Syria conflict

163 posts / 0 new
Last post
Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 25 2011 10:01
Syria conflict

AJE: Syria live blog

admin: thread was originally named "Syria protests". Renamed later to be more appropriate

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 25 2011 11:18

Guardian

Quote:
Rights activists described Wednesday's shootings in the southern city of Daraa as a massacre, claiming that more than 100 people may have been killed when troops fired on a mosque in the early hours and throughout the day.

With protests called for after Friday prayers, Buthaina Shaaban, adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, announced that the government would consider ending Syria's emergency law and revise legislation for political parties and the media. Similar reform pledges have been announced in the past, and are unlikely to satisfy protesters.

In Deraa, funeral-goers chanted "God, Syria, Freedom" and "The blood of martyrs is not spilt in vain!", Reuters news agency reported. Some reports said that up to 20,000 people attended, but this could not be verified. The city has been cordoned off.

Deraa's hospital reported receiving 37 bodies from Wednesday's violence. YouTube videos apparently showed bloody scenes at the mosque.

Electricity and communications in the city were cut before the attack, which sources said was by a unit of forces headed by the president's brother, Maher al-Assad.

"This is a crime against humanity because forces opened fire on unarmed civilians without any warning," said Radwan Ziadeh, head of the Damascus Centre for Human Rights and a visiting scholar at Harvard University.

"Eyewitnesses say security forces stopped ambulances from helping. This would be a violation of international humanitarian law."

The Omari mosque became a focal point and makeshift hospital when protests started a week ago; many people were afraid to go to the main hospital for fear of arrest, said Ziadeh. He alleged that more than 300 people had been detained in Deraa.

In a sign of the seriousness of the unrest, the Syrian pound's value on the black market dropped to its lowest rate since Syria was forced to pull its troops out of Lebanon in 2005, local traders said.

There has been no notable unrest in Damascus city centre, but the streets are unusually quiet while pro-Assad cars honk horns and wave flags and photographs of the president.

Observers say it is unclear whether the government can quell unrest…

AJE: Syria braces for 'day of dignity' rallies

AP: Syrian regime offers promise of change

Qunfuz: Syria shaking

Videos from Daraa

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 25 2011 19:23
Quote:
Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said.

Soldiers shot at demonstrators in the restive southern city of Deraa after crowds set fire to a bronze statue of the country's late president, Hafez Assad, a resident told The Associated Press. Heavy gunfire could be heard in the city center and witnesses reported several casualties, the resident said on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
 
An activist told the AP that witnesses had reported one demonstrator shot dead by security forces in the coastal city of Latakia, and another slain in the central city of Homs. He said several people had been hospitalized in Latakia.
 
In the capital, Damascus, people shouting in support of the Deraa protesters clashed with regime supporters outside the historic Umayyad mosque, hitting each other with leather belts.
 
The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Deraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online.
 
The demonstrations and ensuing crackdown were a major escalation of the showdown between President Bashar Assad's regime and the crowds in Deraa who -- inspired by pro-democracy unrest elsewhere in the Arab World -- began protesting conditions in the drought-stricken south last week in demonstrations that have now spread around the country.
 
An activist in Damascus in touch with eyewitnesses in the southern village of Sanamein said troops there opened fire on demonstrators trying to march to Deraa, a short distance away. He said there had been witness reports of fatalities, some claiming as many as 20 slain, but those could not be independently confirmed.
 
Much of Damascus was tense, with convoys of young people roaming the streets in their cars, honking incessantly and waving out pictures of Bashar Assad and Syrian flags. The convoys briefly blocked streets in some areas.
 
About 200 people demonstrated after the Friday prayers at the Thawra Bridge, near the central Marjeh Square, chanting "our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Daraa!" and "freedom! freedom!" They were chased by security forces who beat them some of them with batons and detained others, an activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.
 
Thousands flooded Deraa's central Assad Square before the shooting broke out, many from nearby villages, chanting "Freedom! Freedom!" and waving Syrian flags and olive branches, a resident told The Associated Press by telephone.
 
Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, he claimed that more than 50,000 people were shouting slogans decrying presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban, who promised Thursday that the government would consider a series of reforms in response to a week of unrest in Deraa.
 
A human rights activist, quoting witnesses, said thousands of people gathered in the town of Douma outside the capital, Damascus, pledging support for the people of Deraa. The activists asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
 
Security forces dispersed the crowd by chasing them away, beating some with batons and detaining others, an activist said, asking that his name not be published for fear of reprisals by the government.
 
