Saturday, March 26, 2011

Syrian government death squad getting ready to terrorize Latikia

From the sheer attitude , numbers and cars they are driving, very little doubt they are government thugs.

Al-Jazeera Video: Crackdown on Syrian protests continues

"At least three people are believed to have been killed by security forces in the Syrian city of Latakia.

The protesters on Saturday were calling for reform, but Buthaina Shabaan, an adviser to president Bashar Al-Assad, said the protests are a plan to exploit sectarian divides. She did not say who was behind the alleged plot.

The government reportedly freed over 200 political prisoners on Saturday.

Protests in Daraa have been going on for over a week and have spread to other parts of the country. In Latakia, snipers were said to be targeting protesters.

In Tafas, people set fire to the office of the ruling Baath party and in Sanamin, security cracked down on protesters on Friday's Day of Dignity.

Please be aware that some of the images in this report may be disturbing. Al Jazeera's Gerald Tan reports. "

Every tyrant makes the same mistake in the Arab uprisings

By Patrick Cockburn

"The despots who have ruled the Arab world for half a century are not giving up without a fight. In the southern Syrian city of Dara, security forces last week machine-gunned pro-democracy protesters in a mosque, killing 44 of them, and then faked evidence to pretend they were a gang of kidnappers. In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a few days earlier, snipers firing from high buildings shot dead or wounded 300 people at a rally demanding the President step down.

In Syria and Yemen, state-sponsored violence has proved counter-effective. Protesters were enraged rather than intimidated. A remarkable aspect of the Arab uprisings is that ruler after ruler is making the same mistakes that brought down Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Local tyrants, from Muammar Gaddafi in Libya to Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, behave as if they had joined a collective political suicide pact whereby they alternate mindless violence and inadequate concessions in just the right quantities to discredit themselves and undermine their regimes.

Recipes for staying in power that have served them so well since the early 1970s suddenly don't work any more. This affects almost all the Arab states, monarchies as well republics, since they have functioned in approximately the same way.

The typical Arab state was based, with some local variations, on a single model: a kleptomaniac elite, often originating in the army and united by sect, tribe or extended family, monopolises power at the top. The government is a corrupt and bloated patronage machine used to reward cronies and followers. The most animate part of the state is the Mukhabarat, as the security services are generally known, which crushes all forms of dissent.

This type of autocracy was buttressed in the Middle East and North Africa by huge oil revenues. Those without oil themselves could get aid from those who had it. Oil states are, by their nature, undemocratic.

The Arab autocracies could also look to superpower backing which, up to 1990, meant the US and the Soviet Union. After the fall of Communism the US was the sole contender for hegemony, though this was never quite complete because Washington failed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian struggle or overthrow the government in Tehran.

For the states most dependent on America, such as Egypt and Jordan, US political domination meant control of crucial security institutions. For instance, the then director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, tried to persuade the newly elected Barack Obama to keep him in his job, according to Bob Woodward's book Obama's Wars, by stressing the tens of millions of dollars the CIA was pumping into foreign intelligence services. He cited in particular the Jordanian General Intelligence Department which, he said, the CIA "owned".

US predominance in the region started to be undermined when President Bush overplayed his hand by invading and then failing to hold Iraq. The neocons spoke openly of regime change in Damascus and Tehran, while the US gave full support to Israel as it ruthlessly colonised the West Bank. America's Arab allies discredited themselves in the eyes of their own people by conniving in or secretly supporting Israel's bombardment of Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

It is easy in retrospect to dwell on the fragility of the Arab states if they ever came under sustained pressure. But until a few months ago they appeared to be the only model, not just for rulers, but for those who wanted to replace them. Yasser Arafat and Fatah, having fought for so long for a Palestinian homeland, in the 1990s established in the West Bank and Gaza a parody of the corrupt Arab police state. The Iraqi Shia religious parties, elected to form a government in 2005, soon began to set up a Shia-dominated version of Saddam Hussein's regime. By one count, there are now eight or nine competing intelligence services, and prisoners are routinely tortured.

So is the old model of the Arab security state as moribund as it ought to be? Gaddafi in Libya, Saleh of Yemen, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the Khalifa royal family of Bahrain evidently do not think so. In Tunisia and Egypt, the army and the ruling class assented to Ben Ali and Mubarak being deposed in order to prevent an uprising turning into a revolution. Gaddafi, with his mix of buffoonery and realpolitik, is showing not so much that he has great support but that his opponents are united only in wanting to be rid of him.

Many things have changed in the Middle East and North Africa, but not everything. The influence of Facebook and Twitter are exaggerated, but satellite television – and, above all, al-Jazeera – the mobile phone, and the internet have been crucial in reducing government control of information and communications. In the 1950s and 1960s, coup-makers would make taking over the state radio station a priority. This would not do them much good today.......

