Syria Update Thread.
Posted 11 June 2011 - 04:58 PM (#1)
There was a good analysis of the Syrian situation on this mornings 'weekend breakfast' show on Radio 5 live even though it was by a member of the Henry Jackson Society.
Listen from 1:10:40. Its about 7 minutes long.
Posted 11 June 2011 - 11:08 PM (#2)
PM Erdogan of Turkey, who was a friend of Assad is becoming more critical of the Syrian regime. He has said that he talked to Assad several days ago and that Assad was under estimating the situation. He wasnt taking it seriously. PM Erdogan said that Assad's brother (Commander of Syrian Army 4th Division) was bent on pursuing brutality.
Also shame on Press TV for accepting the Syrian regimes line. I didnt mind Press TV before. It gave George Galloway, Ken Livingston etc a platform. It tends to go on and on about some topics (Lebanon) long after other media have moved on and cover ore important breaking stories. It is obviously Iranian government view of the world. My problem with Press tv started a couple of months back when the Syria story shot up to the top headline on evry media channel due to some escalation in Syria. I checked out Press tv to see how the Iranian funded channel would cover Syria (an Iranian ally). What did I find? No mention of of Syria on the front page of Press tv website (about maybe 8 stories on there). I clicked on 'more news' and still nothing. Since then I hate Press TV.
I went back to their site this week and found a Syria story with Press TV presenting the Syrian government line with mention of 'armed gangs', 'shadowy opposition' etc.
I am following the Syria story very keenly and am very worked up about what is happening to innocent people. The lies of the regime make your blood boil. InshaAllah Assad will hang from a lampost. These bastard thugs are gonna get their comeuppance. What they did to that boy.....
Like the journalists have said: The more they try to put out the flame the stronger it burns.
Syed Nasrallah Hezbollah chief. I was pleased with Hezbollah against Israel due to 'my enemies enemy'...
He had remained silent about the Syrian uprising and he would been wise to have maintained the silence. A couple of weeks ago I saw his interview on Press TV when he broke his long silence and said that it is clear the people of Syria support Assad. I know he is dependant on Syria for aid and backing. This was abig mistake. The Syrian people will not forget InshaAllah. InshaAllah they have long memories.
Here is a Al Jazeera piece from 5th June on this issue.
The Hezbollah-Assad connection
Shia leader Hassan Nasrallah's recent outspoken support of Assad is rooted in Syrian material and political support.
Posted 12 June 2011 - 06:41 AM (#3)
Radio 5 live.
Another interesting account from a journalist who has returned from Syria (name not disclosed for his safety as he may travel to Syria again). This journalist fills in the gaps on what is going on inside Syria, what people are thinking, how much people know, and more. A fascinating account. A must listen. Paints an Orwellian picture.
Listen from 21min25sec.
Talking about Orwellian.. check out the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
It is a government site. What a joke.
Posted 12 June 2011 - 06:48 PM (#4)
Robert Fisk: The people vs the president
Syria in turmoil as resistance turns to insurrection
Wednesday, 8 June 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 and the "shabiha" – meaning "the ghosts", in English – of Alawi militiamen who have been killing and torturing those resisting the regime's rule.
Even more serious for Assad's still-powerful supporters, there is growing evidence that individual Syrian soldiers are revolting against his forces. The whole edifice of Assad's Alawi dictatorship is now in the gravest of danger.
In 1980, Assad's father, Hafez, faced an armed uprising in the central city of Hama, which was put down by the Special Forces of Hafez's brother Rifaat – who is currently living, for the benefit of war crimes investigators, in central London – at a cost of up to 20,000 lives. But the armed revolt today is now spreading across all of Syria, a far-mightier crisis and one infinitely more difficult to suppress. No wonder Syrian state television has been showing the funerals of up to 120 members of the security services from just one location, the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour.
The first evidence of civilians turning to weapons to defend their families came from Deraa, the city where the bloody story of the Syrian uprising first began after intelligence officers arrested and tortured to death a 13-year-old boy. Syrians arriving in Beirut told me the male citizens of Deraa had grown tired of following the example of peaceful Tunisian and Egyptian protesters – an understandable emotion since people in those countries suffered nothing like the brutal suppression meted out by Assad's soldiers and militiamen – and were now sometimes "shooting back" for the sake of "dignity" and to protect their wives and children.