In the city of Aleppo, hundreds of worshippers came out of mosques shouting "with our lives, our souls, we sacrifice for you Bashar" and "Only God, Syria and Bashar!"
 
Residents in Homs said hundreds of people demonstrated in support of Daraa and demanded reforms.

The activist said that in Latakia, more than 1000 people marched in the streets after Friday prayers. In the northern city of Raqqa, scores marched and several people were detained, he said.
 
And in the western city of Zabadani, near the border with Lebanon, several people were detained after protesting, he said...

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/374398

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 25 2011 19:53

Videos from today's protests

Syria Comment

Live updates on Syria’s uprising

The last link looks like the one to follow for keeping up with events in Syria

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 26 2011 12:16

Al-bab.com: Assad waving goodbye?

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 27 2011 10:13

Al-bab.com: Revolutionary updates, 27 March

Arabist: Thoughts on some friends' Syria analysis

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 27 2011 10:18

Syria, the anti-imperialist view

Quote:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday charged the United States was trying to oust Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad, to seize the country's resources...

Chavez, who said he had spoken with Assad by phone, compared the Syrian situation with the crisis in Libya, where an international coalition with UN backing has been striking at forces loyal to its leader, Moammar Qaddafi, for a week.

"It's the same model," charged Chavez. "Generate internal conflicts, bloodshed, in a country in order to then step in, seize its natural resources and make it a colony. It is a new model they have come up with."...

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Mar 27 2011 10:45

http://supportkurds.org/news/prisoners-who-have-completed-at-least-three-quarters-of-their-sentences/

Quote:
Reuters: Syrian authorities released 260 prisoners, mostly Islamists, from Saydnaya jail on Friday, a human rights lawyer said. “These are prisoners who have completed at least three-quarters of their sentences and are entitled to be freed but the authorities rarely granted them that right before,” the rights lawyer, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

http://supportkurds.org/sks/syrian-revolution/

Tojiah's picture
Tojiah
Offline
Joined: 2-10-06
Mar 27 2011 17:00

Every uprising the US doesn't like is a communist plot/Islamist conspiracy, every uprising the "Anti-Imperialists" don't like is an American plot. This is the creationism of political theory.

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Mar 28 2011 03:59
Quote:
President Bashar al-Assad, facing the gravest crisis in his 11-year rule, deployed the army in Syria's main port of Latakia for the first time after nearly two weeks of protests spread across the country....State television showed deserted streets in Latakia littered with rubble and broken glass and burnt-out vehicles...."There is a feeling in Latakia that the presence of disciplined troops is necessary to keep order," one resident told Reuters. "We do not want looting." ...The unrest in Syria came to a head after police detained more than a dozen schoolchildren for scrawling graffiti inspired by pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.

- from here .

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 29 2011 10:52

Democracy Now video report on Syria

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Mar 29 2011 14:21

Syrian Government Resigns in Wake of Violent Demonstrations.

Jacques Roux's picture
Jacques Roux
Offline
Joined: 17-07-06
Mar 29 2011 22:28

Thanks for the links, anything good around about Jordan?

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Mar 29 2011 23:21

Jacques - to be honest I haven't really been following events in Jordan, but this long post and its follow up on the Black Iris blog are interesting. In this case the blogger seems to be a supporter of the monarchy and protest sceptic who is now in the process of becoming disillusioned with the regime because of the violent crackdown on protestors.

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Apr 1 2011 20:36

Videos from today's protests

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Apr 9 2011 16:17

More State killings yesterday:

Quote:
A Syrian rights group said on Saturday that security forces killed at least 37 people during Friday's demonstrations across the country.
The National Organization for Human Rights said in a statement that 30 people were killed in the southern city of Deraa, the epicenter of protests. It added that three people were killed in the central city of Homs and three others in Harasta, a Damascus suburb, as well as one in Douma.

Lurch
Offline
Joined: 15-10-05
Apr 14 2011 19:00

Small incident, important implications. Some Syrian troops refuse to fire on demonstrators. So Syrian secret service fire on troops ...

From here:
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/227170-Syrian-soldiers-shot-for-refusing-to-fire-on-protesters

rooieravotr
Offline
Joined: 28-10-09
Apr 15 2011 12:56
Quote:
Some Syrian troops refuse to fire on demonstrators. So Syrian secret service fire on troops ...

Some doubts about what happened in that case...

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Apr 15 2011 23:16

Friday protests: report and videos

Quote:
Syria has got its first million man protest Friday officially today...

