You don’t need to read tea leaves in order to figure out the writing on the wall or make sense of what’s going in Syria. An open mind would suffice.
Sunday 18, 2011
Today’s death toll: 24. The Breakdown: 12 in Homs, 7 in Idlib, 2 in Deir Ezzor, 2 in Damascus city and 1 in Deraa.
Reports from different sources inside Syria claim that 21 mid-level officers are scheduled for execution tomorrow for defecting and/or attempting to defect.
Syrian-American Blogger Razan Ghazzawi has been freed.
A reminder of what’s at stake in the Syrian Revolution (Hama City)
A girl (you’ll have to take our word for it) http://youtu.be/WKpZKzJo2Ec
Message to the SNC
As members of the Syrian National Council conclude their meeting in Tunis, the protesters in Deir Baalbah Neighborhood in Homs give them an ultimatum: their final statement better reflect the demands of the revolution, or they will start carrying banners saying “the SNC does not represent me” http://youtu.be/wtVYvMbSfjo The speaker in the clip reminds opposition members that for 40 years they have not been able to raise their voice, but now they are speaking freely, thanks to the bravery of the children of Deraa, whose anti-regime graffiti sparked the revolution.
But let me take this opportunity to send my own message to SNC leaders:
- Because the international community is not willing to intervene at this stage,
- Because the situation on the ground is getting more and more tragic by the day,
- Because the criminals involved for the current situation, as the recent Human Right Watch report shows, is a virtual “who’s who among Assad’s security and military officers, and…
- Because military, security and political defector can be counted on the fingers of one hand,
It’s about time we realized that ours is a longer term struggle and we started planning and strategizing accordingly. Any group that wants to truly represent and lead the revolution down the road should arrange its priorities in the right manner:
Getting international recognition at this stage is not as important as consolidating our base of support and legitimacy on the ground. For this, our discourse and our actions need to be carefully modulated so as to garner popular support and respect. We all also need to find ways to support protest communities and the local resistance, especially the armed resistance. Some in the international community may not like it, but armed resistance has become a fact on the ground, even if it is still in its infancy. No political group aspiring to lead the revolution and the transitional period beyond can afford to let armed resistance take place outside its purview and its controls. A political group that has no real control over armed resistance cannot hold the country together in that most critical period of transition that lies ahead. As such, we are not just talking about creating the façade of control, but the reality of it. SNC leaders have excelled in creating façades but not realities. That’s good for them, but it is not good for the country.
There are a lot of people in the SNC and outside of it who don’t believe in armed resistance, be that as it may, it’s not their job to stifle or suffocate it, because this will undermine the morals of those protest communities who have now thrown their full support behind it. The revolution itself will be hurt by that. The only thing that can be done at this stage is to support the different movements on the ground and adopt the demands of the revolutionaries as they are, regardless of what the international community has to say. Only when we have established enough credibility and legitimacy among the ranks of the revolutionaries, can we begin to push back on certain issues and advocate stances that may not be popular, but which are, nonetheless, right, for the country and the revolution.
Right now, each time we contradict the revolutionaries, we end up losing credibility. Why? Because we never had much of it to begin with, after all, we didn’t make the revolution, the protesters have not taken to the streets because of things we said or did. The protesters are aware of this fact, and are beginning to remind us of it, as we can tell from the clip above. Moreover, we have helped undermine our own credibility over the last months on account of our well-publicized internecine bickering, which often reflected personal egos and ambitions than any principled stands.
So, our priority at this stage should be to get internal recognition, not international one. When that is truly “in the bag,” international recognition will follow. We should also remember that the real challenge is not about achieving some sort of haphazard unity, but about projecting the needed leadership, vision and representation, it’s about the quality of work, and of who we are.
A group of Damascene women say they are quitting the famous and unofficial religious network known as the Qoubayssi Movement. The reason: the negative view espoused by the movement’s founder, Munirah Al-Qoubayssi vis-à-vis the revolution, especially female revolutionaries http://youtu.be/SH7N_BawlT8 This movement, which has many followers among members of the commercial elite in Damascus and Aleppo, and across the middle classes, has been playing a critical role in in keeping the situation in Aleppo City and Central Damascus in check. Obviously, this policy is beginning to backfire.
Students Still In
Students in the University of Damascus continue to express their support for the revolution. This clip shows students holding a silent sit-in in the College of Electrical Engineering http://youtu.be/nT3QAlshgyU
Sectarian Hatred: the Homsy Debacle
Opposition leader, Mamoun Al-Homsi (despite the name he is actually from Damascus) made a recorded statement in which he threatened all Alawites in Syria with getting “wiped out” from the face of earth if they persisted in supporting Assad and killing Sunnis http://youtu.be/MWLH8HQw_lg He was immediately denounced by all Syrian of note, and will certainly continue to be condemned over the next few days. Still, this is an ominous development. For while many Syrians would like to dismiss Mamoun as a political douche, this douche is a former MP who has over the years met with many world leaders, including former President George W. Bush (twice) and the late Vaclav Havel. More importantly, his sentiments are not exactly unique, but echoes and reinforces popular sentiments across the country.
For this reason, the opposition needs to do more than simply condemn such statements. Now more than ever, we need to produce a Draft National Covenant on basic rights of the Syrian citizen, and we need to propose different models for the state to show that we can come out with practical suggestions on how the rights of all different groups, regardless of their demographic size, will be protected in the new Syria we are trying to build. None of these things may have an immediate impact on the current battle taking place in Syrian streets, and Syrian souls, but down the road, they will make all the difference. We keep saying that Syria is not Libya or Iraq, but so far, our methods and our discourse are not that different from those that have been adopted by our colleagues in the Libyan and Iraq opposition.
