We are now officially in Phase II of the Syrian Revolution, a phase marked by daily protests and straight out calls for the removal of Bashar Al-Assad. The upcoming repeal of emergency laws is way too little way too late. After all, the real problem is not confined to the law, it’s in the people making up the ruling junta, including Bashar and his family, the heads of the security apparatuses, and their clients and proxies in the Baath party, other loyal political movements and the society at large. So long as these people continue to be responsible for decision-making, and so long as free media remains chimera and the judiciary and legislative systems lack independence nothing will ever change in Syria. That is in short why this revolution is changing the regime and ousting the Assads, and not just repealing laws and asking for reforms. The system is simply rotten to the core.
Saturday marked another tragic day in the history of the Syrian Revolution as a child protester in Homs was felled by bullets of security officers, and the whole scene was captured on camera. He was one of two confirmed fatalities from Homs. Security crackdown was also reported in Rastan, where a status of hafiz Al-Assad was burned and destroyed on Friday, and Tablisseh where the head of the statue was taken to be hit with shoes. No word on exact number of casualties yet.
As protests spread across Syria, and the protesters prove to be more brave than intimidated by the use of live ammunition by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's security forces, one thing should be clear by now: This is indeed a revolution against tyranny.
anyas continues to be the main theater of developments at this stage. The hundreds of arrests that took place since Friday April 8 in Banyas have left many women and children to fend for themselves, especially in the village of Al-Bayda. But rather than quell the protest movement, the arrests and the bloody crackdown that took place (and the picture below shows just how bloody it was) inspired the long-dormant Aleppo to stir back to life, and drove Banyasi women and children to take to the streets to demand the return of their family members, effectively joining the protest movements, in a development that is likely to inspire women (and young teen) in other communities as well. The protests are widening.
Protests calling for regime fall followed by security crackdown, gunfire and funerals are now the norm in most Syrian cities and suburbs, with the exception of central Damascus and Aleppo, where the endgame will be played out at one point. But the coastal city of Banyas hosted today’s main event. Protesters report coming under heavy gunfire after coming out of Al-Rahman Mosque following Dawn prayers. They says that security forces, army troops and the Shabbiha (gangs whose membership derive from the larger Assad clan and who run large smuggling rings all over the coast) were working together. Soon after the first barrages which left three confirmed dead and a number of injured, some dissention with the ranks of the attackers seem to have taken place, but there is a conflict in eyewitness reports as to the exact nature of this development.
CAIRO — Dozens of communities across Syria erupted in protest on Friday in what activists said were by far the largest and bloodiest demonstrations against the iron rule of President Bashar al-Assad. While the number of protesters, said by some opposition activists to be in the hundreds of thousands, could not be independently confirmed, the size of the protests and their level of coordination suggest that Syria’s fragmented opposition movement is reaching new levels of coherence and organization.
As you read these words bear in mind that events continue tom unfold in the city of Deraa and Homs. Deraa, where we have more information at this stage, is currently under siege by new army units that seem to have been brought from Suweida City. Earlier reports of defections in the ranks of the army units already stationed in Deraa seem to have prompted this move, although the number of defectors seems to have been small, and many of them were shot by security forces loyal to Maher Al-Assad. We could be heading towards a major bloodbath anytime now. There is urgent need for an immediate international push to contain the situation before it escalates out of control. A strong message with warnings that violence would have major consequences needs to be sent to the Assads now, before it’s too late. Already the death toll is said to be around 100, with more than 500 wounded, many of whom in serious condition.
It seems that Assad is hoping that a few decrees will achieve what violence couldn’t. Today, Assad issued decrees granting citizenship to over 250,000 Kurds who have been deprived of it since the census of 1962. He also fired the governor of Homs and Deraa in the hope of appeasing the local populations. Yesterday, he called for closing the casino that had opened for business less than 2 months ago, and order the reinstatement of Niqab-clad teachers who had been removed from their positions last Summer when the regime flaunted its secular credentials to credulous western officials and experts.
A relatively quiet day that started with protests in the diverse (Druzes, Christians, Sunnis, Iraqi refugees) Damascene suburb of Jeramana, that was quickly dispelled by security forces who went to organize a pro-Assad rally, and ended with clashes between Kurdish protesters and security officers in Wadee Al-Masharee Suburb that reportedly left 7 protesters dead, although no further details are available about the incident.
