Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Devolution!

Assad’s acceptance of the Arab League Initiative is but a ploy to help him stall for time, as his troops carry out their operations in Homs, Hama and Idlib, and the opposition continues to dance for rain, Manna and a clue.

Sunday November 2, 2011

Assad accepts an Arab League Initiative calling for immediate cessation of the violent crackdown and for holding dialog with opposition groups in Cairo. Meanwhile, the orchestrated crackdown continues with 34 people reported dead, more than 25 in Homs Province alone, including 11 workers who were killed in the village of Kafar Laha (Houleh District) when pro-Assad popular militias from nearby villages stormed the factory were they worked in search of defectors. There were none. Also, in the Houleh District, 8 more were killed by loyalist militias when they were snatched from their cars near the village of Talf and shot execution style.

In Hama Province 15 loyalists were killed in clashes with defectors near the town of Madeeq. Two more protesters were killed in Deir Ezzor Province and 2 in the Damascene Suburb of Arbeen.


Bashar Al-Assad’s acceptance of the Arab league Initiative means absolutely nothing. What matters is what is actually happening on the ground – there the devolution continues.

If the Arabs wanted to be honest brokers, their demand of ending the crackdown should have been followed by a demand for the imprisonment of Atef Najib, Maher Al-Assad, Assef Chawkat, Jameel Hassan, Ali Mamluke, Hafiz Makhlouf and all top military and security officials who were responsible for orchestrating it, and, thus, for all the killings that has taken place so far. If Assad wants immunity and a safe exit, a lot of people around him have to pay.

As for the dialog, it will have to take place between Baath leaders and other members of the ruling National Progressive Front who were not involved in this mayhem, and representatives of the opposition, who cannot be distilled down to the Syrian National Council no matter what Alchemy one deploys.

Meanwhile, law and order will have to be maintained by the second line of command in the military and security apparatuses. Their main challenge will be to control and disarm all the militias the Assads have created.

No, I don’t believe this scenario will be playing out anytime soon. Assad did not accept the Arab League Initiative because he is thinking of an exit strategy: he is simply experimenting with another stalling tactic. Indeed, his move is a page out of Yemeni President Ali Saleh’s book: a cynical attempt at stonewalling, talking about talking while militias and death squads take the battle on the ground to another level, plunging the country further and further into civil mayhem.

This is not my sentiments alone: there is a growing network inside the country made up of activists who are wary of any negotiations at this stage. They feel that this path favors the Assads who will be negotiating as a cohesive block, and who will be using the negotiations at a strategy for stonewalling, for fracturing the opposition even more, and for sapping the strength and the energy of the protest movement by bogging it down in a bottomless political quagmire. The issue is further complicated by the fact that the opposition, the dysfunctional MIA SNC included, has so far failed to produce the kind of leadership that inspires confidence when it comes to these situations. In other words, everyone knows that Assad negotiators will have any negotiating team fielded by the opposition for breakfast.

It’s for these kind of rational considerations, and not out of emotional impulse, as some might suggest, that the protesters and activists on the ground are refusing to enter into negotiations at this stage. They know that the respective positions are unequal and that the Assads have to be cut down to size before embarking on such path, hence, the early push for transitional justice. We have to bear in mind here that it’s not the Assads who are expected to deliver this justice, of course, but the international community, for “We won’t take part in any dialog while our killers go free.

Indeed, it seems fitting that demonstrations on Wednesday were dedicated to raising the Independence Flag.

