Expat Syrians are hoping President Obama will take a tough line on Syria’s government ( Al-Jazeera English)
By Al Jazeera Staff
on April 23rd, 2011.
They’ve been protesting outside the White House, and, as Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett reports, they urging Obama to push for regime change.
But is it in the US interest to listen to them?
Just as an activist had told Al Jazeera earlier, Reuters reports that Syrian security forces have been carrying out raids in homes:
Secret police raided homes near Damascus overnight, rights campaigners said on Sunday, as popular
opposition to authoritarian President Bashar al-Assad mounted following the bloodiest attacks on pro-democracy protesters.
Security forces and gunmen loyal to Assad killed at least 112 people in the last two days when they fired at protests demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption on Friday and on mass funerals for victims a day later.
Baasam Haddad, Director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University, told Al Jazeera that today’s resignations equal “a point of no return” and “One of the indicators for a new stage”. He also talks about the power of Youtube videos showing Syrian forces shooting directly at protesters.
A rights activist – we’re not naming him for his own protection – told Al Jazeera that the city of Harasta is pretty much on lockdown.
Security forces were preventing people – even locals – from entering the city. The source described an atmosphere or fear and paranoia, saying that Syrian security forces entered homes, saying they were searching for weapons, only to “destroy everything in those houses”.
He said that even the homes of those who had neither protested in recent weeks nor attened the funerals of those who were killed on Friday were raided.
As a Syrian activist predicted, Syrian forces opened fire on the mouners at the funerals of some of those killed killed on Firday, the bloodiest day of protests in Syria yet.
Syrian forces killed at least 12 people on Saturday when they fired on mourners calling for the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule at mass funerals of pro-democracy protesters shot a day earlier.
Independent human rights organisation Sawasiah said security forces killed at least 12 people during the funerals in Damascus and surrounding areas and near the southern town of Izra’a.
‘There was a heavy volley of gunfire in our direction as we approached Izra’a to join the funerals of martyrs,’ a witness in Izra’a told Reuters.
[A screenshot of crowds attending a funeral in Barzah, from Reuters]
Nasser Weddady, an outreach director at the American Islamic Conference, which promotes civil liberties in the Middle East, said that the MP resignations on Al Jazeera were a “slap in the face” to al-Assad’s government.
“Right now the only option left for Bashar al-Assad is to deploy the armed forces because clearly the multiple intelligence services are unable to hold the people at bay,” he said.
“The moment of truth, the day or reckoning, will come when Bashar al-Assad is forced to deploy the military to the cities to quell the protest … that’s when we’ll understand how significant these cracks will be if the conscripts and the soldiers start refusing orders or even joining the protesters.”