Incident in Midan
The angry statement by Homsy above came in response to developments in Midan District in Damascus, where a protest was subject to intense crackdown leaving two dead: a young woman and a 9-year old baby girl http://youtu.be/HUkMMurxGlw . The situation in the neighborhood is very tense. Funerals are scheduled for tomorrow, although there are reports that one of the bodies was snatched from the local hospital by loyalists.
Sweep Operations Continue
Scenes of devastation in Bab Al-Sibaa Neighborhood in Homs City http://youtu.be/vv5yS9Mzw6c Karm Al-Zeitun http://youtu.be/3zhrynOvxFw Targeting people in cars is a favorite pastime for snipers, as this human brain in the front seat can attest http://youtu.be/DP9qitwLfpk And this wounded man from Bayadah Neighborhood http://youtu.be/B5x5ULqwr6s People stuck at the crossroads due to sniper action http://youtu.be/_Iq8NhujCUM , http://youtu.be/QvYYwR1wgDM
And martyrs keep falling: Wa’er http://youtu.be/U8qJJ1qnQ-k , http://youtu.be/ZWzG12ZQWbc Khalidyeh http://youtu.be/MIk_dtfZkFE , http://youtu.be/Y7oeZ-VCEgU , http://youtu.be/5Fw8lN6S6Hc Jib Al-Jandali http://youtu.be/BXaC7DdBwzM
And people keep holding funerals: Qoussour http://youtu.be/Zvo14iso3wc Wa’er http://youtu.be/bJ9UTFH0828
Still, and with the involvement of actress Fadwa Sulaiman, who is an Alawite, protest leaders keep sending messages of inclusion http://youtu.be/IE2417ZiNUU stressing that their fight is against the Assad Gang, not the Alawite community http://youtu.be/NQ-eXQL_k-w
In the historic city of Tadmor/Palmyra in the larger Homs Province, loyalists tried to reassert central control today http://youtu.be/qZ4zLr_ywRw And martyrs fell http://youtu.be/UmycLw81rtk
A similar development takes place in Qseir http://youtu.be/YsJ9vl3zUC0 And the town offers more martyrs http://youtu.be/SWl4hXIp_ls , http://youtu.be/znQ3rCQrpsw and holds more funerals with people shouting “death is better than humiliation” http://youtu.be/Q5ebTfljIrI
In Houleh, the evacuation of residents from homes that have been shelled http://youtu.be/nfSMen8vRwM Homes on fire http://youtu.be/guyMg1IJ4HY , http://youtu.be/KKs6b9UpHw4 Martyrs http://youtu.be/zuJHOmyZb7w The pounding continues http://youtu.be/ebc9dAezs6s
Talbisseh is also dealing with an renewed invasion by loyalists http://youtu.be/KjTAnN70FXE , http://youtu.be/jKdQgvg9glA
Loyalists storm the town of Khan Shaikhoon http://youtu.be/XNnnS5gDiYA As the inhabitants of nearby Haass hold a funeral http://youtu.be/WRXfmaaQurU The sounds of gunfire is mixed with the sounds of traffic in Ma’arrat Al-Nouman http://youtu.be/Wf4h5X4hNeE
Kafrenbel offers more martyrs http://youtu.be/8h_i_oTGjpM , http://youtu.be/nER8QmYjOew and hold new funerals http://youtu.be/K4pdqQXfC5I
A video from the operations in Ibleen on December 17 http://youtu.be/uZoM_LIe24Q
Loyalists break into shops in Jisr Ashoughour in order to disrupt the strike http://youtu.be/pe9DQAzmcHk
A funeral in Saraqib http://youtu.be/y1NAAOOWdjk More martyrs fall in Jabal Al-Zawiyeh http://youtu.be/xsk1ynahV6A Another in Idlib City http://youtu.be/pq3lwQ5IsPY
Loyalists move into the town of Kafranboudeh http://youtu.be/8y8fO2mZTyA
Loyalist try to force the inhabitants of Sanamein into breaking their strike http://youtu.be/OK1YFb-4PfE , http://youtu.be/BUWNCGoEEo4 And things get nasty quick http://youtu.be/LKf3-7Xdc8A , http://youtu.be/m72molRR4UU As nearby Karak holds a funeral http://youtu.be/AEc7Zem4bVI Meanwhile, tanks still occupy the streets of Hraak http://youtu.be/F250pk9vKbQ And locals hold a new funeral http://youtu.be/FI3AFMwU2W0 , http://youtu.be/HPcsQndK6dw
Defectors form new fighting units in Deraa: Al-Moutassim http://youtu.be/Nqsp-xn5Bz4 The Men of God http://youtu.be/WvTGi9GJc6s
Tanks and armored vehicles now are being deployed ore frequently in the suburbs of Damascus, especially in the region of Eastern Ghoutah: Saqba http://youtu.be/hPsMSbeG0qk , http://youtu.be/TkBsfYaM8W8 Douma http://youtu.be/6oDQF4f6tKM Arbeen http://youtu.be/8jTMwxOthks In Harasta, nighttime protesters come under fire (mid-clip) but remain defiant http://youtu.be/7OrAeMPzwpA Meanwhile, the security headquarters in Qaboun came under attack earlier today, according to different reports.
In Deir Ezzor City, crackdown left several dead http://youtu.be/IYvZetbOPDM Loyalists carry out a number of drive-by shootings http://youtu.be/ZQgWHsgr6mw
The town of Jbeileh comes under fire at night http://youtu.be/QMGnc85GPMg