Such ploys may succeed for a time but the day of the classic Arab security state is surely over."

Syria protests continue amid increased international condemnation of regime

The hardline government has been left reeling by fresh clashes on the streets and criticism from the UN and the US

Katherine Marsh, Tom Finn and Martin Chulov, Saturday 26 March 2011

"Syria's hardline regime was grappling to contain new flare-ups after an uprising that has sharply eroded its repressive rule and has so far led to the deaths of at least 55 protesters.
There were fresh clashes in the port city of Latakia, where two people were reported to have been shot dead, as well as in the southern towns of Tafa and Deraa. They came as burials took place across the country amid international condemnation at the uncompromising force shown by the Ba'athist government that has ruled Syria for more than 40 years.

Despite the show of strength, President Bashar al-Assad has been unable to free himself from the most sustained threat to his 11-year rule, which has seen protesters attack posters of him and statues of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled for 30 years. Such acts have been almost without precedent throughout four decades of totalitarian rule...."

'20 shot dead by police, snipers' in Syria

(Protesters tore down and burnt the statue of Hafez al-Assad, the late Syrian president, in Deraa)

Witness says 20 people shot dead by security forces in Latakia as protesters attempt to burn Baath Party headquarters.


"Deaths are reported in clashes (??) between Syrian anti-government protesters and security forces in the coastal city of Latakia, where mourners attending a funeral set fire to the local Baath Party building and a police station.

A witness told Al Jazeera that 20 people, including his brother had been shot dead by police. His brother had been shot in the head and taken to hospital, he said. The family had been told he was dead but the body hadn't been released.

According to the witness, police fired indiscriminately and snipers "shot at specific people".

Earlier, two people were reported killed in Latakia, a coastal city, as they tried to set alight the Baath Party headquarters.

There were also witness reports of Syrian security forces firing tear gas on several hundred protesters who staged a silent sit-in near a mosque in the southern city of Daraa......"

FREE MOHAMED RADWAN الحرية لمحمد رضوان

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"My friend Mohamed Radwan has been detained in Syria, and is facing accusations fabricated by the Syrian security services that he is some Israeli spy. Please help spread the word. He is facing the risk of torture and ill treatment in Syrian custody…"

Egyptian Blogger Batuta arrested by Syrian regime and blamed for incitement of violence

@3arabawi since he is your friend I hope this mobilizes the Egyptian blogger community to expose the Syrian regime.

Damascus, (SANA) – The Syrian Television broadcast on Saturday preliminary confessions of non-Syrians of various nationalities who were arrested during the events taking place in a number of Syrian cities.
The television broadcast the confessions of an Egyptian with American nationality who works in Syria. He said that he visited Israel in secret and confessed to receiving money from abroad in exchange for sending photos and videos about Syria.
The Egyptian said that he received emails from abroad inquiring about the possibility of sending photos and videos about Syria. He received an email asking if he was prepared to assist a Spanish-speaking person from Columbia who communicated with him via email in preparation for a meeting and sending photos and videos.
He said that he was selected because he lived in Syria and carries a camera-equipped mobile phone and can benefit from this opportunity.

Syrian security forces changing their clothes in order to appear like "civilians"

Butheina these are the thugs inciting violence and killing the Syrian people. Check their ID make sure they are not from some "foreign country conspiring to destabilize the beacon of NO in the arab world"

"incitement via the internet "

Hegel said it best : "The only thing we have learned from history is that we have not learned from history". This pathetic Syrian regime and their supporters are acting without LEARNING a single lesson from Tunis, Egypt, Yemen, Libya.

Syria turmoil: Fresh protests erupt

Offices of the ruling Baath party were burned down in the southern town of Tafas and coastal town of Latakia, witnesses said, while hundreds renewed demonstrations in Deraa.
The authorities earlier released more than 200 political prisoners in Damascus, a UK-based rights group said.
The protests are a serious challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The US and the UN had condemned the Syrian government following reports that troops fired on peaceful protesters on Friday.
However, the political and information adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, Bouthaina Shaaban, has told the BBC it was not security forces that had shot protesters but "armed groups" firing on civilians indiscriminately.
The biggest protests on Saturday were in Tafas, 18km (11 miles) north of the city of Deraa, which is close to the Jordan border and which has become the centre of the challenge to the 11-year rule of President Assad.
Thousands took to the streets in Tafas to bury three protesters who witnesses said had been killed by security forces on Friday.
Reports of the deaths of protesters in Syria cannot be independently confirmed.
Meanwhile, Ms Shaaban told BBC Arabic there were "foreign schemes" aimed at destabilising Syria and that a number of foreign nationals had been detained.