Bashar and his cynical brother Maher – the present-day equivalent of the outrageous Rifaat – may now be gambling on the old dictator's saw that their regime must be defended against armed Islamists supported by al-Qa'ida, a lie which was perpetrated by Muammar Gaddafi and the now-exiled leaders Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen and Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the still-on-the-throne al-Khalifas of Bahrain.
The few al-Qa'ida cells in the Arab world may wish this to be true, but the Arab revolt is about the one phenomenon in the Middle East uncontaminated by "Islamism". Only the Israelis and the Americans may be tempted to believe otherwise.
Al Jazeera television yesterday aired extraordinary footage of a junior Syrian officer calling upon his comrades to refuse to continue massacring civilians in Syria. Identified as Lt Abdul-Razak Tlas, from the town of Rastan, he said he had joined the army "to fight the Israeli enemy", but found himself witnessing a massacre of his own people in the town of Sanamein. "After what we've seen from crimes in Deraa and all over Syria, I am unable to continue with the Syrian Arab army," he announced. "I urge the army, and I say: 'Is the army here to steal and protect the Assad family?' I call upon all honourable officers to tell their soldiers about the real picture, use your conscience... if you are not honourable, stay with Assad."
Differentiating rumour from fact in Syria is getting easier by the week. More Syrians are reaching the safety of Lebanon and Turkey to tell their individual stories of torture and cruelty in security police barracks and in plain-clothes police cells. Some are still using the telephone from Syria itself – one to describe explosions in Jisr al-Shughour and of bodies being tossed into the river from which the town takes its name.
For well over a month, I have been watching Syrian television's nightly news and at least half the broadcasts have included funerals of dead soldiers. Now Syria itself declares that 120 have been killed in one incident, an incredible loss for an army that was supposed to instill horror into the minds of the country's protesters. But then the supposedly invincible Syrian army often showed itself woefully unable to suppress Lebanese militias during the country's 1975-90 civil war. An entire battalion of Syrian Special Forces troops was driven out of east Beirut, for example, by a ragtag group of Christian militias who would have been crushed by any serious professional army.
If you wish to destroy unarmed civilians, you shoot them down in the street and then shoot down the funeral mourners and then shoot down the mourners of the dead mourners – which is exactly what Assad's gunmen have been doing – but when the resistors shoot back, the Syrian army has shown a quite different response: torture for their prisoners and fear in the face of the enemy.
But if the armed insurrection takes hold, then it is also the 11 per cent Alawi community – once the frontier force of the French mandate against the Sunnis and now the prop of Assad against the poorer Sunnis – which is at threat. So appalled is the Assad regime at its enemies that it has been encouraging Palestinians to try to cross the frontier wire on Israeli-occupied Golan. The Israelis say this is to divert world attention from the massacres in Syria – and they are absolutely right.
The Damascus government's Tishrin newspaper has been suggesting that 600,000 Palestinians may soon try to "go home" to the lands of Palestine from which the Israelis drove them in 1948, a nightmare the Israelis would prefer not to think about – but not as great a nightmare as that now facing the people and their oppressors in Syria itself.
Posted 14 June 2011 - 08:01 PM (#5)
PM Erdogan of Turkey has commented on Syria accusing Bashar Assad of not taking the situation seriously and accusing Maher Assad (Presidents brother and head of the feared fourth army)of being bent on pursuing brutality.
The PM said that Syrian intelligence was heading for a massacre. These words should be taken very seriously as Turkey is sure to have intelligence on the ground in Syria and will know the reality of events there. They will know of 'Black operations' (false flag) by Syrian intelligence. They will have a whiff of what the Syrian regime and its intelligence services are cooking up.
PM Erdogan having talked to Bashar Assad will have a clue to the role of Bashar and Maher Assad in current crisis.
Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:25 PM (#7)
The Soldier Who Gave Up on Assad to Protect Syria's People
"I defected from the Syrian Arab army and took responsibility for protecting civilians in Jisr al-Shoughour," he says. "I was late in taking this decision." His lower lip quivers. He struggles to maintain his composure. After a long pause and several deep breaths, the man with the thinning salt-and-pepper hair resumes: "I feel like I am responsible for the deaths of every single martyr in Syria."
Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:46 AM (#8)
Here is an article from February interviewing Bashar Al Assad during the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. The link to the article has already been on the 'Egyptian running commentary' thread from 3-4 months ago. However it is a fascinating read due to how events unfolded in the following months.
Bashar al-Assad’s views on the Egyptian and Tunisian Protests
Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:46 PM (#9)
Syria - Pro-government demonstration in Damascus Jun 15, 2011 'Massive over 2 kilometre long Syrian flag'
I read on the 'Orwellian' SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency) website last week that Syrians (pro-regime) creating a massive 2.3 Km long flag of Syria to parade it around the country and finally lay it on display on the Golan Heights.
It seems the flag was completed and displayed in a pro-government rally in Damascus on 15th of June.
Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:38 PM (#11)
From todays Al Jazeera Live Syria blog:
President Bashar al-Assad is losing control to his hardline relatives, his forces are overstretched, his government is running out of money and the revolt against his rule is gathering support and funding.
Given all this, analysts and Syrian-based diplomats say the international community is starting to plan for a Syria without the Assads.
The risks of a slide into sectarian war are significant, most Syria-watchers nonetheless say, believing Assad will fight to the end, and start to regionalise the conflict by inciting violence in Lebanon, Turkey and across the borders with Israel.
"Despite everything they have done over the past few weeks - killing, torture, mass arrests and raids - the protests are continuing," said one Western diplomat. "This regime will fight to the death, but the only strategy they have is to kill people, and this is accelerating the crisis."
In its attempt to stamp out protests across the country of 23 million, the government has withdrawn most security forces from the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, diplomats say.
Yet each time the authorities go in hard to deal with one centre of rebellion, other towns rise up.
[The above was an analysis by reuters. For the full article : http://www.reuters.c...E75F3H120110616
Interesting. I remember reading on the Orwellian government run SANA (Syrian Arab News Agencey) website how people were doing their national duty to save the Syrian pound by depositing in bank accounts. It was probably a false story to encourage people to deposit money because the regime is running out of money.
Btw. Also from the Syria blog:
Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie, who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency, will meet displaced Syrians on a tour of refugee camps in southern Turkey on Friday, officials say.
"Ms Jolie will visit Hatay province on Friday after travelling from Istanbul," Selcuk Unal, a spokesman for Turkey's foreign ministry, told AFP.
Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:53 PM (#12)
Having read the full reuters analysis (partly posted above) I must share it in full. It is brilliant. Simply the most detailed analysis I have read so far. Music to the ears.
Analysis: Syria's Assad loses his grip to hardliners
By Samia Nakhoul
LONDON | Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:55am EDT
(Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad is losing control to his hardline relatives, his forces are overstretched, his government is running out of money and the revolt against his rule is gathering support and funding.
Given all this, analysts and Syrian-based diplomats say the international community is starting to plan for a Syria without the Assads.
The risks of a slide into sectarian war are significant, most Syria-watchers nonetheless say, believing Assad will fight to the end, and start to regionalize the conflict by inciting violence in Lebanon, Turkey and across the borders with Israel.
"Despite everything they have done over the past few weeks -- killing, torture, mass arrests and raids -- the protests are continuing," said one Western diplomat. "This regime will fight to the death, but the only strategy they have is to kill people, and this is accelerating the crisis."
In its attempt to stamp out protests across the country of 23 million, the government has withdrawn most security forces from the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, diplomats say.
Yet each time the authorities go in hard to deal with one center of rebellion, other towns rise up.
Reliant on two elite units commanded by his brother Maher -- the 4th Armored Division and the Republican Guard -- as well as secret police and militia from his minority Alawite sect, President Assad is plainly overstretched.
"Our assessment is that the regime will fall," predicted the Damascus-based diplomat. "They have three to six months of actual military capabilities to sustain this, but they cannot keep a prolonged operation going indefinitely."
Najib al-Ghadban, a Syrian academic and activist, said in London there was a broad consensus on overthrowing the Assad family after 40 years in power.
