News Round Up
SYRIAN REVOLUTION NEWS ROUND UP…..
Day 6: Monday, 21 March 2011
Protests in Syria are no longer restricted to Daraa City, but now expanded to included many of towns and villages nearby, especially Jassem, Daael, Sanamain and Inkhil. Still several arrests were reported and hundreds are reported missing.
In Jassem, the demonstration began when Imams called out from Mosques saying “People of Dignity, People of Honour, your folk in Daraa are being slaughtered.” 1,500 gathered within minutes. “The demonstration came in response to the siege of Deraa City” one eyewitness said. “We walked in the direction of Abu Tammam Square… People wanted to go and throw stones at the District Director, but we insisted on keeping tings peaceful by chanting “Silmiyyah.” Party officials came to us and asked us what we want, we said: “freedom.” That ended our communication. “
In Inkhel, the inhabitants destroyed the local party headquarter, and tore a posted of the President. It seems things will continue to escalate until next Friday. The demonstration ended in Inkhel without a single security officer showing his face.
In Daraa, the statue of Hafiz Al-Assad in the main square was demolished yesterday, all posters of Bashar were torn, and “Down With Assad” slogan was sprayed on walls of many of schools.
In Qamishly, Kurds poured into the streets to celebrate Newruz. Though no clashes with authority were reported, speakers at the celebrations called for ending state of emergency, release of political prisoners, and respect for political freedoms. In a gesture of support to the revolution, protesters raised the Syrian flag on the stage. At night, celebrations turned to protests, with protesters filling the narrow streets of the city, shouting “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom” and cars honked their horns.
Small demonstrations continued to take part in various Damascene neighbourhoods and suburbs, including Kafar Sousseh, Douma, Mouaddamiyah and Al-Hajar Al-Asw
Syrian Revolution News Round-upDay 7: Tuesday, 22 March 2011The major story today was supposed to be the sit-in planned to take place in front of the Main Court House in Old Damascus, but on account of heavy security presence the event fizzled out. As a result, protest organizers on Facebook decided to refrain from announcing details of planned gatherings until they are actually taking place. “Security people were expecting us, and made sure that even ordinary passersby didn’t linger in front of the Court House. Whenever they suspected someone of being a participant, they stayed close, uttered threats of violence if he/she lingered. Several of us tried a number of times to come together and stay, but we were too small and easily crowded out by security. From now on, we will refrain from announcing details of our gatherings. ” said one eyewitness.New arrests are reported in Banyas, Aleppo, Damascus and Suweida. Hundreds of arrests are said to have taken place in Banyas since last Friday’s protests in which thousands took place. A number of children have been arrested, roughed up then released in Aleppo for publicly discussing the events in Deraa. In Damascus, author Louay Al-Hussain was arrested, and his computers were confiscated. In Suweida, human rights defender Muntaha Al-Atrash gave a brave interview to Orient TV in which she announced that she had joined the revolution. Muntaha is the daughter of Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash, one of the famed leaders of the Syrian Revolution against the French.Growing anger amongst Syrians aginst Aljazeera Network. This frustration was expressed widely through social media networks and through videos arriving from Syria where demonstrators are asking “Where is Aljazeera?”. Al-Jazeerah continues to treat the matter nonchalantly. Syria has always been a redline.
Earlier in the day, security fired at protesters in Deraa, to disperse a gathering in which people chanted anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah slogans: No to Iran, No to Hezbollah. We want Muslims that fear Allah. This comes amidst growing rumors that Hezbollah members and Iranian advisors are taking part in the crackdown, even as their leaders have praised the revolution in Egypt.
At Al-Karamah Square, protesters brought tents and are planning to stay there until Friday.
Day 8 – Massacre in Daraa: Wednesday, 23 March 2011The main focus of the uprising continues to be Daraa in Southern Syria. Assad regime seems to have made the decision to end the uprising in Daraa through the use of force. A full-scale attack was mounted at early dawn on Omari Mosque in downtown Daraa, which has become a gathering place for the protesters and a field hospital of sorts. Heavy gunfire and numerous casualties reported. Imams called from Minarets on people to come to the rescue. Power supply is down all over the city, and thousands of people have poured into the streets. Explosions also reported. Syrian security forces is the party r esponsible for the attack. Twitter-verse managed to provide immediate coverage resulting in prompt media reports and live interviews on Al-Arabiya TV.