[That cunt Butheina (and I don't use that word often or lightly) will do down as the most pathetic propagandist in the Arab revolution era , today she expressed "shock" when Syria released 260 political prisoners saying "I am surprised the number is this high, I don't think we have this many political prisoners !!" ]

Syrians killed in Latikia

Al-Jazeera Video: Libyan rebels recapture oil town Ajdabiya


When I watch a scene like this, with undisciplined "fighters" firing wildly in the air, I shake my head. It reminds me so much of Palestinian fighters when they were in South Lebanon. Firing in the air (and wasting badly needed ammunition) is stupid to say the least. It is all bravado and show off.

Compare that with the disciplined fighters of Hizbullah, where firing in the air to celebrate, is FORBIDDEN!

The lack of discipline and absence of a chain of command among the fighters in Libya is quite obvious. This explains why the revolution failed when it was so close to capturing Tripoli and toppling the tyrant.

More time and training are needed, I realize. The question is: Will the revolution be aborted and stolen by NATO in the meantime? --
Tony Sayegh

"Libyan opposition fighters have recaptured the strategic Ajdabiya, a key oil town just 160 kilometres from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Pro-democracy fighters claim to have moved past Brega further to the west, and that they are heading towards Ras Lanuf, another oil-rich town.

Ajdabiya is the first town to fall back into the hands of pro-democracy fighters, since the air strikes by international forces began on March 20.

British officials say those raids destroyed seven government tanks which threatened the city overnight.

Al Jazeera's James Bays has the latest from Ajdabiya. (26 March 2011)"

Al-Jazeera Video: Live Update: Situation in Sanamin

"Al Jazeera's special correspondent reports from the Syrian town of Sanamin, where several protesters were killed in Friday's crackdown on pro-reform demonstrations.

Our correspondent attended the funerals of six people killed in yesterday's violence, and said the locals from the town of Sanamin are "very, very angry".

Troops opened fire on protesters in cities across Syria and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed in the capital's historic old city as authorities sought to put down demonstrations that exploded nationwide on Friday demanding reform."

Al-Jazeera Video: Update: Anger in Syria

"There is anger in Syria on Saturday as protesters regroup following a huge crackdown by security forces.

The so-called "Day of Dignity" demonstrations were held across the country on Friday. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out on both sides.

Including in the capital Damascus, where pro- and anti-government supporters clashed in the Old Town.

And there are reports of at least dozen more people being shot dead by security forces in as many as six towns and villages.

One person is reported killed by police in a Damascus suburb.

In Latakia, doctors say four people were killed when forces opened fire on a crowd of a thousand.

The highest toll was reported in the village of Sanamin. There locals say troops killed 20 civilians while trying to prevent a march to nearby Daraa

Al Jazeera's correspondent Zeina Khodr, defied a media ban to enter Daraa and bring us this story. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaddafi's invisible force

"Recently, there have been numerous assassination attempts on leading rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi.

Libyans fighting to depose Muammar Gaddafi say he is using hitmen - an invisible force - to carry out targeted killings.

Some documents have been found, detailing those set to be killed. And many more so-called 'Gadaffi lists' are thought to exist.

Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley reports from Benghazi. "

Real News Video: Yemen Dictator Plays Extremist Card

Walid Al-Saqaf: President Saleh warns of Al Qaeda and anarchy if he goes

“As Protests Mount, Is There a Soft Landing for Syria?”


by Joshua Landis

Friday, March 25th, 2011

"The regime has been rocked by protests and is offering to make changes even as it clings to power. But divisions of sect and social class mean that its fate may rest with the choices of the Sunni social elite.

The Ba’athist regime that has ruled Syria for 48 years is on the ropes. Even President Bashar al-Assad himself seems to have been shocked by the level of violence used by Syria’s security forces to suppress demonstrations that began a week ago.....

In order to mount a serious challenge to the regime’s iron grip on power, opposition activists will have to move their protest actions beyond Dera’a and its surrounding villages, and extend it to the major cities. Their attempt to do so presents the country with a choice of great consequence: They must decide if Syria is more like Egypt and Tunisia, where the people achieved sufficient unity to peacefully oust their rulers, or whether Syria is more like Iraq and Lebanon, which slipped into civil war and endless factionalism.....

Key to a successful revolution is splitting Syria’s elite, which comprises the Alawite officer class of the security forces, and the great Sunni merchant and industrial families, who preside over the economy as well as Syria’s moral and cultural universe. If those elites stick together, it is difficult to envisage widespread but scattered popular revolts overturning the regime. But an Alawite-Sunni split within the elite would doom the regime. The cohesion of those elites, though, is a question of social class as much as of confession.....