"We believe strongly that the regime has lost its legitimacy. It has no vision on how to get the country out of the crisis. The situation is deteriorating," Ghadban said. "We are certain this will reach a positive end like Tunisia and Egypt," he added.
So far more than 1,100 people have been killed, up to 10,000 detained and thousands have fled since the crackdown began, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The international community, diplomats said, see a post-Assad era ideally facilitated by a military coup and several governments are encouraging Syrian generals to mutiny.
"We are isolating him and his family. We're addressing military leaders and cabinet members to rise up. We're encouraging the generals to rise up," the diplomat said.
"The key variable is the continuation of the momentum (of the revolt). We really believe there is no point of return."
He and other analysts also believe that Syria's economic paralysis, amid insistent reports the government is running out of money and having to call on its inner circle for emergency funding, will fatally weaken the Assads.
One diplomat said Assad's cousin, the business tycoon Rami Makhlouf who is a hate figure for protesters, has recently deposited $1 billion at the central bank to stabilize the Syrian pound.
"When they are no longer capable of paying the salaries of bureaucrats, the army, the police and their Alawite militia this crisis will balloon and bring about the collapse of the regime," the diplomat said. "This is a train wreck waiting to happen."
Signs of stretched resources and fraying loyalties are already apparent.
As protests started to spread, the authorities pulled out contingents of security and elite forces from the capital, which are now firefighting from Deraa in the south to Jisr al-Sughour in the north, the scene of heavy reprisals after the government this month claimed to have lost 120 dead to "armed gangs."
But even so residents say there are demonstrations every weekend in Damascus and surrounding suburbs.
The bloodshed in Jisr al Shugour was the result of splits in army ranks, diplomats say, an ominous sign for the Assads.
"Around 50 soldiers and mid ranking officers defected and were supported by locals and the authorities sent a force to counter them and 120 were killed," said another Syria-based diplomat, dismissing government accounts this was the work of Salafi fundamentalists as propaganda.
He and others point to the growing sophistication of the rebellion, which draws support from across society.
"After three months this is not a poor man's uprising. There is significant financing from the Syrian business community and upper class. They give money for satellite phones, cameras, food, water and medical supplies," the resident diplomat said.
"This is a broad-based movement that includes not only Syrian youth, but imams from mosques, businessmen, even former Baath party members."
Analysts are puzzled by Assad's failure to address the nation in a speech since the revolt started in mid-March. They point out that conciliatory statements by Assad promising that protesters will not be fired on and the killings that followed show that he is not in control.
"The big unanswered question concerns the president," said Patrick Seale, biographer of Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad.
"The question is: Is he (Bashar) complicit with the killing or has he been pushed aside? The people running the show are the hardliners, the thugs."
Seale added: "Assad is not in charge. He is showing no leadership. He is depasse. They have really taken over."
STATE OF FEAR
Residents of Syria describe a state of fear and panic among the Alawite community, saying there had been revenge attacks against Alawite army officers and security men. They said Alawite officers in Sunni areas have pulled their children out of school and sent their families to Alawite villages or abroad
Syrian activist Ausama Monajed said the international community, which has put 13 Syrian officials on its sanctions list, should add army officers involved in killing protesters as well as Syrian firms linked to the Assad family.
Syrian oil sales, worth $7-8 million a day and which Monajed says go directly to fund the military, should be boycotted. Arab states must build a consensus against Assad by lobbying China and Russia for a Security Council resolution, he said.
All scenarios that anticipate the downfall of Assad, however, depend on the Sunni-dominated army splitting, while Western military intervention such as in Libya is unlikely in Syria because of the regional risks.
Analysts say the risks are high that Syria, an ally of Iran and Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah guerrillas and with a sectarian and ethnic mix of Sunni, Kurdish, Alawite and Christians, could slip into war.
Syria, they add, can make trouble in the region by trying to incite another war between Hezbollah and Israel. Recent demonstrations on the Israeli-Syrian frontier, which had been quiet for 38 years, were encouraged by Syrian authorities in an attempt to broaden the conflict.
"The Syrians have their fingers in many pies. They have many levers to put pressure on their neighbors and create problems between Hezbollah and Israel, between Sunni and Shi'ites in Lebanon and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and AKP (Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's party) in Turkey," the diplomat said.