The numbers of how many dead and injured are hard to confirm on account of the information blackout imposed by the regime. Most news agencies seem willing to report that 15 are confirmed dead, but activists on the ground report that the number is well beyond 150, as many of the wounded were in serious condition when they were removed from the streets by army vehicle and taken to unknown destinations. Sources confirm that they were not taken to any hospitals in Daraa or surrounding counties.
The massacre received wide international attention, with many media outlets reporting on it as it happened, due to buzz generated on Twitter and outreach efforts by exiled activists and human rights groups. Meanwhile, Syrian officials are mounting an extensive public relations campaign, as their spokesmen flood TV stations speaking as if they were members of the opposition, calling for reforms, admitting mistakes, saying the “President” intends to call for a major conference on political reform, all while raising all sorts of doubts about foreign agendas, infiltrators and suspicious happenings in Daraa. This is an old tactic and, despite the greater exposure by Syrians to different versions of the “truth” thanks to social media tools satellite channels, it can still be effective, among those too scared to act ad are in search of excuses and justifications for their behavior.
How effective this tactic will be demonstrated on coming Friday. Activists are calling for mass demonstrations to take place following the Noon prayers, the size of the crowds willing to respond will divulge much about the pace, course and nature of events in the days and weeks to come.
Day 11: Sat, 26 March 2011
The Battle Moves North!Anarchy in Lattakia. Relative quiet on the Southern Front. The momentum of Syria’s ongoing revolution shifted northward on Saturday, with the coastal city of Lattakia becoming the stage for the major events of the day. The city had joined the revolutionary fray on Friday, and clashes between protesters on the one hand, and security forces supported by gangs of smugglers, known as the Shabbiha, many of whom are of Alawite descent and closely affiliated with different members of the Assad-Makhlouf Clan and who for long treated Lattakia as their favorite in-country playground, continued through the night.
After the Shabbiha opened fire on protesters from their cars and from rooftops, killing around 17 and wounding dozens, protesters withdrew to the narrow alleyways, where people through rocks and garbage cans on passing security cars. By late Saturday evening, local notables formed councils that worked on reconciliation with the security forces and some of the Shabbiha. The situation seems to be under official control now. But the city remains under siege, with no one allowed in or out.
Day 13: Monday, 28 March 2011
A Page Out of the Old Book!All Not So Quiet on the Western Front.Appearances aside, things were not so quiet in Syria on Monday. Deraa witnessed mass protests which led to the usual crackdown by security forces leaving a reported 5 protesters dead. Meanwhile, Lattakia’s Sleibeh Neighborhood was transformed into a new Tahrir-like square, all with a central platform, speakers and public debates over nature and extant of demands. Reports say that some troubles took place early on the day as the stage was being set, but there are no confirmed reports of casualties.
Damascus was not completely quiet as small, with a small demonstration in Jeramana Suburb leading to a swift crackdown.
Lattakia: “We’re not Terrorists” – Protesters take on Bouthaina Shaaban’s statement yesterday that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the events in Sleibeh, and urge people to give an accurate picture to the media. “There is no sectarianism. We need to decide what we want, and who can speak in our name. We came out in peaceful protests, but on TV, they’re depicting us as terrorists. They’re putting guns and bullets next to our martyrs and videotape them. Our most important demand that the truth gets told. Today we buried six martyrs. Bouthaina Shaaban said that we killed 10 security people yesterday, but yesterday we protected two of them and delivered them to the Mayor, although they came to destroy…” Protesters chant: “One Hand, One Hand.” Another Speaker: “Please don’t spread rumours. There is no more fear… Put any knives away.”
Tomorrow, Tuesday, is set to witness big demonstrations organized by the state in support of Assad. The event is being planned in the usual way: forcing army recruits doing their obligatory military service to attend dressed in civics, alongside middle and high school students, college students, public sector employees, and, with a new twist in these last few years, private sector employees working for companies owned by Assad’s cousins, other relatives and their lackey and partners.