Having been brought up in privilege in Damascus, the President has more in common with the capital’s elite than he does with the Alawites of the coastal mountains who brought his father to power. When Bashar al-Assad took over after his father’s death in 2000, he began liberalizing the economy and society. High culture has boomed. Foreign imports, tourism and the arts are being revived. Today, Syria is a wonderful place to be wealthy; life is fun and vibrant for the well-heeled.

For the impoverished majority, however, the picture is grim. One third of the population lives on two dollars a day or less. Unemployment is rampant, and four years of drought has reduced Syria’s eastern countryside to a wasteland of dusty and destitute towns and cities like Dera’a. The last thing wealthy Aleppines, Homsis and Damascenes want is a revolution that brings to power a new political class based in the rural poor, or for the country to slip into chaos and possible civil war.

The Arab rebellion is “sorting out” the countries of the Middle East, distinguishing those that have become true nations, with a cohesive political community, and an ability to leave behind the post-colonial era of dictatorship and repression, from those doomed to struggle by divisions of ethnicity, sect and tribe. Lebanon and Iraq have both stumbled. Libya is crashing before our eyes, and Yemen may also follow in a downward spiral.

In all likelihood, there is no soft landing for the Syrian regime, whether it comes sooner or later. Fearful of being pushed from power and persecuted, Alawite military leaders are likely to stick by the president. What remains to be seen is whether the Sunni elite, which has stood by the Assad family for over four decades in the name of security and stability, will continue to do so [EM] or whether President Assad is willing to risk making profound and risky changes."

Libyan rebels celebrate recapture of Ajdabiya - in pictures

Latest scenes from Libya as anti-government rebels recapture strategically important city from Gaddafi forces, Saturday 26 March 2011

(12 photos)

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you support the Arab backing of the military campaign against Gaddafi?

With over 3,000 responding so far, 74% said yes.


I think that it is a poorly worded (perhaps on purpose to keep it vague) poll. It does not specify what kind of military campaign? By whom? Under whose command? Duration? Goals?....etc. Therefore, this 74% support is not very meaningful.

Egypt: Revoke Ban on Strikes, Demonstrations

Cabinet Justifies Restrictions Under Guise of State of Emergency

March 25, 2011

"(New York) - The Egyptian cabinet's announcement on March 24, 2011, of a new law banning strikes and demonstrations that impede the work of public institutions violates international law protections for free assembly and should be reversed immediately, Human Rights Watch said today.

The cabinet's claims that this law is an exceptional measure under the country's emergency law, which is still in effect, is a reminder of the need to revoke the emergency law immediately, Human Rights Watch said. An end to the state of emergency was one of the primary demands of the protesters who gathered in Tahrir Square.

"This virtually blanket ban on strikes and demonstrations is a betrayal of the demands of Tahrir protesters for a free Egypt, and a slap in the face of the families whose loved ones died protesting for freedom," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Any genuine transition toward democracy must be based on respect for the basic rights of the people, including their right to demonstrate."....."

The new Arab awakening

‘Neither with the West, nor against it’
The upheavals taking place across the Arab world have implications not just for the region but the world. As the United Nations attempted to calm the situation in Libya, the US told Gadafy it was time to go. While the EU fears mass immigration from Libya, the US faces the impact on the regional order of the fall of Mubarak, pillar of US policy across the region, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran

by Alain Gresh
Le Monde Diplomatique

"......For decades the US has been able to give Israel almost unconditional support with impunity: Arab leaders have remained faithful, and the US has cared little about being unpopular on the Arab street. But this is coming to an end. In March 2010, General David Petraeus, then head of US Central Command, said: “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world” (5). The new geopolitical context will force the US administration to make crucial choices, but does it have the will, and ability, to do so?

These questions also apply to the EU, which has been compromised by its staunch support for Ben Ali and Mubarak. The EU was incapable of maintaining distance from dictators, has made many agreements with an Israeli government that is hostile to peace, and has promoted neoliberal economic policies that have worsened poverty and facilitated massive corruption south of the Mediterranean. Will it now have the courage to listen to the Arab street, which is not in fact a crowd of bearded fundamentalists and women in niqabs? Perhaps, as the Lebanese writer Georges Corm suggests, civil society in the North should follow the Arab example and “raise the level of protest against the dreadful neoliberal oligarchy that impoverishes European economies, creates too few jobs and every year forces more Europeans of all nationalities into insecurity. This backwards evolution benefits a narrow layer of managers whose annual pay eats up more and more of the nations’ wealth” (6).

....“Neither with the West nor against it” could be the slogan now across the Arab world, expressing a desire for independence and sovereignty in a multi-polar world. They will judge the West by its ability to defend the principles of justice and international law everywhere, particularly in Palestine. But they will no longer allow their governments to use the struggle against the West to justify tyranny."

