Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Syria: Descent into Mayhem!

Assad feigns innocence, Clinton meets Ghalioun & SNC leaders, Shell and Total suspend Syria operations, clashes take place along Turkish, Lebanese and even Jordanian borders with greater frequency, defections increase, so do the killings, the arrests, and the levels of impunity and defiance, as Syria descends slowly into Mayhem.

Tuesday 6, 2011


The Banality of Evil  

The death toll in Homs is skyrocketing with 50 people killed on Monday December 5 alone, including 34 who were kidnapped and killed execution-style by pro-Assad militias. The average daily death toll in Homs has hovered around 20 for weeks now, but these spikes are becoming more frequent: on Sunday 40 were reported killed, and on Tuesday, the death toll in the city was put at 30. Killings are taking place outside Homs as well. Indeed, every day is now a lesson in the banality of evil, but the Assads and their supporters seem incapable of learning, just as the international community seems incapable of forming a coherent response, and the Syrian opposition a workable platform.

Meanwhile, Syria’s dictator offers a new glimpse deep into his soul… the stench of hypocrisy overwhelms the senses.

In a rare interview, Assad spoke Monday to ABC News veteran journalist Barbara Walters in a bid to defend himself amid growing global condemnation of the nine-month-old crackdown which the UN says has killed 4,000 people.

ABC News plans to air the interview on Wednesday but a reporter for the network, seeking US reaction at a State Department briefing, quoted Assad as saying: "I'm president. I don't own the country, so they're not my forces."

"There's a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference," the reporter quoted Assad as saying.

Reacting to the excerpt, State Department spokesman Mark Toner criticized Assad and said he has had multiple opportunities to end the violence.

"I find it ludicrous that he is attempting to hide behind some sort of shell game (and) claim that he doesn't exercise authority in his own country," Toner told the briefing.

"There's just no indication that he's doing anything other than cracking down in the most brutal fashion on a peaceful opposition movement," Toner said.

But the violence is not taking place in Homs alone, Idlib and Hama to the North, and the province of Deraa/Hauran to the South continue to be the scene of increasing daily clashes and crackdowns, and killings are a daily phenomenon there as well.

What Syrians Want

After dedicating one Friday for calling for the establishment of a no-fly zone, Syrian protesters held another calling for the establishment of safe havens along Syria’s borders. The message was not only addressed to the international community, but also to the leaders of the Syrian National Council, who continue to dither when it comes to calling for international intervention.

In this clip from Deir Baalbah Neighborhood in Homs City (Dec 2), the speaker addresses the crowds and tells them that there are leaders in the SNC who still oppose international intervention, including the establishment of a safe haven, but says that anyone in the SNC starting with Burhane Ghalioun who opposes this demand as well as the demands for a no-fly zone and support to the Free Syrian Army, will no longer represent the Revolution. Protesters then begin to chant “the people want a safe haven”

In this clip, protesters in Idlib City address SNC President Burhane Ghalioun directly saying “Burhane Ghalioun, can’t you hear, the people want a no-fly zone” (December 4) In Bab Al-Sibaa Neighborhood in Homs City protesters had had the honor to shout this slogan first on December 2

In this clip from the neighborhood of Karm Al-Zeitun in Homs City, taken on December 5, the activist shows the remains car blown up by a tank leaving 5 people dead, and rails against the Arab League for giving continuous extensions to the Assads, and against SNC President Burhane Ghalioun for opposing international intervention

In addition to calling for international intervention, protesters have not forgotten the home front as well, and continue to cease the opportunity to assert their message of inclusion even as pro-Assad militias continue to incite sectarianism. For this reason, protesters dedicated Sunday December 4 to showing their solidarity with Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Jesuit monk who has lived in Syria for over 30 years focusing on interfaith dialog, and who recently called for real reforms in the country saying "The first step towards saving this country is real freedom of expression, press and opinion." Assad officials, naturally, disapproved of this line and have decided to expel Father Paolo, as he himself told Vatican Radio. The decision will become final once the Syriac Catholic Bishop of Homs approves it.

On the long haul, Sami Moubayed demonstrates mathematically why Syria can never be ruled by Islamists:

In Syria, 10 per cent of the population is Christian, and they would never vote for the Brotherhood. Neither would the 15 per cent Alawite and Shiite communities, or the 3 per cent Druze, or 2 per cent "others" (Circassians, Jews, Ismailis). Then come 15 per cent Syrian Kurds and 10 per cent tribes and Bedouins, who although Sunni Muslims, would also never support an Islamic party. That adds up to 55 per cent, topped with no less than 25 per cent of Syria's 75 per cent Sunni majority, who are seculars or ordinary Syrians simply un-attracted to political Islam. That sums up to a majority of voters in any parliamentary elections, meaning that the Muslim Brotherhood or its sister groups would not take more than 20-25 per cent of any incoming Chamber. Meaning, in true internationally-monitored parliamentary elections, Islamic-driven parties like the Brotherhood would be unable to rule on their own with no coalition parties, as the case with the Al Nahda Party in Tunisia.

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