NowLebanon still looks like the best site for live updates from Syria

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Apr 28 2011 13:10

Some good pieces from Bob Fisk (who has a long-term committment to Lebanon, which is always and inevitably affected by events in Syria) in the last weeks:

15 Apr: 'The Arab awakening began not in Tunisia this year, but in Lebanon in 2005'

Quote:
Take the first uprising against Bashar al-Assad in Deraa [...] A place of historical rebellion, some youths had painted anti-Assad graffiti on a wall. The Syrian security police followed their normal practice of dragging the young men to the cop shop, beating and torturing them. But then their mothers arrived to demand their release. They were verbally abused by the police.

Then – much more seriously – a group of tribal elders went to see the Deraa governor to demand an explanation for the behaviour of the police.

Each placed his turban on the governor's desk, a traditional gesture of negotiation; they would only replace their turbans when the matter had been resolved. But the governor, a crusty old Baathist and regime-loyalist, took the turban of the most prestigious sheikh, threw it on the floor of his office and stamped on it.

The people of Deraa came out in their thousands to protest; the shooting started; Bashar hastily dismissed his governor and replaced him. Too late. The fire had been lit. In Tunisia, an unemployed young man who set himself alight. In Syria, a turban. [...]

Bit of a wide-ranging ramble around the region, but worth taking in in it's entirety. Not least in relation to the worrying evidence of possible Israeli and Iranian/Hezbollah preparations for a Souith Lebanon rematch to stabilise the situation by undermining the revolutionary upheaval in the region.

25 Apr: Shifting blame to Lebanon may be the method in Assad's madness

Quote:
[...]According to Human Rights Watch's senior researcher on Syria, Nadim Houry, the death toll since the demonstrations began now totals 300. "It's clear that the Syrian security forces are ready to go very far to quell this," he says. "As far as this goes – and the other revolutions – it's a blast from the past. These regimes don't learn from each other – the protesters do. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. The language of the regimes – of foreign plots – is falling apart; people don't buy it any more."

Ironically, President Obama was the only international leader to suggest a "foreign hand" in Syria's crisis. He said that Iran was supporting the "outrageous" behaviour of the Syrian authorities.

Many Arabs were appalled that Mr Obama would apparently try to make cheap propaganda over the tragedy – there is, in fact, not the slightest evidence that Iran has been actively involved with the events in Syria – when he might have been dignified enough to have sent his sympathy to the mourners and told the protesters that America was with them.

But as Nadim Houry says, many regimes in the region – the Saudis, the Iranians, the Israelis and Turkey, for example – will be happy if Bashar Assad survives. "The real problem is, where do you go from here?" he says. "The regime has drawn its 'line in the sand'.
[...]

Here is the difference between Libya and Syria. Ghaddafi's Libya was isolated, the (non-Israeli) regional power-brokers - the Saudis and the Turks - were happy to hang Ghaddafi out to dry (the Saudis in return for an understanding that the US and EU would look the other way while they crushed Shia civil unrest in the Eastern Province and Bahrain). But the prospect of what might come out of the fall of Assad is so daunting to all the local imperialists, that not only Syria's ally Iran, but even the normally hostile Turkey, Israel and Saudi axis are united in believing it's a case of "better the devil you know".

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Apr 28 2011 15:08

Just confirming that Israeli line on Syria

JPost: ''Bloodbath' would follow overthrow of Assad in Syria'

Quote:
[...] From an Israeli perspective, decision-makers have grown accustomed to “the Satan that we know,” Zisser [Tel Aviv Uni prof] said, referring to Assad.
[...]
ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Apr 28 2011 15:42

and some background to the Turkish r/c interests

Zawya: Turkey scrambles to cajole Syria into reform

Quote:
[...] Ankara however is opposed to international sanctions on Damascus because it "does not believe in their efficiency," he added.

After decades of animosity, Turkish-Syrian relations thawed in 1998, when Turkish threats of military action forced Syria to expel Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who guided a bloody Kurdish insurgency in southeast Turkey from his safe haven in Damascus.

The ties flourished after Erdogan's Islamist-rooted ruling party came to power in 2002 and launched a drive for a Turkish leadership role in the Muslim world.

Since then, bilateral trade has more than tripled, reaching $2.5 billion in 2010, and the two countries have introduced a visa-free travel regime for their citizens.

In February, Turkey and Syria began building a joint dam at their frontier, announcing also projects to set up a joint bank, inaugurate a cross-border high speed train and link their natural gas networks.