Friday, March 25, 2011

أبناء الطائفة العلوية مع الثورة .. لا طائفية ..و لا مذهبية

This is for you coward

Down with Assad ثوار سوريا يزيلون صورة الدكتاتور بشار من ميدان درعا

Courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy

Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni activist, provides thorn in side for Saleh

Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni activist, provides thorn in side for Saleh 32-year-old mother of three has faced death threats and prison, but devotion to cause has earned international acclaim

Tom Finn in Sana'a, Friday 25 March 2011

"Tawakul Karman, a 32-year-old mother of three, may seem an unlikely leader of the fight to overthrow the president of Yemen.

But the outspoken journalist and human rights activist has long been a thorn in Ali Abdullah Saleh's side, agitating for press freedoms and staging weekly sit-ins to demand the release of political prisoners from jail a place she has been several times herself.

Now inspired by the uprising in Tunisia and the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, she finds herself at the head of a popular protest movement which is shaking the Yemeni regime to its core....

Karman smiles when asked if she would consider running for president once Saleh stepped down.

"My aim for now is to lead a peaceful revolution to remove this regime," she says. "I think if I can be in the street with the people I can achieve more than if I am the president.""

Syria unleashes force on protesters demanding freedom as unrest spreads

Troops reportedly open fire on anti-regime demonstrators as protests spread from Syria's south to Damascus and Aleppo

Katherine Marsh in Damascus, Tom Finn in Sana'a and Martin Chulov in Beirut, Friday 25 March 2011

"Demonstrations in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and elsewhere were met with force as security forces struggled to contain unrest that had begun in the southern city of Deraa a week ago.

Thousands once again joined funeral processions in Deraa on Friday, chanting: "Deraa people are hungry, we want freedom."

Hundreds took to the streets in the cities of Homs, Hama, Tel and Latakia and in towns surrounding Deraa, with smaller protests in the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo, which are more firmly under the watch of security forces. Troops reportedly opened fire in some cases.

Protests in the capital are rare and not tolerated by the Ba'athist regime. A witness told the Guardian that efforts at protests in Damascus were broken up by plain-clothed agents using batons......

The violence in Syria came after the government had pledged on Thursday to look into reforms. But activists using the Syrian Revolution Facebook page had called for a day of solidarity with Deraa, where according to unofficial reports at least 44 have been killed in the past week.

In the past, many young Syrians had been willing to overlook corruption, a lack of freedom and the slow pace of reforms in return for what they have seen as dignified leadership brought about by Assad's anti-Western foreign policy. He has also had a youthful appeal. Both appear to now be wearing thin.

"Regimes become really weak when their image turns to brutality. The killings in Deraa have done that," said Ziad Malki, an activist living in exile in Switzerland. "The Syrian people want more now."

Others agreed that a turning point had been reached. "Syrians [normally] never come out to protests. This shows how the killings, the worthless reforms announced yesterday and the government propaganda is insulting and is only making us angrier," said a 32-year-old man.

The protests and revolts across the Arab world continued elsewhere in Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian security forces open fire on protesters

"Syrian security forces are reported to be cracking down hard on anti-government protesters across the country.

Witnesses say at least 20 have been killed on Friday, the day activists were calling the 'Day of Dignity'.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr has this exclusive report from the city of Daraa."

