Sunday, April 1, 2012

Of April Fools and Useless Tools!

The irony involved in holding an international conference on Syria on April Fools is all too noticeable, and the fact that just on the day before, an Assad official would claim victory simply adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the mix. But the Revolution-cum-Devolution goes on, no amount of irony or wishful thinking will make it go away.

Friday March 31, 2012

Death Toll: 81, including 30 in Homs City, 29 ion Deraa and 12 in Idlib.

Activists in Deraa Province report that a major massacre took place in the plains of Ghariyeh Gharbiyeh, when pro-Assad death squads used knives to kill 18 locals hiding in the plains then set their bodies on fire.  

Op-Eds & Special Reports

I will be traveling over the next week and may not be able to update the blog during this period. Sorry!

Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, is trying to bridge the gap between the exiles and those Syrians on the ground. He's bringing together small groups of Syrian experts to brainstorm ideas for a transition, which he is feeding to opposition groups on the ground in Syria who the United States is now trying to reach. "We don't have a political agenda and aren't tabling a plan," Abdulhamid said. "This is to raise public awareness and highlight the issues we are going to be facing once Assad falls. There needs to be a public debate and we want to empower Syrians to do that." The First Report to out of our project can be downloaded in English (here) and in Arabic (here).

The activities currently undertaking by Fred Hoff and Robert Ford as described by the reporter fall in line with the approach that I have been advocating since the outset of the revolution. I just wish it didn’t take them so long to see the wisdom behind this approach, and I just that the administration realizes that all their efforts will be useless unless there is a will to intervene and be more actively involved in hastening the end of the Assad regime.

For the reality is, there is much disgruntlement within the ranks of the Baath Party itself with the “security solution” adopted by the Assads, but often officials who dare enough to voice their concerns and call out for serious reforms receive immediate threats from members of the Assad inner circle, including family members. This was the case recently with former Minister of Information, Muhammad Salman, who recently launched “the National Democratic Initiative,” which called on Assad to hold a national conference to chart a roadmap out of the current crisis. Salman seemed to be reaching out as, well to opposition groups calling for ouster of Assad, a move that reportedly angered Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Chawkat and his chief of security Ali Mamluke.

The simple truth is that Syria under Assad in 2012 is not Iraq under Saddam in 2003: official institutions, the private sector and the civil society at large have enough people with the necessary knowhow and leadership skills to take over the affairs of the state and keep it running and viable, and to help chart a path towards a more open system, inclusive and democratic system down the road under the leadership of protest leaders and the new political elite that is imposing itself on the scene internally. As such, the role of the expat community is not as vital in managing the transition as many policymakers have for long believed, and, perhaps, continue to believe.

Syria’s new leaders, political and technocratic, are inside the country for the most part. Yes, the technocrats are not “innocent,” most have certainly benefitted from involvement in the regime to enrich themselves, but most, nonetheless, are smart enough to see the writing on the wall that the Assads cannot. But they cannot stand up to Assad’s death squads on their own. The international community MUST intervene, before these leaders, too, become irrelevant to the unfolding processes, and extremists end up taking over.

Video Highlights

The town of Atareb, Aleppo Province, comes under renewed assault by  pro-Assad militias ,

In Rastan, Homs Province, members of a local FSA unit, open fire on loyalist troops trying to storm the town But pounding keeps claiming victims ,

In nearby town of Qusayr, the pounding keeps claiming children , And the old are suffering as well

In Talbisseh, the pounding and random shooting claim the lives of a number of locals ,  

In Homs City, the pounding of residential neighborhoods continues: Wadi Arab The old historic neighborhoods are being wiped out In Deir Baalbah, locals find three unidentified bodies thrown in the streets In Khaldiyeh, a shell explodes next to the local activist narrating what is taking place Another The pounding continues , , Martyrs , , In Bab Houd, three bodies stull lying in the streets, local unable to retrieve them

In Damascus City, inhabitants of Kafar Sousseh held a mass funeral for two local activists Just as hordes of pro-Assad militias watched on

In Deraa Province, near the town of Alma, pro-Assad militias pound a number of farms where locals are hiding

In Tahtaya village, Idlib Province, locals found five bodies, including those of three defectors, a child and an old man, near a loyalist checkpoints