
Homs City / Al-Khaldiyyeh Neighborhood: a cameraman is playing a dangerous game with the soldiers and their tank.
Residents come under fire in Al-Khaldiyyeh
Earlier in the day, protesters were chanting “Bashar’s not worth a spit, a pig like his father was”
As the security officers pour in to disperse the protesters, the cameramen insist on facing them while chanting the same song, and asking Bashar to “Get out”
Protesters stand up to security forces
Homs / Talbisseh: tanks and army troops make sure that residents of this rebellious town stay indoors this Friday.
Still, you cannot stop people who had a taste of freedom and are no longer afraid.
Homs / Al-Qseir: burning the Hezbollah flag and a Bashar poster
The protesters call on Bashar to “Get out”
Homs / Bab Dreib
Homs / Al-Waer
Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa: thousands chant “Get out Bashar, there is no dialog”
Homs / Tamor (Palmyra): thousands chant in support of Hama
Homs / Teir Maallah: protesters hoist the independence flag on the local water tower

Hama / Hilfaya: protesters have fun at night signing “the people want to topple the regime”
Earlier in the day: same chant can be heard “the people want to topple the regime”
Hama / Qamhaneh: Protesters come under fire and see some of their crops burning on their way back to their village after taking part in the demonstrations in Hama City.
Hama / Kafar Zeta
Hama / Al-Salamiyyeh: thousands demonstrate in this mixed town chanting “the people want to topple the regime”

Banyas: security officers fill the streets and snipers take positions on rooftops during No Dialog Friday.

Lattakia / al-Ramel: protesters shout “no to dialog”
“Leave Bashar, there is no dialog” “the people want to topple the regime”


Aleppo / Andan

Despite the military operations in Idlib over the last 4 weeks, the revolutionary fires are still raging in most communities.
Idlib / Jabal Al-Zawiyeh
Idlib / Ma’arrat Al-Nouman: protester shout “ No to Dialog”
Idlib / Binnish: protesters unfold the largest Syrian flag in the world, by their measurement, as they chant “people want to topple the regime” 
Idlib / Sarmeen: thousands of protesters chanting “the people want to topple the regime”
Idlib / Saraqib: thousands demonstrate calling for toppling the regime
Idlib City
Protesters come under fire. No word on casualties.

Deir Ezzor / Albou Kamal
Deir Ezzor City: Protesters thought that taking their movement to the Euphrates will make a nice symbol
Deir Ezzor / Mayadeen
Deir Ezzor / Al-Qouriyyeh: “Get out Bashar, there is no dialog”  

Al-Raqqah / Tabaqah

Al-Qamishly: Kurdish protesters chant “Azadi Azadi” and “We don’t want Bashar Al-Assad”

Al-Hassakeh / Amoudeh: a mixed Kurdish and Arab demonstration with thousands of protesters chanting “the people want to topple the regime” and “Get out Bashar, there is no dialog”

Deraa City: participants in this small demonstration reiterate the earlier call of “the people and the army are one” in the hope of avoiding getting shot by the myriad snipers still scattered throughout the city.
Deraa / Al-Hraak
Deraa / Sanamein: local protesters go for the title of the longest banner saying “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa / Dael
Deraa / Nahteh

Damascus / Kafar Sousseh: protesters chant their support of Hama
Damascus / Arbeen: protesters unfold a long Independence flag
Damascus / Kalamoun / Al-Qarrah: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Maadamiyyeh: another long flag is unfurled
Damascus / Artouz
Damascus / Saqba: thousands chant in support of different protest communities.
Damascus / Al-Hajar Al-Aswad
Damascus / Midan / Al-Hassan Mosque: “Get out Bashar, there is no dialog”. Protesters also carry banners in Russian and Chinese, asserting their commitment to freedom.
Damascus / Al-Tall
Damascus / Zabadani
Damascus / Zamalka
Damascus / Al-Qadam
Damascus / Jobar
Damascus / Kisweh
Damascus / Midan: another long flag being unfurled.
Damascus / Al-Qaboun
Damascus / Assal Al-Wared
Damascus / Qoudsayyah