سورية: وعود ومجازر

سورية: وعود ومجازر
عبد الباري عطوان

"جرت العادة، عندما يواجه 'بلد ما' ازمة خطرة، داخلية او خارجية، تهدد وجوده واستقراره، يخرج رأس النظام فيه لمخاطبة مواطنيه، مباشرة او عبر شاشات التلفزة، لاطلاعهم على مخططات حكومته لمعالجتها، وشرح الخطوات التي سيتخذها في هذا المضمار.
سورية تواجه حالياً انتفاضة شعبية، انطلقت شرارتها الاقوى من مدينة درعا الجنوبية، وامتدت ألسنة لهبها الى مدن وبلدات اخرى في الوسط والشمال، طالب المحتجون خلالها بالاصلاحات السياسية، واعلاء سقف الحريات، فجاء رد الحكومة فورياً باطلاق النار بهدف القتل، فسقط اكثر من اربعين شهيداً في يوم واحد فقط.
الشعب السوري الوطني الشهم، صاحب التاريخ الحضاري العريق لا يستحق هذه المعاملة من حكامه، فقد صبر اكثر من اربعين عاماً على امل ان يأتيه الفرج، ويرى بلاده واحة من الازدهار والتآخي والعدالة والعيش الكريم، ولكن نفد صبره في نهاية المطاف ولم يجد وسيلة اخرى يعبر فيها عن مظالمه المتراكمة غير النزول الى الشوارع ومواجهة رصاص الطغاة بشجاعة واباء.
ناشدنا الرئيس بشار الاسد من هذا المنبر اكثر من مرة، ومنذ عدة سنوات، بان يستمع الى نصائح الشرفاء من ابناء شعبه، وان ينفذ وعوده بالاصلاح الشامل، خاصة ان الشعب يحبه ويثق بحسن طويته، ولكنه لم يفعل للأسف الشديد، ربما لعدم القدرة، او اعتقاداً بان هذا الشعب لن يقدم على الثورة، وسيستمر في قبول اهانات الاجهزة الامنية واذلالها.
بالأمس خرجت علينا الدكتورة بثينة شعبان مستشارة الرئيس في مؤتمر صحافي، تحدثت فيه عن العديد من الخطوات الجديدة التي سيقدم عليها النظام تلبية لمطالب الشعب السوري 'المشروعة' في الاصلاح السياسي. حيث بشرتنا بان النظام 'يدرس' الغاء حالة الطوارئ، و'يدرس' وضع قانون جديد للاعلام، و'يدرس' قانوناً للاحزاب.
السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه بقوة اولاً: هو عن عدم مخاطبة الرئيس بشار الاسد للشعب السوري بنفسه، وترك هذه المهمة الى الدكتورة بثينة، وليس رئيس الوزراء او وزير الداخلية او حتى الخارجية، وثانياً: هل هذا الوقت هو وقت دراسة قوانين، ام هو وقت التنفيذ الفوري لامتصاص غضبة الشعب، وتهدئة الاوضاع، وتجنب الانفجار الكبير الذي قد يغرق سورية في حمامات دماء لا يعلم إلا الله متى تتوقف؟
الشعب السوري سمع كثيراً مثل هذه الوعود بالاصلاح من الرئيس نفسه، طوال السنوات العشر الماضية، خاصة اثناء المؤتمرات الحزبية، او في دورات افتتاح مجلس الشعب، ولكن ايا من هذه الوعود لم ينفـــــذ، ربما لانها مازالت قـــيد الدراسة. ولذلك لا نعتقد ان وعود الدكـــتورة بثـــينة سيكون لهـــا اي اثر ايجابي في اوساط الشعب، فاذا كانت وعود الرئيس لم تر النور عملياً، فهل سيكون حال وعود السيدة بثينة مختلفة؟
' ' '
المسؤولون السوريون يقولون انهم يرفضون الاقدام على اي خطوات اصلاحية تحت ضغوط الشارع، وعبر مظاهراته الاحتجاجية، وهذا منطق يعكس 'مكابرة' ستودي بأهلها الى الهلاك حتماً، لان الحاكم الذكي هو الذي يلتقط اللحظة المناسبة، ويتحرك فوراً لاطلاق مسيرة الاصلاح، ويتجاوب مع مطالب المحتجين دفعة واحدة، هكذا فعل العاهل المغربي في خطابه الذي وجهه الى شعبه متعهداً فيه باصلاحات دستورية كاملة، وهكذا فعل السلطان قابوس بن سعيد عندما حل الوزارة وطرد المستشارين، وقرر وضع دستور جديد للبلاد.
كان جميلاً ان نسمع السيدة بثينة شعبان تقول ان مطالب الشعب بالاصلاح 'مشروعة' فاذا كان الحال كذلك، فلماذا اعتقال المئات من السوريين والزج بهم في السجون لسنوات دون محاكمات لانهم طالبوا بأقل كثيراً مما
طالب به المحتجون المنتفضون في درعا والمسجد الاموي بدمشق وباقي المدن السورية الاخرى؟
