Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rallying the Dupes!

Loyalist security troops, Arab monitors and now foreign journalists and even the loyalist civilian base, the Assads have always been lucky regarding the nature of terrorist acts that take place in their neighborhood. Terrorists seem to have a soft spot for them: they always attack at times that are most opportune for the Assads, and the choice of targets has always been amazingly fortuitous for them. But despite knowing them to be the real culprits, the world continues to dither. It’s on this lingering tendency that the Assads are hedging their bets.

Wednesday 11, 2012

Today’s death toll: 28. The breakdown: 8 (Homs City), 15 in Hama Province, 1 in Deir Ezzor…

The deaths in Homs City occurred when mortar rounds fell on a pro-Assad rally attended by foreign journalists who had been brought in by loyalist security forces. The dead included a French journalist, Gilles Jacquier, and 7 locals. 2 other foreign journalists, a Belgian and a Dutch, were injured.

Protesters say that use of heavy artillery in the attack is clear indication that the regime itself is behind it, since rebels have no access to such weaponry. Indeed, no pro-Assad rally has ever been targeted before. Many argue that for the attacks to take place at this stage when foreign journalists have been brought into the city for the first time since the beginning of the Revolution is simply too convenient.

We cannot forget in this regard as well that recently Arab League monitors came under attack from loyalists in Lattakia City. It should also be obvious that protesters would never risk hurting the very people who are taking their story to the world, seeing that almost every story filed by foreign journalists who were allowed access to the country has served to corroborate the protesters’ version of events. Let’s not forget here, as some protester have noted, that dozens of foreign correspondents have come and gone to Homs City where they lived, walked and even danced with the protesters, such as this Japanese journalist with no incidents whatsoever. It’s only when and where there are regime officials, security men and TV crews that we see these incidents take place. Why? (Answer below)

Meanwhile, protesters throughout the country have dedicated Thursday January 12 to the memory of Gilles Jacquier.

In, Hama, the 15 reported deaths happened as part of an attack by loyalist troops on the towns of Karnaz and Kafranboudeh. Locals say that Kafranboudeh was targeted due to presence of defectors, and that clashes left many loyalist troops dead and injured as well.


The Macabre Gambit of the Assads

After 10 months of protests, the Assads seem to have realized that they have so far failed to produce any videos similar to those made by protesters, videos that can highlight their own suffering. But how can they when they have not really been suffering? Had they been any suffering, had their loyalists been really targeted, as they so often claim, videos of it would have emerged long ago, organically, made by their own followers using that same weapon used by protesters and known as the cellphone. The absence of that suffering has been undermining the Assads’ credibility in the ranks of their own supporters of late. The suffering of Assad’s supporters, their victimhood, which has so far been imagined, can no longer be relied upon as the sole instrument of control and manipulation. The people’s ability to lie and believe their own lies has finally reached its limits. There is now a need for what has long been imagined to become real in order for the Assads to retain control over their camp. 

This realization, which must have dawned upon the Assads recently, seems to have compelled them to stage the very events they need in order claim that they are suffering too, if not even more. Hence the presence of professional loyalist camera crews in each and every one incident, including the attack on the loyalist rally in the majority-Alawite neighborhood of Ikrimah in Homs City, which left Gilles Jacquier and 7 loyalists dead. Reliance on these crews might change in the future, however, and production values might improve, as the Assads read criticism of their mediocre oeuvres, such as this one, and learn.

But their shrinking loyalist base is not the only intended audience that the Assads have in minds, international observers are also targeted. For while they might be willing to see the obvious for now, that is, the staging and the lies, sooner or later, some will be forced to wonder whether there isn’t any truth beyond all these “dastardly deeds!” For, who in his right mind would do this to his own people?, they will begin to wonder, even though the Assads have been doing this and more to their own people for all these long and bloody months? The Assads don’t view their supporters as human beings any more than they do their opponents. To them all Syrians are pawns and tools to be used to serve their own interests. Their supporters at this stage are their only remaining hostages, some of which can be executed in order to keep them in check, and in order to send a message to those trying to free them.