Turkey's National Security Council, where civilian and military leaders meet, was to discuss the situation in Syria Thursday as Ankara worries that deepening instability in its southern neighbour could have a spill-over effect.

The possibility of an exodus from Syria to Turkey is a matter of concern, said a government official who declined to be named.

"It would create a security problem as it would be difficult to distinguish between civilians and PKK people," he said, referring to Ocalan's separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which enjoys a support base among Syria's Kurds.

In another dilemma for Turkey, some observers have also pointed out that democratic change and Assad's departure would strengthen Syria's Kurds, which could also play into PKK hands and fan Kurdish separatism in the region.

"Ankara prefers that the Assad regime takes quick steps to satisfy the people and secure calm in the country. That would mean... political change without the change of the leader," foreign policy analyst Sami Kohen wrote in the Milliyet daily.

The prospect of regional breakdown of Syria into autonomous "national" regions, was also mentioned in the JPost piece linked above, to whit:

Quote:
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of Bar Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that “everything we knew” about Syria has become outdated due to recent events.

Kedar, who served for 25 years in military intelligence, and specialized in Syria, added that the Muslim Brotherhood “are in the background, not as an organized group... but as an idea.”

Kedar agreed with Zisser’s evaluation that a collapse of the Assad regime would result in large-scale violence, adding that Syria could split up into smaller states following civil strife.

In such a scenario, “many Muslims will chase Alawites with knives – who would in turn have to flee to the Ansariya mountains in western Syria, their traditional lands,” Kedar said. “In such a case, Syria could be divided into six parts: an Alawite state in the West; a Kurdish state in the North, as in Iraq; a Druse state in the South; and a Beduin state in the east, in the Dir al-Zur region. A Sunni Muslim state in Damascus and another in Aleppo could also rise” he added.

“Six homogenous states could appear on the ruins of Syria,” Kedar said.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Apr 28 2011 18:32
Dr. Mordechai Kedar wrote:
In such a scenario, “many Muslims will chase Alawites with knives – who would in turn have to flee to the Ansariya mountains in western Syria, their traditional lands,” Kedar said. “In such a case, Syria could be divided into six parts: an Alawite state in the West; a Kurdish state in the North, as in Iraq; a Druse state in the South; and a Beduin state in the east, in the Dir al-Zur region. A Sunni Muslim state in Damascus and another in Aleppo could also rise” he added.

“Six homogenous states could appear on the ruins of Syria,” Kedar said.

I think he is a bit in his own world. Is the idea of a state of the 700,000 Druze really a realistic perspective?

Devrim

Tojiah's picture
Tojiah
Offline
Joined: 2-10-06
Apr 28 2011 18:55
Devrim wrote:
Dr. Mordechai Kedar wrote:
In such a scenario, “many Muslims will chase Alawites with knives – who would in turn have to flee to the Ansariya mountains in western Syria, their traditional lands,” Kedar said. “In such a case, Syria could be divided into six parts: an Alawite state in the West; a Kurdish state in the North, as in Iraq; a Druse state in the South; and a Beduin state in the east, in the Dir al-Zur region. A Sunni Muslim state in Damascus and another in Aleppo could also rise” he added.

“Six homogenous states could appear on the ruins of Syria,” Kedar said.

I think he is a bit in his own world. Is the idea of a state of the 700,000 Druze really a realistic perspective?

Devrim

I imagine his 25 years in Israeli military intelligence have formed a lot of his opinions. He is also the chair of Israel Academia Monitor. From their mission statement:

Quote:
IAM is a non-profit, grassroots organization comprising citizens who, while strongly advocating free speech and academic freedom, are seriously concerned about the growing tendency to distort and abuse these two essential characteristics of a democratic society. Of particular concern are academics who defame their own universities and advocate measures that will harm Israel in general and their universities in particular by using unbalanced prejudiced arguments that fail to live up to the scholarship standards expected of the universities they represent.
...
Largely thanks to the work of IAM, the 2010 annual meetings of the Board of Governors of Israeli universities discussed, for the first time, the disturbing influence of anti-Israel ideologue professors on Israeli university campuses and how these faculty have often taken a leading role in anti-Israel activities. This year, the work of IAM was also enclosed in two important reports delivered to the Knesset Educational Committee and the Minister of Education. In the first report*, IAM detailed recent calls by Israeli academics for a boycott of the very academic and cultural institutions that employ them. This same report also documented instances where pro-Israel students faced intimidation and discrimination from these anti-Israel ideologues. The second report** includes many postings taken from the IAM website.

