Monday, August 8, 2011

How to lose a country in 10 months, or less!

With every tank attack, every city invasion, every militia formed, every protester felled, Assad is not reestablishing control over Syria, but losing it. Indeed, the Assads are losing Syria one bullet, one bomb, and one lie at a time. But if the people want to win Syria back, and not have it fall into some equally abusive hands, much work still lie ahead.

Sunday August 7, 2011

More than 80 dead in the last 24 hours, 50 in Deir Ezzor City as Assad troops move in with tanks. 21 residents were killed in Homs’ Al-Houleh District mostly by snipers, and 8 protesters were killed in Idlib City when security forces and snipers opened fire at them during a funeral procession, more than 40 protesters were wounded, and dozens arrested.

In Deir Ezzor City, the invasion began at dawn from different routes, with special focus on Al-Jourah, one of the poorer neighborhoods located in the western parts of the City. Hospitals were quickly taken over and shut down. Mosques are now serving as makeshift hospitals for treating the wounded. Despite the violence, small protests were hastily organized in the Eastern parts of the City. There are also reports of clashes between army defectors and loyalists, but reports in this regard tend to be contradictory at this stage. 

Al-Houleh Region, an amalgam of villages and towns located northwest of Homs City, was also stormed at dawn when tanks trolled into a number of communities and began firing indiscriminately at residential areas. Snipers soon took positions in different locations. 13 people were killed during the initial shelling, and 8 more were killed by snipers during the impromptu funerals. Eyewitnesses report that there are still bodies buried under the rabble in different areas.

In phone call with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the UN Secretary General expressed concern over Syria regime's violence; Ban has been trying to speak to Assad for months, but he refused to take the calls.
Aleppo's reluctance to join the revolt goes beyond any alleged cowardice. Financially stable, it was less likely to rise up, and residents have been made complacent by enticements and thick security… Whereas Damascus is the capital and administrative hub of Syria, Aleppo is the economic center where much of the money flows, said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian opposition activist and dissident in the United States.
BEIRUT — The Syrian military defied growing condemnation and launched another assault on the country’s most restive locales Sunday, deploying dozens of tanks and armored vehicles into parts of a city in eastern Syria that it had long feared provoking, activists said. At least 20 people were killed, they said, and thousands had fled the city.
The babies died at Hurani Hospital in the northwest Syrian city on Wednesday, Rami Abdul-Rahman, president of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Sunday. Abdul-Rahman cited information provided by a hospital employee who fled the city on Saturday.
(Reuters) - Syrian tanks stormed a city in the east of the country on Sunday, crushing makeshift barricades, opening fire and seizing the central square, residents said, in a fresh crackdown that activists said killed dozens of civilians.
Despite the military siege on their town, some Albu Kamal residents are trying to smuggle their women and children into Iraq for safety while they pursue protests against Assad's rule.
"The violence that the Syrian government is inflicting on Syrian protesters, from our point of view, is grotesque. It's abhorrent," Ford told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour in a U.S. exclusive. "So we are looking at additional unilateral measures, but also measures that we can work with partners to get the Syrian government to stop shooting protesters, to release political prisoners and to stop these arrest campaigns."
Already facing sanctions from the United States and Europe, Assad has seen former friends in Russia and Turkey turn against him, while Arab states have broken months of silence to join the chorus of concern over the escalating violence.
“Saudi Arabia announces the recall of its ambassador for consultations,” the king said in the statement released in Riyadh in which he urged Syria to “stop the killing machine and the bloodshed... before it is too late.”
Secretary-general Nabil Al Arabi "calls on the Syrian authorities to bring an end immediately to acts of violence and campaigns by the security forces against civilians", the statement said.

What can we offer Assad supporters when they are in a listening mode to break them away from junta in charge? That is one of the main questions that need to be addressed by oppositions groups and coalitions in charge of laying out a workable transitional plan for Syria. A workable transitional plan will not only facilitate the acceptance on the international scene of the opposition coalition who will produce it, but will also work as a much needed outreach tool to the Assad support base in view of weakening and dividing it.

The answer to this particular question, of course will vary depending on the individuals and groups involved. Security and army officers of various levels would want a general amnesty, clear and unambiguous, one that does not leave the door open for later prosecution. Such an offer would need to be made at a certain point, its wording and timing needs to be considered carefully. But timing is not the only critical factor here, there is also the important issue of credibility and legitimacy. Only people who have legitimacy and credibility with protest leaders and the international community are actually in a position to make such an offer.

Another aspect to this important question is the need for coming out with a vision for restructuring the security apparatuses and army divisions that does not leave the hundreds of thousands of people who directly and indirectly make their living out of these institutions penniless and unemployed. The issue of sectarian balances will be a major consideration here as well.