Bashar Assad may choose to speak in one of these demonstrations and may introduce his reforms, or at least address recent turmoil. But whatever he says, the very nature of the show: staged demos in which people are blackmailed and bribed into feigning support, dancing and shouting their hearts out for the love of the Syrian Idol, serves to reinforce the protesters in their demands for Assad’s ouster and regime fall. In other words, regardless of what happens tomorrow, the very fact that it will take place has already strengthened the resolve of the protesters, and the revolution will continue with eyes already set on this coming Friday: the Friday of Martyrdom.
Day 14: Déjà Vu Revisited!
Away from the farce of pro-regime demonstrations, and media attention, a revolution continues to unfold, as major Anti-Assad rallies took place in Lattakia, Deraa and Douma.
News of the pro-regime demonstrations dominated news today, alongside those of Assad’s cabinet resignation. But the most important tidbit in this regard was the confusion over when Bashar Assad will choose to address the people and explain his reform initiative, if he has any. But in the parallel universes represented by the Province of Deraa and the City of Lattakia, and away from media attention, major protests continued to unfold. The Town of Douma on the periphery of Damascus also witnessed a major protest, with people shouting the by-now all too famous slogan “The People Want to Topple the Regime.”
The day started as predicated mass pro-regime demonstrations organized in the usual fashion: forcing public sector employees, college students and army recruits doping their obligatory military service to take part or else. Private sector employees working for the various companies owned by Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, among other relatives, partners and lackeys were also forced and/or cajoled to take part. Still, the results was less daunting than the usual million men marches that the regime used to be able to organize at the drop of a hat.
Be that as it may, as far as protesters are concerned, the show served to render meaningless a scheduled speech by Assad, seeing that by continuing to rely on such old tactics, he showed himself to be incapable of reform. For this, delaying was not of major substance for most protesters, albeit it did serve to fuel much rumors and speculations over potential dispute between Maher and Bashar as to how the current crisis can be bet handled.
All in all, spokesmen for the protesters in Arab and international media, including yours truly, were more interested in highlighting the following basic facts and observations:
1-That the protests managed to cause of fall of the government within less than two weeks.
2-That the pro-regime demonstrations were arranged to provide Bashar with a face-saving platform from which to announce his concessions.
3-That whatever concessions offered by Bashar will not go far enough as far the protesters are concerned, as they are unlikely to include Bashar’s resignation and the handing of power to a transitional council.
4-That by orchestrating the usual farcical demonstrations, Bashar’s reveals that could never be a reformer.
5-That more people are now likely to join the protests due to sense of humiliation that accompanied the pro-regime rallies.
6-That the revolution will continue and will engulf other cities and towns throughout Syria.
7-That the lack of violence during the pro-regime rallies is clear indication as to who is behind the violence that took place earlier, i.e. the regime itself.
8-That the violent slogans adopted by regime-supporters during the rallies, including “Don’t worry Bashar, you have behind you men who will drink blood,” is clear indication of where the threat of violence lies and who will be behind it.
9-That the revolution will continue irrespective of this development.
Meanwhile, Lattakia witnesses major protests in which participants called for toppling the regime. The protesters ended up gathering in Sleibeh Neighborhood, and when the army moved to besiege the protesters, they received them with joy and gave them water to quench their thirst. The people of Deraa had done the same hours before the massacred. Will the same take place ion Lattakia now? It’s anyone’s guess, but the situation remains tense, and the protesters are still camped in the streets. The death toll of the crackdown over the last few days has now risen to 25, with 20 bodied having been removed by the army from hospitals in order to prevent funerals. The protesters of Lattkia are encouraging colleagues in cities across Syria to emulate their example.
Deraa City and environs, too, witnessed mass protests, with protesters raising slogans against the official Syrian media accusing it of treason for not portraying the truths about developments in their province.
There was also a major demonstration of protests in Douma. The point was to show that even as staged pro-Assad rallies were taking place in Damascus, protesters were capable of holding their own demonstrations with respectable turnout as well. Too bad media was absent there as well.
Day 16: The Bad Man Behind Blue Eyes Loses Mask!
Following the example of Saif Gaddafi, Bashar Al-Assad sheds reformist guise.
This was it. Today was Bashar Al-Assad’s long-awaited moment to settle the decade-long debate on his so-called crypto-reform impulses. And he did. But in doing so, he dashed the hopes of his own supporters, further alienated the large segment of the population still considering its options, and hardened the stand of protesters.
