Monday, December 19, 2011


You don’t need to read tea leaves in order to figure out the writing on the wall or make sense of what’s going in Syria. An open mind would suffice.

Sunday 18, 2011

Today’s death toll: 24. The Breakdown: 12 in Homs, 7 in Idlib, 2 in Deir Ezzor, 2 in Damascus city and 1 in Deraa. 

Reports from different sources inside Syria claim that 21 mid-level officers are scheduled for execution tomorrow for defecting and/or attempting to defect. 

Syrian-American Blogger Razan Ghazzawi has been freed.


"What difference can the SNC make if it gets international recognition and loses its legitimacy among the protesters? And what difference can the FSA make, if it fails to get all the emerging paramilitary groups to accept the authority of its Military Council and its leader?" Ammar Abdulhamid, a U.S.-based Syrian dissident who has been critical of the SNC said recently. Abdulhamid has criticized the SNC's "lack of transparency" and claimed that several independent Syrians who wanted to attend the conference in Tunisia "as monitors" were not allowed in. "So long as SNC leaders remain more preoccupied with winning international recognition than they are with internal cohesion or outreach to their own people, they are destined to become as irrelevant and cut-off from realities as Assad is today," he said.

A reminder of what’s at stake in the Syrian Revolution (Hama City)
A girl (you’ll have to take our word for it)

Message to the SNC

As members of the Syrian National Council conclude their meeting in Tunis, the protesters in Deir Baalbah Neighborhood in Homs give them an ultimatum: their final statement better reflect the demands of the revolution, or they will start carrying banners saying “the SNC does not represent me” The speaker in the clip reminds opposition members that for 40 years they have not been able to raise their voice, but now they are speaking freely, thanks to the bravery of the children of Deraa, whose anti-regime graffiti sparked the revolution.

But let me take this opportunity to send my own message to SNC leaders:

  •         Because the international community is not willing to intervene at this stage,
  •         Because the situation on the ground is getting more and more tragic by the day, 
  •      Because the criminals involved for the current situation, as the recent Human Right Watch report shows, is a virtual “who’s who among Assad’s security and military officers, and…
  •         Because military, security and political defector can be counted on the fingers of one hand,
It’s about time we realized that ours is a longer term struggle and we started planning and strategizing accordingly. Any group that wants to truly represent and lead the revolution down the road should arrange its priorities in the right manner:

Getting international recognition at this stage is not as important as consolidating our base of support and legitimacy on the ground. For this, our discourse and our actions need to be carefully modulated so as to garner popular support and respect. We all also need to find ways to support protest communities and the local resistance, especially the armed resistance. Some in the international community may not like it, but armed resistance has become a fact on the ground, even if it is still in its infancy. No political group aspiring to lead the revolution and the transitional period beyond can afford to let armed resistance take place outside its purview and its controls. A political group that has no real control over armed resistance cannot hold the country together in that most critical period of transition that lies ahead. As such, we are not just talking about creating the façade of control, but the reality of it. SNC leaders have excelled in creating façades but not realities. That’s good for them, but it is not good for the country.

There are a lot of people in the SNC and outside of it who don’t believe in armed resistance, be that as it may, it’s not their job to stifle or suffocate it, because this will undermine the morals of those protest communities who have now thrown their full support behind it. The revolution itself will be hurt by that. The only thing that can be done at this stage is to support the different movements on the ground and adopt the demands of the revolutionaries as they are, regardless of what the international community has to say. Only when we have established enough credibility and legitimacy among the ranks of the revolutionaries, can we begin to push back on certain issues and advocate stances that may not be popular, but which are, nonetheless, right, for the country and the revolution.

Right now, each time we contradict the revolutionaries, we end up losing credibility. Why? Because we never had much of it to begin with, after all, we didn’t make the revolution, the protesters have not taken to the streets because of things we said or did. The protesters are aware of this fact, and are beginning to remind us of it, as we can tell from the clip above. Moreover, we have helped undermine our own credibility over the last months on account of our well-publicized internecine bickering, which often reflected personal egos and ambitions than any principled stands.

So, our priority at this stage should be to get internal recognition, not international one. When that is truly “in the bag,” international recognition will follow. We should also remember that the real challenge is not about achieving some sort of haphazard unity, but about projecting the needed leadership, vision and representation, it’s about the quality of work, and of who we are.