واذا كان تحسين معاملة المواطنين السوريين في المطارات والمنافذ الحدودية السورية هو من بين القرارات التي اعلنت السيدة شعبان عن البدء في تنفيذها فورا، فان السؤال هو عن اسباب اهدار كرامة هؤلاء طوال السنوات الاربعين الماضية، واذلالهم من قبل اجهزة امن قمعية تتلذذ في تعذيبهم نفسيا وجسديا، وتبتزهم ماليا؟
رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب اردوغان قال انه نصح الرئيس السوري بضرورة اجراء اصلاحات اقتصادية وسياسية واجتماعية بسرعة، والافراج عن المعتقلين السياسيين، ولكن نصيحة هذا الرجل الحليف والصديق لسورية لم تجد آذانا صاغية اسوة بنصائح الكثيرين مثله من محبي هذا البلد.
نخشى على سورية من عناد اهل الحكم فيها، مثلما نخشى عليها من اجهزة قمعية امنية ما زالت تتبع عقيدة جهاز المخابرات السري السوفييتي البالية التي لم تحم النظام بل ساهمت في اسقاطه وتفتيت الامبراطورية السوفييتية.
هذه الاجهزة الامنية المتغولة التي ترتكب المجازر في حق شعبها الطيب ستجر البلاد الى هاوية الفتنة الطائفية، وربما الى حرب اهلية تستمر لسنوات، تزهق فيها عشرات ان لم يكن مئات الآلاف، من الارواح البريئة الطاهرة.
النظام في سورية لن يرحل بسهولة ويسر مثل نظيريه المصري والتونسي، رغم ان القمع هو القاسم المشترك بين الانظمة الثلاثة، فهذا نظام بوليسي لا يضاهيه الا النظامان الليبي واليمني. فلا توجد طبقة وسطى في سورية، ومنظمات المجتمع المدني جرى سحقها، ووسائل الاعلام مرتبطة بالدولة وتحكمها عقلية الحرب الباردة، ولكن الشيء الوحيد المؤكد ان الشعب السوري، مثل كل الشعوب العربية الاخرى، لا يمكن ان يتراجع بعد ان انطلقت مسيرته المعمدة بالشهداء نحو التغيير الديمقراطي.
الذين يطالبون بالاصلاح في سورية ليسوا عملاء امريكا والصهيونية، مثلما يطلق عليهم النظام وابواقه الاعلامية في محاولة متعمدة لتشويههم، فشهداء مدينة درعا، واطفالها الذين اعتقلهم رجال النظام، لا يعرفون اين تقع الولايات المتحدة، بل ان معظمهم لم يغادروا مدينتهم الى العاصمة نفسها مطلقا.
' ' '
الوقوف في خندق المقاومة اللبنانية، واستضافة امناء الفصائل الفلسطينية في دمشق بعد ان اغلقت في وجوههم العواصم العربية الاخرى كلها مواقف مشرفة، نعترف للنظام السوري بتبنيها، بل ودفع ثمن باهظ نتيجة لها، ولكننا لا نرى اي تناقض بين اتخاذ هذه المواقف، وتلبية مطالب الشعب السوري بالاصلاح، واذا كان هناك اي تناقض، فاننا نفضل ان يؤجل النظام السوري دعمه للشعب الفلسطيني وقضيته من اجل تلبية مطالب شعبه في اطلاق الحريات ومحاربة الفساد، واقامة المؤسسات التشريعية المنتخبة، وتكريس دعائم الحكم الرشيد. فالشعوب المقهورة لا يمكن ان تحرر ارضا مغتصبة، وجيوش الديكتاتوريات لم تنتصر في اي حرب خاضتها.
الاسابيع والاشهر المقبلة ستكون خطيرة جدا على سورية، لان النظام فيها يقف حاليا امام خيارين، فاما النموذج الليبي حيث التدخل العسكري الاجنبي الذي قد يقود الى دولة فاشلة او التقسيم بل احتمال التفتيت ايضا، او النموذج العراقي، اي الاحتلال الاجنبي، وربما يمكن تبلور نموذج ثالث وسط بين النموذجين المذكورين.
اعداء النظام السوري كثر، في الداخل والخارج، واصدقاؤه قلائل للأسف الشديد، وخاصة في داخل سورية نفسها، والحصانة الوحيدة لتجاوز كل سيناريوهات الرعب المرسومة التي من الصعب تصورها هي الدعم والالتفاف الشعبي.
السؤال الاخير هو: هل هناك فرصة للانقاذ من خلال تطبيق سريع وفوري للاصلاحات؟ الاجابة بالايجاب صعبة، والامر يتطلب معجزة، وممارسات امن النظام الدموية تدفع في الاتجاهات الاخرى، نقولها بمرارة شديدة.