Ammar Abdulhamid has emerged as the “unofficial spokesman” and most visible face of the Syrian revolutionary movement. One of the great weaknesses of the protest movement sweeping Syria has been the absence of any recognizable leadership. Syrians have been asking, “Shoo al-Badiil? – What is the alternative [to Bashar al-Assad]?” Today, one of the faces behind the extraordinary revolutionary movement sweeping the Middle East and driving the social media protest movement has emerged in an extended profile by Eli Lake in the Washington Times.
ather than trying to shed any lights on the real issues driving the protest movements, Bashar Al-Assad chose to go ahead with his plans to form new government, with the former Minister of Agriculture, Adel Safar, as the new PM. Meanwhile, Dounia TV, a channel known for its close links to the Assads, aired a program that named me, Radwan Ziadeh and Ausama Monajed, among other colleagues in the opposition, as being the masterminds of the revolution, operating in league with the CIA and the Mossad. We’re faltered of course, although, masterminding this revolution is an honor that none of us can seriously claim, despite the role we play in supporting it.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Assad security forces behave like invaders from outer space, the brainwashing that they have been subjected to over the years is enormous, and, as we have seen in the case of Gaddafi, regimes are always willing to provide lucrative incentives as reward for loyalty in times of crisis.
The very fact that so little bloodshed has taken place today is proof enough that security forces and Assad thugs have been behind the violence all along and that all talk of infiltrators and conspiracies is nonsensical. It also shows that when Bashar wants to he can control his security forces and the Shabbiha gangs, which puts the responsibility for all previous acts and occurrences of violence squarely on his shoulders. He is ultimately the one responsible and answerable for the deaths, the injuries, the arrests and the torture.
All those who keep betting on Assad the Reformer keep losing, as Assad holds on to his favorite title of Disappointment Maker. The new government is actually the old government with some old lower ranking officials now promoted to ministers as reward for loyalty and corruption. None of them has ever spoken of reform, none of them ever practiced it. They are true Assad loyalists indeed.
Today in Damascus: a small protest of 200 students broke out on the campus of the College of Sciences in Damascus. Some say that the protests were triggered by assaults by two men, who later turned up to be policemen, on veiled female students and ripping off their veils, in an act reminiscent of what security forces did in the 1980s. Others say that the protests and the attacks on veiled students are unrelated, although both are confirmed to have taken place by eyewitness accounts. Security forces managed to disperse the protesters rapidly, but only after beating one of them to death with their batons. The development serves to underscore of organizing protests in central Damascus (and by comparison Aleppo), where heavy security presence, preemptive arrests and interrogations allow for nipping protests at the bud.
As expected today was a day of mourning and burying some of the dead, those whose bodies could be located and identified. But it was also a day for losing more people to sniper bullets and barrages of gunfire from security force. The situation was its worst in Deraa, Homs, Lattakia and Banyas where army units continue to lay siege to main towns and cities. As of the moment of writing these words, Tildo Town in Homs and the City of Banyas could be witnessing major upheavals as army units attempt to reassert control over them. Tildo already reported 12 people between dead and injured in Bloody Friday’s showdown.
Most major Syrian cities and town, and many smaller ones, witnesses major protests today, with an estimated 500,000 people taking to the streets today to demand freedom and an end to the Assad dynasty long and corrupt rule. At first things seemed to be going calmly, until security began trying to break up the protests using tear gas then life ammunition, leading to major casualties in Deraa, Homs, Latakia, and Harasta.
Assad security forces opened fire on protesters in Deraa leaving dozens wounded and 4 confirmed fatalities so far, although other reports put the number closer to 20. Inhabitants of other cities and town in Horan rushed to the aid of the people in Deraa as we have seen before. By the time they arrived, the security forces had withdrawn, leaving much weapons behind, which the protesters set aside, seeing the act of abandoning weapons as a trick to lure them into suing violence. There have also been reports of clashes between army troops and members of the security forces, but further confirmation is still needed.
Syrian President Bashar Assad made new concessions Thursday to the country's minority Kurdish population after some members joined pro-democracy demonstrators, threatening to create a new flank in Assad's political crisis.
Deadly overnight clashes in Mouaddamiyyah led to daytime protests and tearing down of Assad posters and chants of “The People Want To Topple the Regime.” Despite the conservative nature of Mouaddamiyyah, women participated in droves, often leading the chants.
As Douma set about burying its martyrs, condoled by thousands of supporters pouring from nearby suburbs, and as arrests continue to mount in Homs, Deraa and Aleppo, where arrests are meant to preempt revolution, reports from the Alawite strongholds in the mountains of Lattakia indicate that all is not well in what should be the bastion of loyalty to Assad rule.
If hundreds of arrests in Deraa City, Douma and Homs don’t count as noise, even though they were accompanied by barrages of gunfire and clashed with local inhabitants in Al-Bayadeh Neighborhood and surrounding areas in Homs, don’t count as noise, than things were relatively quiet in Syria today. But it’s another quiet before another storm hits. Tomorrow is set to be a day of morning in Douma as inhabitants bury the dead. As these words are written, already reports of gunfire in that Damascene suburb whose inhabitants are always proud of their critical role in opposing the French occupation, have trickled, although no further details are provided.