Minutes after Assad finishes his speech, protesters in Daraa and Lattakia chanted for freedom and called for toppling the regime d Bashar’s ouster. Security forces immediately opened fire on protesters in Lattakia leaving one dead and a 10-year old boy fighting for his life. The Twitterverse became abuzz by statements of bafflements and amazements from Assad sympathizers, lending credence to assertions by Syrian activists that the ranks will swell with new recruits and that the revolution will continue.
All eyes are now fixed on next Fridaywhen waves of protests are expected to hit the country. Judging from Assad’s speech, violence seems inevitable. But the protesters refused to be intimidated and seem intent on taking the struggle to its logical conclusion. The glove has been thrown, the die has been cast, this is about regime change, because regime change seems to be the only way out of the Lion’s Den.
Day 17: “Down with Assad the Dog” – It’s no April Fool’s
The Quiet before the Storm
A day of reckoning will unfold Friday, meanwhile, all was relatively calm in Syria. The day was a networking day par excellence, a Facebook and email day, the protesters tried to finalize their plans for tomorrow. Will the protests be bigger than ever? Will new cities and town join the fray? Will Aleppo catch the bug? Will there be blood as Syrian security forces crackdown in fulfillment of the warning issued by Assad in his speech? All these questions will be answered in the next few hours.
Day 18 – Friday of Martyrs: 1 April 2011Growing Pains: More violent crackdown as revolution expands
A storm of protests hit major Syrian cities, people demanding freedom and end to Assad regime.
As expected, protests against Assad rule in Syria grew bigger, although, one can hardly tell from the reporting on it whether by international or regional media. This is still a somehow under-reported revolution, or an obliquely revolution. Due to government controls, foreign correspondents in Syria are often out of the loop, while Arab and regional satellite stations seem plagued by all sorts of political and individual calculations.
But the YouTube videos below tell the whole story for those willing to see. This is an anti-Assad uprising, it’s growing by the day, with more cities and segments of the population joining and Assad’s thugs hitting back hard in hope to forestalling the inevitable. There is definitely a need for a tougher stand by the international community.
In Deraa; new massacres in Sanamein. Snipers caught on tape in Deraa City itself. In Homs; became a hotbed in the afternoon with Bedouin population joining the protesters and taking brut of casualties with 2 reported dead, a development likely to energize the larger Bedouin population in suburbs. In Baniyas; thousands of protesters take over the streets, establish a “permanent” sit-in, chant “Down With Bashar.” In Qamishly; thousands of protesters take over streets for few hours, but no clashes with authorities reported. But border with Turkey were closed. In Douma; thousands take to the streets, take down Assad banner, shout “People Want to Topple regime,” at which time they get shot at by thugs that eyewitnesses say received their Kalashnikovs and other weapons from local security people.
Lattakia, Der Ezzor, Dariyyah Suburb in Damascus, Amoudah (on border with Turkey), Idlib, Hama… all witnesses massive demonstrations today. Kurds and Bedouin tribes of central Syria (Homs) seem to have thrown their lot with the protesters.
More than a 100 clips of videos were received today, below is only a small sampling.
|Day 19: After the Storm!
Arrests and Intimidation as Deraa and Banyas move to their own beat.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.
In Homs security raided the neighborhoods of Al-Bayadeh, Al-Khaldiyyeh, Dier Baalbah and Hayy Al-Sabeel, places that witnessed bloody attacks by security forces on the previous night. They broke into houses and took men away and loaded them in busses. Inhabitants burnt tires in the streets and threw stones at the police, eventually forcing them to retreat, but not before they took away dozens of protesters. The inhabitants of these neighborhoods are linked to Bedouins tribes, and they are unlikely to back down now. Unrest was also reported in nearby villages and towns. Homs, or major segments of it, is set to follow the lead of the Deraa Governorate in its open defiance of the Assad regime.