And this is just one example of the issues that need to be tackled as part of a well thought-out transitional plan. Rather than calling for new conferences and meetings, opposition groups are better advised to work on producing such a plan, the sooner the better, for all.

Deir Ezzor City: Invasion begins at dawn , , , , , Some of the early wounded Tanks prevent residents from leaving the City using a local bridge. As the cameraman says, the people seem to be appealing for help, but it’s not clear whether they have wounded.  Sounds of automatic gunfire in the Al-Huwaiqah Neighborhood Smoke fills the skies over Deir Ezzor City , Artillery positioned at key exits around the City A survey of the Aftermath  A victim of a sniper attack Another martyr Elsewhere in the City, protests continued: Takaya Street

Elsewhere in Deir Ezzor Province, Al-Asharah , Mayadin Al-Qouriyeh

Al-Houleh: one of the victims of the shelling (graphic) Another victim Shelling of residential areas A tank in action , Martyrs are being pulled out of the rubble ,

Hama City: effects of shelling on residential neighborhoods , , , A video showing the remains of two truck drivers hit by a shell on August 2nd

Idlib City: mourners come under fire during a funeral procession, but they stand defiantly at first, until security officers shoot straight at the, 8 are killed, we can see one of them fall in this clip , Another martyr, Hassan Suleiman, falls in this clip Hassan’s mother berates Bashar Al-Assad as she stands over the body of her dead son The martyr Ibrahim Shahhoud and his mother  Ibrahim gets buried in pre-dawn funeral to avoid another confrontation with security forces  One of the wounded protesters is rescued from a hospital where he was being held by security officers when his comrades feared be might be killed, people are shouting “the people want to topple the regime” all the while This clips shows one of the detainees after being released, the signs of torture are too obvious  This was the funeral before the security opened fire, it was a funeral for two martyrs, including a young student of law named Muhammad Ghareeb, killed on the day before by snipers , Protesters come under fire / the view from the street , , More views of the funeral before the gunfire , Following the crackdown the city goes on strike  The crackdown and arrests continued into the night ,

Elsewhere in Idlib Province, people held vigils in Taftanaz Saraqib Ma’arrat Al-Nouman Kafar Nabbol Al-Hbeit Sarmeen Talmans Binnish Troops seem to be planning to move into Ma’arrat Al-Nouman next as evidenced by the positions they took around the city earlier today In their nightly vigil, the residents of Ma’arrat refused intervention by the army

Homs / Rastan: This video shows the body of the defector, Lieutenant Fadi Al-Kassim, who died on August 7 after clashes that pitted his group, the Free Officers, against security officers laying siege to Rastan Fadi has only announced his defection on the previous day He is also seeing here standing with his comrades whose is still unknown. Fadi is in the second row, the last person to the right Fadi’s funeral This might be the first documented incident that goes to prove the existence of armed opposition made up of army defectors.

This might be another one:

Damascus / Moadamiyeh: this night-time video purports to show a confrontation between the pro-Assad militias and army defectors that took place on Friday August 5 . Eyewitnesses we contacted claim that the officers who carried out the attack on militias belong to the Free Army recently formed by Lieutenant General Ahmad Al-Asaad. General Al-Asaad had promised that if the Assads attacked Hama and Deir Ezzor, he would send his troops, said to be in the hundreds, to carry out attacks on pro-Assad militias throughout Syria.

Damascus / Kanaker: An hour before he passed away, this wounded teenager, Muhammad Zuhair Al-Atrash, asked all “free people” in Syria to avenge his death, and rise up against the loss of honor and dignity.

Damascus / Deir Qanoun: in an act of collective punishment, authorities bulldoze the homes of some inhabitants in this suburb, who like most residents of these unplanned communities lack the proper permits

“On the Roof” This is the title of new series currently being aired on Syria’s state-run TV. The clip below shows how a security chief gives his troops orders to shoot on unarmed protesters shouting “Peaceful,” and expresses surprise as they carried out his orders The  show seems designed to blame the current crackdown on rogue security chiefs, and comes in line with an old established policy by the Assads where their underlings get blamed for everything, and they are made to appear above the fray and the source of hope. This time, however, the policy might backfire. The game worked when the people were too naïve, and the artistic community remained fully loyal to the Assads. This is no longer the case: the naiveté has vanished, and loyalty is split.

Syrian expats in Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, celebrates the King’s decision to call back his Ambassador by demonstrating in front of the Syrian Embassy

Douma The funeral of Muhammad Ali Sheikh Demonstration following Night Prayer
Al-Qalamoun / Al-Qarrah

University of Aleppo Hospital: 200 doctors hold a sit-in to protest the violent crackdown against dissent

Al-Warsheh Neighborhood
Bab Al-Mreijeh: protesters from Bab Al-Sibaa merge with those from Bab Al-Mreijeh
Stadium Street: No power does not mean no protest




Sleibeh: pro-Assad militias roam the neighborhood at night