Meanwhile, the war for independence in occupied Homs City continues, with pounding of Baba Amr neighborhood , which killed and charred the body of a baby on November 1

More shelling in Baba Amr: It begins at dawn , and continues throughout the day , , , a tank roaming the nearby Cairo Street firing randomly Meanwhile, Assad’s snipers continue to pick locals like sheep

And the dawn of November 3 the shelling of Baba Amr continues, the decision to accept the Arab league Initiative notwithstanding ,

On the other side of town, Khaldiyeh is now a ghost town But the battle against ghosts rages on Black smoke rises over the skies of the nearby Bayadah neighborhood after a house catches fire due to pounding In Deir Baalbah automatic gunfire

Other parts of the city observe a strike

Taking his last breaths in Jub Al-Jandali , a martyr from Qoussour His funeral A martyr from Shammas neighborhood a martyr from Deir Baalbah

At night, protesters take to the streets calling for ouster of Bashar, for international protection and for freezing of Syria’s membership in the Arab League: in Midan Qoussour , Jouret Al-Shayah Ghoutah Qarabees Jobar Wa’er , And of course in Baba Amr itself , and Deir Baalbah and Khaldiyeh , In Bab Houd, protester carry signs calling for a safe zone that “Assad dares not invade like the Golan,” and support to “our army,” the Free Syrian army Insha’aat Shammas

In the village of Kafar Laha in the Houleh District of Homs Province, a massacre was perpetrated by pro-Assad militias who targeted 11 workers in a local brick factory and killed them after tying their hands behind their backs and blindfolding them , This was an execution along sectarian lines and comes part of a series of smaller scale mass murders that have been taken place over the last few weeks.

A similar incident took place in Houleh as well near the village of Talf. Eight locals were dragged away from their cars and executed , The funerals ,

So far the perpetrators of these feats are loyalists, but there have been a couple of incidents recently that seem to have been perpetrated by local Sunni villages in retaliations. It is feared now that these developments might start a chain reaction of retaliations and counter-retaliations. But as the pounding of residential neighborhoods in Homs City, Qseir, Houleh, Talbisseh and Rastan continues, cool heads cannot prevail. The Assads are getting all the breaks to implement their plans. 

But courage is not short supplies, as locals in Houleh take to the streets at night ,

In other news, more defections

The defection of Lt. Muhammad Ahmad, Director of Special Operations Office in the Air-Force Intelligence, and the highest ranking Alawite to declare his defection to date. Among the reasons he cites for his defection are the crimes he witnessed in Deraa/Hauran Province, and the false warnings and threats sent as text messages to the mobiles of members of the Alawite community signed in the name of fictitious Salafist groups, especially in Damascus and Homs. He calls on his comrades in the army and security and to notables and intellectuals in the Alawite community to side with the protesters. Then he calls on Assad to depart. Finally, he admonishes patience to the protesters saying victory is near

Lt. Col. Radwan Al-Madloush, head of the recently formed Syrian Revolution Military Council, honors officers who carried out a successful operation against loyalists in the town of Karnaz in Hama Province which resulted in 38 dead, including a number of raking officers, and scores of wounded. The Council operates independently of the Free Syrian Army at this stage, and has only one fighting brigade, the Sulaiman Brigade, active in the Hama and Idlib provinces The Brigade was established before the defection of Lt. Col. Al-Maloush and the establishment of the Military Council, but it was not included among the brigades acting under the FSA or even the Free Officers Movement before it merged with FSA. It is not clear what kind of relationship exists between the two groups: the Military Council and the FSA.

Loyalists having fun with RPGs

In Kafar Zita in Hama Province, gunfire at night

Protesters in Damascus City arrange a hasty protest in Khalid Bin Al-Walid Street in downtown Damascus

Major demonstrations

DAMASCUS: a funeral for an activist from rural Damascus , Another in Arbeen , In Douma, women protesters come under fire but remain defiant Hamouriyeh Harasta Zamalka Barzeh Douma Qadam signs “National Coordination Committee does not represent me” and “Assad’s terrorism calls for no-fly zone” Kafar Sousseh Midan District

DEIR EZZOR: Qrayah Deir Ezzor City (Jbeileh neighborhood) (Takaya Street)

LATTAKIA: despite the heavy siege, people take to the streets at night in Lattakia City

Student Demonstrations

BANIYAS: security arrest students as they come out of schools in order to prevent protests We should bear in mind that we are talking about junior high students here.

DERAA/HAURAN: Nahteh Deraa City students from the college of the literature speak their mind