Yes, he definitely lives in his own world, a well-funded, tenured world of Israeli right-wing exteremism.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Apr 28 2011 22:41

I don't think that any of the regional powers want to break up of Syria, which is one of the reasons why al-Assad will be able to massacre at will, unlike Gadaffi. Of course the very idea of a Kurdish state is anathema to Turkey.

Devrim

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Apr 29 2011 15:29

Yes, sorry, I should have been more explicit - I wasn't suggesting that either of those perspective was particularly realistic or had any interest to us other than being an illustration of the kinds fears and concerns being voiced by members of the respective countries establishments. The idea of a Druze state is pretty bonkers.

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
May 1 2011 23:00
Quote:
An eyewitness tells Al Jazeera that popular committees have set up makeshift barriers dividing the coastal city of Baniyas between north and south to protect residents against pro-regime thugs. The northern part of the city is in the hands of the government and is controlled by secret police and the military while the southern part of the city is controlled by the protesters, he said.

“People have set up popular committees to keep out the thugs,” he said. “They have made small barriers of stones and bricks manned by eight to ten guards from the popular committees.”

On Tuesday this week Baniyas locals reported a military and security build-up around the oil refining city, including by members of the Assad-controlled gangs, known as shabeha, in preparation for a possible assault.

The eyewitness told Al Jazeera that guards from the popular committees had stones and sticks to defend themselves, but no weapons.

http://blogs.aljazeera.net/live/middle-east/syria-live-blog-may-1

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
May 3 2011 22:59
Quote:
In Syria, days after tanks rolled through the streets in Daraa, the BBC is now reporting that tanks have surrounded the coastal city of Baniyas. According to activists, both the northern and the southern gates have been blocked by soldiers, and small arms have been distributed to government supporters in the surrounding villages.

EA liveblog

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
May 5 2011 11:49

From the Angry Arab blog

Quote:
A reader sent me this:
Quote:
I've been waiting to leave Syria to write you. I'm an American who has been living in Damascus for the past year. It's been incredibly frustrating to be over there and reading blogs like ... which have become hugely focused, obsessive even, about the prospect of a fitna in Syria.

I remember one article ... which basically said if you are a well-off Christian or Alawi Syrian, you aren't against the regime. While I think there was a more basic truth to that before, a problem with these analysts is they are not living in Syria and can't see the events changing on the ground. I have seen so many of my Christian and even some Alawi friends change camp so fast it made my head spin.

While the events in Egypt were happening I asked many of them "Do you think something like that could ever happen here?" and they all tutted their tongues and said "Never, we love our president, the only ones who don't are the Muslim Brotherhood." Those same people, literally just 2 months later, were subscribing to opposition newspapers (communist mostly), organizing meetings, and cursing Assad.

It's strange, and it's unpredictable, but I doubt that it's a phenomenon restricted to my group of contacts. I'd also like to point out, that of this group of friends, only the ones living in Latakia have gone out to protest. My friends in Damascus, especially the ones who changed camp complain "We want to do something but we don't know how yet!" They don't have the contacts to know where the protests will begin or how to get in touch with the larger opposition.

If they are at all representative of the larger population, there are still tons and tons of people ready to take to the streets in Damascus that haven't found the opportune moment yet. I would guess that once Damascus gets to that tipping point of chaos like Homs, Daraa or Latakia, you will see that the opposition is much bigger than a lot of these analysts imagined.

At the same time, I have to admit there have been several events which point to the great tension and possibility for violent conflict laying beneath the surface, which haven't been reported on…

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
May 6 2011 16:07

Both Guardian and Al Jazeera mentioned unconfirmed reports of soldiers firing on security forces in Homs.

Quote:
6:36pm Army units and security forces have clashed in Homs, two eyewitnesses have told Al Jazeera.

After security forces opened fire earlier today on tens of thousands of protesters the crowd ran for cover, some seeking shelter behind army vehicles, one eyewitness said.

"Then the security started shooting at the vehicles - at both the army and the protesters, and the army shot back," he said.

Both eyewitnesses confirm that the shooting is ongoing and taking place in Bab Draib and Bab Amer.

Residents of Homs have formed a human shield around the main hospital in Bab al-Sebah where many wounded protesters have been taken, said one eyewitness.

Al Jazeera has no means of verifying the claims.

AJ: Syria Live Blog May 6

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
May 9 2011 11:03

Mazen Kamalmaz: réflexions sur la révolution syrienne

machine translation