(Editing by Giles Elgood)
Syria Live blog is saying about Rami Makhlouf (Bashars wealthy cousin):
Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, is quitting business and moving to charity work, state television said, a move that would meet a demand of protesters seeking an end to Assad's rule.
Makhlouf, a hate figure among protesters, owns Syria's largest mobile phone company, Syriatel, and several large construction and oil firms. He has expanded his businesses during Assad's rule and has been widely cited by protesters in their calls for an end to public corruption.
"As for his businesses, they will be directed so that they ... create jobs and support the national economy. He will not enter into any new project that [brings] him personal gain," the television said of Makhlouf.
The European Union listed Makhlouf and 12 Syrian officials on its sanctions list which includes asset freezes and travel bans.
Posted 18 June 2011 - 10:49 AM (#13)
The EU (European Union) is planning to introduce more sanctions this time targetting specific firms and businesses such as banks, companies associated with the regime. This is a good move. The EU already sanctioned a dozen members of the regime including Bashar Al Assad. Some suspect Rami Makhlouf (Bashars wealthy cousin) has made the move to quit business in order to avoid the sanctions imposed against him.
The protests are wide spread in Syria but havent taken hold in Damascus (some places only) and in Aleppo. Aleppo is the heartland of the Syrian economy and industry. It is where Sunni and Christian wealthy merchant families are loyal to the regime. Aleppo, the biggest city in Syria, hasnt seen protests apart from at Universities. These protests have been broken up by regime thugs, supporters of wealthy Sunni families and pro regime students.
The loyalty of the Sunnis of Aleppo will be tested if the economy continues to be weakened and if the businesses of these pro regime families are targetted in sanctions.
An analyst described the situation. He said there are those who are with the regime no matter what and there are those who are against the regime no matter what and feel the genie is out of the bottle and nothing less than the fall of the regime will do. He went on to say that there are those (Sunnis, christians) who have benefitted from the regime and dont want to rock the boat. On being promised some reforms they will say 'look everythings gonna be ok' and make excuses to avoid supporting the protests. These are the people who will have to change their loyalty for the protests to reach a critical mass.
Other reports mention how some Sunni businesses are funding the protests.
Posted 18 June 2011 - 11:36 AM (#14)
Here is a video of a Pro Democracy rally in Hama on Friday. The protestors carried a huge Syrian flag in response to the 2.3 Km (representing the 23 million Syrians) long flag carried by pro regime demonstrators in Damascus a few days earlier (see video 5 posts above).
Hama protesters carry huge flag with Revolutionary slogans on it. Yesterday the Dictator unfurled a giant flag that he had his slaves hold along the street in Meza, (Meza is a fancy neighborhood where a lot of mukharabat and regime cronies got subsidized apartments & condos in the past) . Today the real people of Syria brought out a giant flag as well, and our flag is bedecked with Slogans that say we need to "topple the regime" "death before humiliation" "no to racism" "The people do not want the Army in our City" (because the lying dictator keeps pretending that the people are inviting him to send his armies into cities to destroy them)
This is a big rally and march and can only be seen on the internet as the dictator has banned all foreign media.
The secret police and army are arresting, torturing and killing scores of people throughout Syria today with deaths in every major city and town. In Jisr al Shughur the regime has turned a Sugar factory into a torture center and is pouring Acid on the bodies of protestersand killing them at the factory.
This is the "reforms" that Bashar Assad is always pretending he is about to implement. Bashar has been lying to the world for the past 11 years that he is going to bring "reforms" to Syria, but he is in fact a smooth talking British educated sociopathic sadistic serial killer who has made a fool out of the American Liberals who have come to visit him one after the other.
Americans politicians who have been "punked" by Assad include Nancy Pelosi, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton, and they have all come back starry-eyed from Syria saying that Assad is a reformer who "someday" will institute reforms. This is all a scam that is being made very clear now as Assad is drowning his nation in the blood of its nation.
[State Tv cannot verify the comment]
Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:13 PM (#15)
After weeks of protests and hundreds of deaths, who is in control of Syria? A UK-Arab journalist who's spent time in Damascus writes for Channel 4 News on the real power brokers of a regime in crisis.
