Saturday, August 13, 2011

We Will Overcome!

Despite the continuing crackdown, the siege, the detentions, the kidnappings, the rape and the killings, Syria’s protesters demonstrated once again that their desire for freedom is stronger than any fear, and any act of repression. We will not bow to the dictators. We will overcome.

Friday August 12, 2011

18 protesters were killed in demonstrations that swept the country and met with the usual harsh response by security forces: 2 protesters were killed in Homs where eyewitnesses report that over 500,000 people took part in demonstrations throughout the restive province. 2 were killed in Sakhour Suburb in Aleppo following mass demonstrations and clashes with security officers. 2 were killed in Hama City where inhabitants defied army troops and took to the streets to demand end to Assad rule. 5 were killed in the Damascene suburb of Douma, including a woman and 16-year old boy, and 1 in Saqba. 1 died in the town of Binnish and 1 in Khan Shaikhoon (a woman) in Idlib Province, and 1 in Deir Ezzor City following shelling by army tanks.  

Al-Assad appoints Fahd Jassem Freij as heads of the armed forces, to replay Yassin Rajha who was promoted to Minister of Defense instead of the retiring Ali Habeeb. Fahd is originally from Hama City. 

"We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history," Clinton said. Assad, she said, "has lost the legitimacy to lead and it is clear that Syria would be better off without him."
… we should expect the regime to collapse in ultra-slow motion, at least compared with how matters developed in Tunisia and Egypt, and even, in the opposite direction, in Bahrain.
We will rebuild the Syria that we want, a Syria that doesn't belong to one man, or to one family. Yes, we are bleeding in these demonstrations, but Bashar is dying."
Crackdowns on the scale of Syria's have prompted action by the International Criminal Court elsewhere. The ICC opened an investigation against Qaddafi just three weeks into Libya's uprising.
Souad’s voice was almost broken when I finally reached her about a week ago. “Well, we are dying yet again, but at least, I thank God, the world is hearing about us this time!”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared that further sanctions are on the horizon for the embattled Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad from the Canadian government. At a news conference in Costa Rica Thursday, Harper was asked about the continuing security problems in Syria. "We continue to condemn the brutal actions of the Syrian government in the strongest possible terms," he said. "Their behaviour is outrageous. And I think they are on a path that frankly is not sustainable."

The nonviolent character of this revolution is the thing that poses the biggest threat to the Assad regime. That’s why from the very outset, starting with Bashar Al-Assad himself down to the smallest minion in the state propaganda system, we’ve been told about infiltrators, armed gangs, Salafist emirates and Jihadist elements. In order to justify their overwhelming use of force, the Assads needed, to begin with, to paint the revolutionaries as violent extremists, then, they needed to actually transform them into violent extremists. Playing the sectarian card was the only weapon in their arsenal that could succeed in this regard. By scaring and enraging their own supporters through blatant lies that cater to their prejudices, and by having loyalist militias use sectarian language against the protesters, employing rape as an instrument of collective punishment in some instances, and by targeting Sunni religious symbols, the Assads were hoping to incur the same reaction from the protesters. Their efforts were a colossal failure.

While most protesters may not yet appreciate the deeper significance of nonviolence and its philosophical underpinning, they have long become aware of the futility of violence, especially when confronting amoral sociopaths like the Assads. That’s why, and despite occasional saber rattling and occasional recourse to sectarian rhetoric by some elements in their midst, whenever push came to shove, the advocates of nonviolence in the protest movement have been able to win the day.

This inborn aversion to violence on part of the Syrian people, an aversion borne out of the bitter experiences of the 1970s and 80s, seems to be also helping defeat the Assads current plan for introducing Jihadists into the fray to give credence to their allegations of armed gangs. But Jihadists require an environment that is sympathetic to their message in order to be able to operate efficiently. No such sympathy exists in protest communities. Hence, jihadists remain extremely marginal to the current going-ons in the country, but don’t expect the Assads to give up on this card anytime soon. But do expect protest leaders to remain smart and vigilant.

The suggestions below are taken from Getting Serious in Syria, and are very useful indeed. I hope the Obama Administration is listening. The recent statement of Mrs. Clinton bode well and here efforts seem in line with the suggestions below. I sincerely hope that this is the case:

“Instead, the United States should be working assiduously to convince Assad to go, and to go soon. This task of persuasion should entail five steps:

1)       The United States must begin with a strong declaratory policy announcing that it is now working to build the best possible bridge to a post-Assad Syria.
2)      Washington should then convene a conference of interested powers, in conjunction with Turkey and France, to develop a Syrian “contact group” devoted to establishing a stable order and to preventing a power vacuum. Crucially, such a contact group should also seek to involve Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
3)      The United States must work with other key actors to help turn the Syrian opposition into the nucleus of a transition government. As the experience with the Libyan opposition forces has shown, engagement with the Syrian opposition movement would prove invaluable to increase its effectiveness and professionalize its efforts.
4)      The United States must promote defections from the Syrian security services with an eye both to convincing Assad to leave and to preserving the Syrian Armed Forces as a future national institution. In doing so, Washington must warn officers, down to the brigade level, that they are being monitored and that they will be held personally accountable for the atrocities that are committed under their command. (This should not be a bluff.)
5)      The contact group should take all available steps to starve the regime of cash and other resources, including taking a leadership role on preventing the regime from generating revenue from oil exports.