Of course, what the Assads want the most is for them to stop having to stage events down the road. What they really want is for some protesters to begin committing the very crimes of which they have been falsely accused from the start. Protest leaders have so far managed to find ways to keep things in check, but the more the international community dither on the issue of intervention the more difficult maintaining these checks will become.

Had the possibility of devolution into mayhem not been real, there would have been no need to call for foreign intervention. Protesters have been undermining the Assads on their own so far, and the sanctions have definitely helped, and would have probably been sufficient. But it is this damn scenario that the Assads keep pushing and which is finding some real resonance within small circles in the ranks of their supporters that is truly frightening.

Unless end-game looms the serious fissures that exist in the Assad camp will not surface. End-game at this stage means international intervention and the establishment of buffer zones. Only when these scenarios begin to play themselves out on the ground will we see the major defections need to weaken and isolate the Assads.

Meanwhile, this is the type of videos of which the Assads will be producing more and more in the days and weeks to come

Video Highlights

Leaked video – whereabouts unknown: Assad loyalists storm into a protest community, shooting randomly at homes, and making random arrests

Sooner or later though, loyalists will have to come to terms with the fact that they simply cannot defeat this: (Deir Ezzor city, Jan 11)

Loyalist storm into the town of Kafrenboudeh in Hama Province , And the pounding begins Three martyrs An impromptu funeral for 4 martyrs More martyrs , ,  Sample of the shells used Elsewhere in Hama, there were martyrs in Taybat Al-Imam and Karnaz

Khalidyeh Neighborhood in Homs City comes under fire Impact of shelling on homes Wadi Al-Arab Neighborhood also came under fire leaving several seriously injured Boustan Al-Diwan as well, leaving this martyr

In the Damascene Suburb of Moadamiyeh, loyalist militias drive their trucks into crowds of protesters while shooting. After all, their lord and master has just declared open season on dissent.

Elsewhere in Damascus, Assad showed up at a loyalist rally in Omayad Square, accompanied by his withered rose of the desert, his trophy wife with the atrophied soul, and their future orphans, and all 3,000 people (a portion of whom said to be Lebanese, including Aun supporters and Hezbollah members) were happy But just in case the rally wasn’t so pro-him, he slipped out of the square by growing through the nearby bushes Next, it will be sewer time! 

As Kurds join the protest movement more forcefully, offering martyrs and holding funerals are fast becoming part of the routine: a funeral for 3 martyrs in the town of Qamishly in Hassakeh Province , In neighboring Amoudeh, locals receive a delegation of Arab League monitors , ,

Another AL delegation went to Idlib City , Elsewhere in the restive province, specifically in Kafar Takhareem, loyalists open fire at night

Mass funerals continue to take place: Deir Ezzor City (Deir Ezzor) locals bury some of the 15 locals killed by loyalists on Jan 10 , , , Mourners came under fire but remained defiant

Other funerals: Deir Baalbah (Homs City) , Ma’arrat Al-Nouman (Idlib) Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib) ,

Students in Aleppo University remain in a defiant mode with a new sit-in , , In Rural Aleppo, Marei remains a protest hotspot But the contagion continues to spread to other communities (Dabiq) Kafar Nouran

Defections in Deraa (Jan 10) More defections (Homs on Jan 11)  

Homs City: funeral for 6 martyrs (Jan 10) The bodies belong to local activists who were arrested back in October of 2011. It’s not clear when they died, but the bodies were kept on ice the central morgue. All bodies show signs of severe torture This body belonging to a 25-year old activist was burnt, it’s not clear if the activist was alive at the time, or if it were done after he died

Meanwhile, Damascus continues to simmer and sizzle:

The City Qaboun Barzeh , Al-Hajar Al-Aswad Shoueikeh Midan And in Daraya, high school girls continue to lead the way After student anti-Assad rallies are now a fact of daily life all over the country. 

South Kisweh, an all-women rally despite the fact that community is under military siege