Syria is a coalition between diverse, and often divergent economic and military interests.
Bashar Al-Assad sits atop these competing forces, trying to hold the regime together while struggling to assert his own agenda.
"The difficulty, one of the difficulties, in Syria is that President Assad's power depends on a wide group of people in his own family and, of course, other members of his own government," said the UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague. "I am not sure how free he is to pursue a reform, even if he wanted to do so."
A "dictatorship without a dictator" is how one diplomat described Syria.
So who are the power-brokers - Syria's real rulers? The president's brother, Maher Al-Assad, is Syria's all-powerful security man. While Bashar pushed the argument for reform, promising concessions to the protestors, Maher took matters into his own hands, believing that only the military option could save the regime.
Under Maher's direct command, the Syrian Army's 4th Division led the charge into Daraa on Monday. There were rumours that other divisions tried to halt Maher's private army taking control of the city, but to no avail.
Maher is said to be so out of control that he reportedly shot his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat in the stomach in the presidential palace in 1999.
Shawkat is Maher's greatest rival. He is the army's deputy chief of staff, and the former head of the feared military intelligence.
Shawkat's secret police kept tabs on huge swathes of the population, using a network of informants that could have rivalled the East German Stasi.
Dissidents were regularly dragged into jail on spurious charges and convicted by the Supreme State Security Court (which Bashar has just abolished).
While Maher and Shawkat are the men in control of Syria's guns and jails, the real ire of the protestors is saved for Rami Makhlouf, a first cousin of the president.
Makhlouf's role in Syria's power-game is as the man who runs the country's economy. He controls one of the country's two mobile phone networks, Syriatel, as well as owning some of the most powerful companies, and taking a cut of many foreign investments. Makhlouf, one of the world's richest men, is Syria's Mr 10 per cent.
In 2008, the US named him as a key figure in corruption in Syria, subjecting him to personal sanctions.
Even before the uprising, activists arranged regular Syriatel boycott days. When protestors took to the streets, it was Makhlouf's name they denounced, and Syriatel's offices they attacked.
Many people inside - and outside - the country still see Bashar Al-Assad as a relative moderate within his regime. But the more the country's security services run amok, and as his relatives undermine him with their actions, the more this "reformist" looks like a lame duck.
The author of this article is a British-Arab journalist who wishes to remain anonymous because of security concerns.
Inhumane : PM Erdogan of Turkey accused Maher al Assad of acting inhumanely and pursuing brutality.
The Shadow: Having faith in his abilities, President Assad instructed Shawkat to support Bashar and "never part his side." Shawkat complied, and by 1998, was rumored to have become the strongest man in Syria. (wiki)
The Banker : Rami Makhlouf is described by detractors as the Assad family’s banker
Posted 30 June 2011 - 03:11 PM (#17)
George Galloway on Syria. George Galloway on Syria. Also George's interview with Iranian President is questioned. George clashes with Andrew Neal towards the end of the interview.
Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:10 PM (#18)
I came across this info on the Syrian economy a couple of days ago. It is from a MEMRI blog (ignore this fact). I couldnt find the original source (english arab newspaper). The regime is in trouble economically. The protestors are suffering but they can wear down this nasty regime. InshaAllah.
At the beginning of the uprising the regime increased the salary of government employees to keep them onside. Now they are having to deduct 500 syrian pounds (~$10) every month from each employee.
Also Assad in his last speech said that once calm is restored those with money (who became wealthy under the regime)would be asked how they helped during the difficult period (uprising). Desperation. Assads hated cousin Makhlouf (nicknamed the 'Assad family banker') deposited $1 billion in the Syrian bank to stabalise the situation.
The regime is using the Military and security to crackdown brutally. However this is costly and cannot go on forever. The military cracksdown in one area and another town or city rises up. The military will become stretched out, tired and need fuel supplies etc. I bet they maybe looting houses for jewellery,gold etc from homes to fund the regime low on cash (cynic).
Tourism is dead. Normally $8 billion a year. Only some Shia tourists from Iran visiting to visit religious sites.
Syrian regime trying to increase internal tourism by slashing prices.
