May 2, 2011

The Complexities of Syria's Violence

by Anna Haqq

The Syrian events do not belong in the same category as the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. . . .

As the conflict escalates, more voices have entered the web, some on the side of the government and some not. On Wednesday April 27, radio ShamFM broadcasted an interview with a woman from the southern city Dar'aa, where most of the turmoil has been taking place. She talked about how locals from the city are not able to enter or leave the city. The army has blocked Dar'aa. She then denounced the "armed terrorists" who have attacked the army, policemen and civilians, and accordingly, caused the turmoil. She yelled repeatedly, "We do not want freedom. President Assad gave us freedom we do not want it. Freedom is the cause of this turmoil." When asked what the people of Dar'aa want, she yelled out: "We want things to go back to 'normal', when policemen can interrogate predators. We want the old days when we could walk freely in our city at any time without fear of armed terrorists. If this is freedom, we do not want it."

The previous day, on April 26, S.N.N (Sham News Network) circulated a video of a young man from Banias, the coastal city that witnessed violent events in recent weeks. He addressed the international community in clear English stating, "we are demonstrating to claim our rights, our justice, our freedom, and they say we are salafi, we are al-Qaida, we are abu-Sayaf, and we are terrorists and we want to make an Islamic republic here. I say it is a big lie, it is a big lie. . . . In Syria, in Banias, in all of Syria, Christians and Muslims are brothers. In the same street you can see mosques and churches. Sunnis, Alawi, Kurds, Shia, Druze - we are all brothers, we are all friends we are all rebels. . . .

Cartoon images of an evil government versus a peaceful population do not help the Syrian people, and only provide fodder for those who believe that they must intervene to help along a pliant population. . . .


"Israel Strikes Alleged Nuclear Site in Syria: The Dair El Zor Hoax," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2007

Joe Conason, "Regime Change: 'Seven Countries in Five Years',", October 12, 2007

"The Lies Behind the West's War on Libya," The Wisdom Fund, April 14, 2011

"Is The Tide Turning Against Arab Freedom?," The Wisdom Fund, April 22, 2011

"AP Exclusive: Syria says it will cooperate on nuclear probe but US pushes for UN referral," Associated Press, May 29, 2011

Khalid Ali, "The face of the Syrian uprising,", June 1, 2011

Phil Sands, "Thousands march as Syria death toll rises,", June 5, 2011

[The International Atomic Energy Agency board is meeting amid pressure from the US and other nations to rebuke Syria over alleged illicit nuclear activity.--"IAEA nuclear watchdog meeting to focus on Syria," BBC News, June 6, 2011]

[Syria's revolt against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad is turning into an armed insurrection, with previously peaceful demonstrators taking up arms to fight their own army . . .

Even more serious for Assad's still-powerful supporters, there is growing evidence that individual Syrian soldiers are revolting against his forces.--Robert Fisk, "The people vs the president: Syria in turmoil as resistance turns to insurrection," Independent, June 8, 2011]

Russia Today, June 9, 2011

[There are several factors that complicate the crisis in Syria.
- Mr Assad enjoys strong support within many segments of Syrian society, mostly among minorities, the middle class and the business elite.
- There are fears of a civil war if President Assad should fall. Syria is made up of a precarious mix of confessions - 75% Sunni; 10% Christian, 3% Druze and 3% Shia (mostly Alawite). Even among those who want to see serious reforms, many would prefer to give President Assad time to implement them.
- Unlike in Egypt, there is no daylight between the army and the regime. The armed forces are overwhelmingly made up of Alawites, so they too are in a fight to maintain their power and privilege. While there have been reports of low-level defections, the military command appears solid.
- Syria is a major regional power and any chaos here will cause knock-on effects in countries such as Lebanon and Israel, where it can use proxy groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to cause trouble. It also has close ties with Shia power Iran - an arch foe of the US and Israel - which could potentially draw Western powers into a dangerous Middle Eastern conflict. --"Q&A: Syria protests," BBC News, June 10, 2011]

Khalid Ali and Justin Vela, "Syrians torn between terror and defiance as regime cracks down: Thousands flee as regime steps up crackdown on protests, with dozens of deaths reported," Independent, June 11, 2011

[The Syrian base is the only toehold Russia has in the Mediterranean region. The Black Sea Fleet counts on the Syrian base for sustaining any effective Mediterranean presence by the Russian navy. With the establishment of US military bases in Romania and the appearance of the US warship in the Black Sea region, the arc of encirclement is tightening. It is a cat-and-mouse game, where the US is gaining the upper hand.