In Deraa City; and before sniper attacks on April 1st. Chants: “We demanded reforms, they gave us the gun. There are no gangs in Horan nor treason nor conspiracies. We listened to the speeches, there were not on par with demands. Enough promises, assertions and stalling for time. Our demands and principles call for lifting of the state of emergency. Enough cruelty and barbarism by the security apparatuses…”
In a 400-word article in Al-Thawrah, Ali Nasrallah says: “If our people, thanks to our national consciousness, were able to reveal the truth that what happened during the past few days was more than just slogans raised here and there and that were exploited to create chaos and sedition projects, then the coming step must not be confined to thwarting and foiling these projects. Rather, we must kill these projects before they are born and learn from the experience what makes us all together achieve success in deterring the alternatives projects that will be proposed.
Meanwhile, inhabitants of Banyas City on the coast, a mixed city of Sunnis and Alawites, continue to hold their festival of liberation through the city’s main streets, with little interference from authorities, belying rumors of sectarianism.
Many of the videos below cover events that took place on April 1st. The videos from Banyas are from today, and leave no room for doubt that this is an anti-Assad movement that unites people from across the sectarian divide: Sunnis and Alawites.
DAY 21: Turmoil in the Lion’s Lair!
Several Alawite villages join the protest movement, while Douma and Homs Seethe, Deraa and Banyas maintain their unofficial independence.
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.
Indeed, despite arrests and intimidation, Douma witnessed massive funeral marches in support of the Friday’s martyrs, with inhabitants of nearby suburbs showing up to show their support. Tomorrow, Tuesday, which will mark the end of the three-day mourning period, could witness renewed clashes as people take to the streets to demand holding those responsible for the massacres accountable.
Meanwhile, Deraa got a new Governor, a retired Lieutenant General by the name of Muhammad Khalid Al-Hannous. Al-Hannous is originally from Hama, but spent most of his military service in Deraa. His familiarity with the city and its tribal structure, and his military background, the regime hopes will help him assert central control in a place that is currently under effective autonomous rule. But what the regime sees as assets, the people are likely to see as new offenses: military background! Not from Deraa! Now that’s a regime that’s in-tune with its people.
As for Lattakia, it seems that the Assad smuggling gangs, AKA “the Shabbiha,” have outworn their welcome in certain villages, especially those affiliated with the Kana’an family. Members from both clans are reported to have exchange gunfire near the village of Qneinees, resulting in a number of causalities. Nearby villages are said to have rushed to aid the Kanaan clan. But by end of the day, and aided by local security apparatuses, the Assad gang seems to have had the upper hand, many members of the Kan’an family are reported to be under arrest. No figure on casualties is available.
The Kanaa’ family feud with the Assad clan dates back to mid-2005 when their man Ghazi Kanaan, then Minister of Interior and a vocal critic of Bashar in army circles, committed suicide by shooting himself multiple times in the back of the head. The clan must have sensed that it was time for a payback.
Meanwhile, there are reports of major outreach efforts between members of the Murshidiyyah, an Alawite sect with its own separate religious institutions, and Lattakia Sunni notables, in an attempt to bring the tense situation in the city under control. It’s not clear so far if this activity will lead to containing the local protests or enlarging them.
The situation in Lattakia and the nearby Mounts is a very hard situation to monitor, but we will continue to sift through reported as they come looking for signs of things to come. But tomorrow will likely belong to Douma and its all too public protests.
Some of the chanting slogans in Douma were: “Syrian Media Lies” “Where Are You Sniper? Syrian People Cannot Be Trampled Upon” “People Want to Topple the Regime” “Today’s Your Wedding, O Martyr? “Where are the Gangs?” “O Maher Assad, Your head Will Be Lowered Forever” “We Seek Freedom Peacefully” “We Want To Speak Openly: We don’t To See Rami Makhlouf” “The One Who Kills His Owen People Is A Traitor”
Syria’s official news channel, Al-Akhbariyyah, aired few reports, none of the reports showed the actual size of the crowd or any of the banners they’re carrying, or acknowledged that protesters have been killed, as the official line accuses protesters of faking videos showing injured and dead. The people speaking to the camera make specific complaints about living conditions, price of animal feed and gasoline, bad roads, inability to get license to build new houses or extensions and corruption. Many express love and loyalty to Assad. Other videos on YouTube shows, however, people demanding freedom of all prisoners of conscience. By mixing lies with truths, an covering up the actual size and extant of the protests, Syrian authorities hope to trivialize the matter and lend credence to their own accusations that a conspiracy is involved and that foreign media is blowing the events out of proportions.