Syrian Government Takes Steps to Prevent Collapse of Local Currency
The Syrian regime has deducted 500 pounds (approximately $10) from the monthly salaries of civil servants, as part of its efforts to prevent the collapse of Syria's currency. The employees were told the cut was a "spontaneous donation" on their part.
In response to the opposition's call to withdraw money from the banks in order to collapse the economy, the regime has decided to require citizens wishing to make withdrawals to obtain a special permit. A group of businessmen calling itself the "Syrian Economic Army," headed by President Assad's nephew Rami Makhlouf, called on Syrian businessmen and citizens to strengthen the local currency by exchanging foreign currency for Syrian pounds, and also called to penalize money changers and businessmen who harmed the Syrian currency. According to reports, Makhlouf recently made a large profit trading in Syrian pounds.
Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 3, 2011
Posted 06 July 2011 - 06:23 PM (#19)
Syria has been under the spotlight continuously for a the last couple of months with the worlds eyes remaining on the unfolding situation. This has increased pressure daily and reduced breathing space for the regime.
I remember at the beginning of the Libyan crisis the pressure was building on the regime as it was under continuous spotlight and on top of the headlines. Then the Japanese earthquake happened and for a couple of weeks dominated the news headlines. This did break the continuity of the spotlight and pressure to the relief of the regime but the pressure returned later as Nato got involved etc.
The Syrian regime needs a distraction to take the worlds eyes of whats happening in Syria even for a short while. I hope they dont get any breathing space. InshaAllah. Let the regime suffocate.
Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:35 PM (#20)
The latest Robert Fisk article arrived.
Robert Fisk: The new focus of Syria's crackdown has seen similar bloodshed before
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
History comes full circle in Syria. In February 1982, President Hafez al-Assad's army stormed into the ancient cities to end an Islamist uprising. They killed at least 10,000 men, women and children, possibly 20,000. Some of the men were members of the armed Muslim Brotherhood.
Almost all the dead were Sunni Muslims, although even senior members of the Baath party were executed if they had the fatal word Hamwi – a citizen from Hama – on their identity cards. "Death a thousand times to the hired Muslim Brothers, who linked themselves to the enemies of the homeland," Assad said after the slaughter.
Years later a retired Dutch diplomat, Nikolaos Van Dam, wrote a detailed study of the Baath party and its Alawi leadership, The Struggle for Power in Syria, and stated presciently of the Hama massacre, that "the massive repression... may very well have sown the seeds of future strife and revenge". Never a truer word – and if the activists' estimate that there were 250,000 citizens on the streets of Hama at the weekend to demand the end of the Assad family's rule is correct, then the seeds of future strife were indeed planted in the historic city's soil 29 years ago.
I remember Hama's first siege, when I managed to enter the city by driving down the international highway and getting right in among the Syrian tanks – which were shelling the most beautiful mosque in Hama – because two army officers asked my driver to drop them off beside the river Orontes, where their units were fighting the brotherhood. The soldiers gave me and my driver tea as we took in this terrible scene.
The fighting had gone on for 16 days; girl suicide killers were taking military lives by exploding hand grenades next to them when they were taken prisoner. I only had a few minutes to see all this. Rifaat al-Assad's defence forces in their drab pink uniforms sat on their tanks. Some of them had been badly wounded – they had bandages on their arms. A woman refugee got into my car with her child, but when I tried to give it food, she snatched it and scoffed the lot. She was starving. These, of course, were the parents of the weekend's demonstrators. Perhaps the hungry child was on the streets of Hama three days ago.
The situation was similar yesterday, after 500 troops surged into the city, wounding at least 20 after opening fire. But it's not an Islamic uprising this time – the insurgents of Hama were killing the families of Baath party members in 1982 – but the very name of the city sounds like a tolling bell in the history of the Assads' rule. In those days, Assad let the press into Damascus – which is how I drove to see friends in Aleppo and return via Hama – but this time the regime has simply closed the frontier to almost all reporters.
In 1982, there was no YouTube, no Twitter, there were no mobile phones. Not a single photograph of the dead was ever published. Some of Syria's tanks now appear to be brand new imports from Russia. The problem is that the people's technology is new too.
Like Robert Fisk on The Independent on Facebook for updates