Religious Split

A group of Damascene women say they are quitting the famous and unofficial religious network known as the Qoubayssi Movement. The reason: the negative view espoused by the movement’s founder, Munirah Al-Qoubayssi vis-à-vis the revolution, especially female revolutionaries This movement, which has many followers among members of the commercial elite in Damascus and Aleppo, and across the middle classes, has been playing a critical role in in keeping the situation in Aleppo City and Central Damascus in check. Obviously, this policy is beginning to backfire.

Students Still In

Students in the University of Damascus continue to express their support for the revolution. This clip shows students holding a silent sit-in in the College of Electrical Engineering

Sectarian Hatred: the Homsy Debacle

Opposition leader, Mamoun Al-Homsi (despite the name he is actually from Damascus) made a recorded statement in which he threatened all Alawites in Syria with getting “wiped out” from the face of earth if they persisted in supporting Assad and killing Sunnis  He was immediately denounced by all Syrian of note, and will certainly continue to be condemned over the next few days. Still, this is an ominous development. For while many Syrians would like to dismiss Mamoun as a political douche, this douche is a former MP who has over the years met with many world leaders, including former President George W. Bush (twice) and the late Vaclav Havel. More importantly, his sentiments are not exactly unique, but echoes and reinforces popular sentiments across the country.

For this reason, the opposition needs to do more than simply condemn such statements. Now more than ever, we need to produce a Draft National Covenant on basic rights of the Syrian citizen, and we need to propose different models for the state to show that we can come out with practical suggestions on how the rights of all different groups, regardless of their demographic size, will be protected in the new Syria we are trying to build. None of these things may have an immediate impact on the current battle taking place in Syrian streets, and Syrian souls, but down the road, they will make all the difference. We keep saying that Syria is not Libya or Iraq, but so far, our methods and our discourse are not that different from those that have been adopted by our colleagues in the Libyan and Iraq opposition.

Incident in Midan

The angry statement by Homsy above came in response to developments in Midan District in Damascus, where a protest was subject to intense crackdown leaving two dead: a young woman and a 9-year old baby girl . The situation in the neighborhood is very tense. Funerals are scheduled for tomorrow, although there are reports that one of the bodies was snatched from the local hospital by loyalists. 

Sweep Operations Continue


Scenes of devastation in Bab Al-Sibaa Neighborhood in Homs City  Karm Al-Zeitun Targeting people in cars is a favorite pastime for snipers, as this human brain in the front seat can attest And this wounded man from Bayadah Neighborhood People stuck at the crossroads due to sniper action ,

And people keep holding funerals: Qoussour Wa’er

Still, and with the involvement of actress Fadwa Sulaiman, who is an Alawite, protest leaders keep sending messages of inclusion stressing that their fight is against the Assad Gang, not the Alawite community

Homs Province

In the historic city of Tadmor/Palmyra in the larger Homs Province, loyalists tried to reassert central control today  And martyrs fell

A similar development takes place in Qseir  And the town offers more martyrs , and holds more funerals with people shouting “death is better than humiliation”

In Houleh, the evacuation of residents from homes that have been shelled Homes on fire , Martyrs The pounding continues

Talbisseh is also dealing with an renewed invasion by loyalists ,

Ghanto holds a funeral for this man


Loyalists storm the town of Khan Shaikhoon As the inhabitants of nearby Haass hold a funeral The sounds of gunfire is mixed with the sounds of traffic in Ma’arrat Al-Nouman

Kafrenbel offers more martyrs , and hold new funerals

A video from the operations in Ibleen on December 17

Loyalists break into shops in Jisr Ashoughour in order to disrupt the strike

A funeral in Saraqib More martyrs fall in Jabal Al-Zawiyeh Another in Idlib City


Loyalists move into the town of Kafranboudeh


Loyalist try to force the inhabitants of Sanamein into breaking their strike , And things get nasty quick , As nearby Karak holds a funeral Meanwhile, tanks still occupy the streets of Hraak And locals hold a new funeral ,

Defectors form new fighting units in Deraa: Al-Moutassim The Men of God

Damascus Suburbs

Tanks and armored vehicles now are being deployed ore frequently in the suburbs of Damascus, especially in the region of Eastern Ghoutah: Saqba  , Douma Arbeen In Harasta, nighttime protesters come under fire (mid-clip) but remain defiant Meanwhile, the security headquarters in Qaboun came under attack earlier today, according to different reports.

Deir Ezzor

In Deir Ezzor City, crackdown left several dead Loyalists carry out a number of drive-by shootings

The town of Jbeileh comes under fire at night


HOMS PROVINCE: Rastan (Izzeddine) Teer Ma’allah Talbisseh Houleh

DAMASCUS CITY: Qadam Bab Sreejeh

HAMA: Hama City (Hamidiyeh)



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