Ostensibly, the regime headed by Bashar al-Assad is repressive since almost everyday reports are coming out that more bloodshed has taken place. But the Western reports are completely silent as to the assistance that the Syrian opposition is getting from outside. No one is interested in probing or questioning, for instance, the circumstances in which 120 Syrian security personnel could have been shot and killed in one "incident".--M K Bhadrakumar, "Syria on the boil, US warship in Black Sea,", June 14, 2011]

James M. Dorsey, "Syria, pawn in power play by world's major powers? Yes,", June 18, 2011

Doug Bandow, "U.S. Gears Up for War Number Six,", June 20, 2011

David Batty, "Syrians pour into Lebanon after Friday protest killings: Shot people taken to hospital across border after crackdown on demonstrations in Damascus, Homs and Aleppo," Guardian, June 25, 2011

David Batty, "Syrian president sacks Hama governor after 200,000 protest," Guardian, July 2, 2011

[Hama remains an international symbol of the Assad regime's history of violent repression, since it was there that the current ruler's father, Hafez al-Assad, put down a 1982 insurrection by killing at least 10,000 of the city's residents.--Howard LaFranchi, "Is Assad losing Syria? As concerns grow, US urges halt to 'intimidation',", July 5, 2011]

[More than 1,500 civilians have been killed across Syria since protests broke out in mid-March, according to human rights groups. Thousands more have been injured or arbitrarily arrested and tortured in what Amnesty International says may amount to crimes against humanity.--Nidaa Hassan, "After 41 years, Syria begins to imagine a future without an Assad in charge," Guardian, July 6, 2011]

Martin Chulov, "Syrian rebel city welcomes US ambassador with roses: Syrian government criticises Robert Ford for meeting 'saboteurs' in Hama and conspiring to undermine regime," Guardian, July 9, 2011

[Michael Posner, the assistant US secretary of state for human rights and labor, said that $50 million had been spent on training up to 5,000 activists, and one particular gathering that included activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon . . .

Reports have come out that armed militants have been attacking both protesters and Syrian security forces in an attempt to escalate violence and bring the crisis to "critical mass," resulting in either the toppling of the Syrian government, or an opening for foreign military intervention.--Tony Cartalucci, "'Perception of Syrian conflict defined by baseless activist statements',", July 9, 2011]

[One of the problems with unfolding the Syria paradox is that there is indeed a genuine, domestic demand for change. A huge majority of Syrians want reform. They feel the claustrophobia of the state's inert heavy-handedness and of the bureaucracy's haughty indifference toward their daily trials and tribulations. Syrians resent the pervasive corruption, and the arbitrary tentacles of the security authorities intruding into most areas of daily life. But is the widespread demand for reform itself the explanation for the violence in Syria, as many claim?

There is this mass demand for reform. But paradoxically - and contrary to the "awakening" narrative - most Syrians also believe that President Bashar al-Assad shares their conviction for reform.

. . . The US has a record of attempting to intervene in Syria that even predates the US Central Intelligence Agency's and British intelligence's 1953 coup in Iran against prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

. . . The US also began the liberal funding of Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005; and more recently the training of activists, including Syrian activists, on the means to avoid arrest and on secure communications techniques using unlicensed telephone networks and Internet software.

. . . Public opinion is polarized and embittered towards the Salafists and their allies. Leftist, secular opposition circles are distancing themselves from the Salafist violence - the inherent contradiction of the divergent aspirations of the "exiles" and the Salafists, from the Syrian majority consensus, is now starkly manifest. This, essentially, is the last side to the paradoxical Syrian "box".--Alastair Crooke, "Unfolding the Syrian paradox," Guardian, July 15, 2011]

[Al-Jazeera's admission only gives further credence to what has already been exposed: the Zionist entity and the House of Saud, allied with the US, Turkey and Jordan, have launched a full-scale destabilization operation against Bashar al-Assad and his government.--Jonathan Azaziah, "Syria: Zionist Mobilization Kicks Into High Gear,", July 16, 2011]

[Syrian protesters are very much as armed as they are supported, funded, and trained by the United States government.--Tony Cartalucci, "The Truth Behind Syria's Unrest: Mostly unarmed means armed,", August 2, 2011]

[The council's action took the form of a "presidential statement," which is a step below a resolution. A resolution usually contains specific actions - like sanctions or authorization for outside intervention.--Howard LaFranchi, "UN Security Council rebuke of Syria hailed as potential 'turning point',", August 3, 2011]

[The ongoing protest movement is intended to serve as a pretext and a justification to intervene militarily against Syria. The existence of an armed insurrection is denied. The Western media in chorus have described recent events in Syria as a "peaceful protest movement" directed against the government of Bashar Al Assad, when the evidence confirms the existence of an armed insurgency integrated by Islamic paramilitary groups.--Michel Chossudovsky, "A 'Humanitarian War' on Syria? Military Escalation. Towards a Broader Middle East-Central Asian War?," Global Research, August 9, 2011]

Michel Chossudovsky, "NATO and Turkey Support Armed Rebels in Syria. Campaign to Recruit Muslim 'Freedom Fighters'," Global Research, August 15, 2011

Michel Chossudovsky, "The Pentagon's 'Salvador Option': The Deployment of Death Squads in Iraq and Syria," Global Research, August 16, 2011

[Since 2004, the Zionist entity's Mossad and its American partners in the Zionist-founded, Zionist-run National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have funded, armed and trained various opposition factions in Syria, spawning an army of 'democracy-seeking activists' ready to mobilize on command.--Jonathan Azaziah, "Syria Under Fire: Zionist Destabilization Hits Critical Mass,", August 18, 2011]

David Usborne and Oliver Wright, "Assad must go: the world unites against Syria's tyrant," Independent, August 19, 2011

Vladimir Isachenkov, "Russia stands by Assad despite further bloodshed in Syria," Independent, August 20, 2011

["All the international media are liars," he said. "Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN - they are all lying. There is no trouble here in Damascus."--Khalid Ali, "Life after Assad looks ominous for Syria's Christian minority," Independent, September 5, 2011]

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