Taken together these steps may not stop the flow of blood immediately, but over the mid-term they can significantly reduce the number of needless deaths. They will also hasten the rate of defections from the regime, which will be crucial to reigning in the government crackdown and allowing a genuine process of transition to begin.”

Aleppo: protesters in the Sakhour suburb of Aleppo came out in droves today They ended clashing with security forces who tried to disperse them using tear gas Protesters threw rocks at the security officers Security officers eventually opened fire at the protesters , , (long) A wounded A martyr Another martyr , And people still came out at night Sakhour, Andan, Al-Bab and Kobani are some of the suburbs of Aleppo that have joined the protest movement since the early days, and have already offered a number of martyrs before today. All is not quiet in Aleppo, but the security crackdown is too intense. Still, more and more Aleppo communities are bound to join the protest movement in the days ahead. Andan (morning) ,  ,  (night) , Kobani Aleppo City (Firdoss Neighborh00d): this video from yesterday shows a car driven by a pro-Assad thug speeding through a crowd of protesters killing a child

Idlib: despite days of military operations and mass detention campaigns, the cities and communities making up the Idlib Province are still in a defiant mode. Kafar Nabbol: after a tank attack in the morning that left one donkey dead protesters took to the streets at night carrying signs one of which said “even donkeys are not safe under your rule”  Idlib City (morning) (night) Binnish: the residents break their fast together in the main streets Before that, they had demonstrated together as well to work out an appetite , Jabal Al-Zawiyeh(Kinsafrah) , Jabal Al-Zawiyeh (Kafar Ouwaid) , Jarjanaz , Taftanaz , Ma’arrat Al-Nouman Saraqib Sermeen Hzano Ma’ar Zita Haas Tanks enter Khan Shaikhoon, where a woman was killed Even in Jisr Al-Shoughour where hundreds of arrests had taken place earlier and thousands were forced to flee across the border into Turkey, people put together a small protest

In Homs, despite security presence in all major neighborhoods, and their willingness to shoot unprovoked , protests took place in Baba Amr , Bab Al-Sibaa (morning) (night) Al-Bayadah Boustan Al-Diwan Al-Insha’aat Bab Dreib Al-Qoussour Al-Khaldiyeh , , , Shammas Karm Al-Shami Bab Houd Gunfire heard in Ghoutah after a mass protest has taken place , Elsewhere in the Province: Deir Baalbah Tadmor City (Palmyra) , , Al-Houleh , Al-Rastan , Blood covers the streets in Homs City Karm Al-Zeitun In Talbisseh, security forces shot at the minaret of the Ali Bin Abu Taleb Mosque Earlier, the residents held a major rally

In Damascus, protests took place in Al-Kisweh ,  , despite mass security presence Harasta , , Earlier in the day protesters came under fire Protesters in Douma , came under fire by security forces who take carful aim before shooting leaving several dead and wounded , including, Fatima Adeeb Kareem who was shot by a sniper while in her home praying Still, people took to the streets after Night Prayers Protesters get shot at in Daraya Troops storm into Artouz Zabadani Protesters come under fire in the morning but still come out at night , Saqba , Midan , , , , Al-Tall , Kafar Sousseh Rankous Jobar Madaya Al-Qadam , , Zamalka , Ayn Al-Fijeh  

Hama: Despite massive security presence in most quarters of Hama City people still come out to protest , Elsewhere in the province, the protests continued unabated by the crackdown Hilfaya , Kafar Zita Kafar Nabboudeh

In Deir Ezzor City, people took to the streets after Friday Prayers despite the ongoing siege Earlier in the day, the shelling left one dead Small protests took place in different neighborhoods as signs of continued defiance , , Elsewhere in the Province: Mayadin Al-Qouriyeh

Lattakia: protests took place in Al-Ramel Neighborhood , , , Boustan Al-Samakeh Gunfire heard in Sleibeh Neighborhood Pro-Assad militias patrol the streets of Lattakia Troops intimidating worshippers as they leave the mosque Elsewhere in the Province: Jableh ,

Baniyas / Baydah: worshippers manage to drive security forces out of their mosque