Authorities impose news blackout on crackdown in Deraa

"Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the censorship that the Syrian authorities have imposed on national and foreign news media seeking to cover events in the southern city of Deraa. The security forces have blocked access to the city so that there is no one to witness their ruthless crackdown on the protests that have been taking place there during the past few days.

Ahmed Hadifa, a 28-year old blogger better known by the blog name of Ahmad Abu Al-Kheir, was arrested again by the security services in Damascus yesterday “because of his activities on Facebook in support of the protests in Deraa.” Hewas previously held for several days in February without being formally charged.

Maan Aqil, journalist, was detained yesterday after being constantly harassed during the preceding days. Mazen Darwish, the head of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, was released last night after after being summoned for questioning on 23 March for making statements about the crackdown in Deraa and the recent wave of arrests.

Darwish had already beenheld for several hours on 16 March after being arrested while attending a peaceful sit-in outside the interior ministry headquarters in Damascus as an observer.

Writer and political activist Louay Hussein was also released last night after being arrested at his home on 22 March because of his online activities in support of the demonstrations and calls for reform.

The authorities blocked distribution of the leading pro-government daily Al-Watan yesterday without giving explanation although it is owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the president. Media sources blamed the move on an article headlined “The Syrian media are lying to us.”.....

Reporters Without Borders has learned that a photographer and a freelance video reporter working for Agence France-Presse and an Associated Press photographer were briefly held and roughed up while covering the demonstrations in Deraa on 22 March. Their equipment was seized and was handed back a few hours later. When the AFP journalists tried to return to Deraa the next day, their equipment was again seized. They have not yet been able to recover it."

Tearing down the picture of the Grand Butcher Hafez in Homs

The Coward Rabbit auditioning in front of the other cowards

Syrians have awaken: Demonstration in Damascus today

رسالة من تحت الباب إلى الآنثة بثينة شعبان

By the Great Syrian Cartoonist
Ali Ferzat

Courtesy of Angry Arab

"أعجبتني حركاتك المسرحية وأنت تقفين وراء معشوقك المكرفون أثناء مؤتمرك الصحفي المسبق الصنع بالأسئلة والأجوبة ....اسمحي لي أن سأسألك يا آنسة ...كوني من خارج مؤتمرك .......نريد منك توضيحاً لا لبس فيه وبدون لف أو دوران كما تعودت عليه حين سألك الوفد البريطاني لماذا تحجبون الفيسبوك عن الجماهير فكان جوابك أنه خوفاً علينا من التواصل مع الاسرائيلين حتى كدت أظن أنك تحرصين على هذا الشعب من أن يغرر به أحد وكما تعرفين أنه بحاجة إلى عطفك وبضعاً من "البامبيرز " لأنه لم يبلغ سن الثالثة من عمره ...أعود إلى السؤال يا آنسة بثينة ...كيف تستجيبون لمواطنين اتهمتموهم بالعمالة والمدسوسية والخيانة وبنفس الوقت تبلغونهم قراركم بتطبيق كل مطالبهم ومطالب السوريين بالإصلاح ثم تعترفون وتتأسفون لهم عماارتكب بحقهم من ممارسات غير انسانية ...أفهمونا نحن قليلي الفهم من يكونوا أولئك الذين ارتكب بحقهم مجزرة مؤسفة تحت مسميات المدسوسين والعملاء والمأجورين ..؟ ومن تكونوا أنتم.....؟؟؟؟؟!!!!!!!!!

Video: تصد دموي لاحتجاجات سوريا



You Don't Need to Speak Arabic to Understand.....
The Graphic Pictures Tell All....
Gaddafi Should Take Lessons From the Cowardly Rabbit!

"اتسع نطاق الاحتجاجات المطالبة بالإصلاح في سوريا وامتد ليشمل العاصمة دمشق وبلدات داعل والتل وحماه وحمص واللاذقية والصنمين, إلى جانب درعا التي شهدت أعنف المواجهات, وسط تحرك رسمي لفرض قيود على تغطية وسائل الإعلام.

ونقلت رويترز عن شاهد عيان أن قوات الأمن السورية قتلت عشرين محتجا على الأقل في الصنمين قرب درعا، وقال إن قوات الأمن "أطلقت النار عشوائيا على المصابين".

وقال شاهد عيان من منطقة الصنمين "محمد إبراهيم" للجزيرة إن عشرات القتلى سقطوا بعد تدخل قوات الأمن في مناطق أخرى مثل درعا وحمص واللاذقية.

كما نقلت الوكالة عن شهود آخرين أن قوات الأمن فضت مظاهرة في وسط العاصمة دمشق نظمت لتأييد المحتجين في مدينة درعا الجنوبية، واعتقلت عشرات الأشخاص

The Massacre in Sanamen today

مجزرة الصنمين

BREAKING NEWS! Deaths as Syrian forces fire on protesters


"Syrian security forces have opened fire on anti-government protesters near the city of Daraa, killing at least 20 people, residents have told Al Jazeera.

"There are more than 20 martyrs .... they [security forces] opened fire haphazardly," the witness said.

Reuters also reported that heavy gunfire could be heard in the southern city, the focal point for demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad''s regime in recent days.

Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Damascus, said Syrian forces apparently opened fire after protesters started setting fire to a statue of the late president Hafer al-Assad...."



SYRIANS HAVE WOKEN UP : Kafr Soosa today


Al-Jazeera Video: Live update from Syria's Daraa city

"Protesters calling for freedom gathered in capital Damascus and other areas around Syria as security forces ordered journalists to leave a southern city where a brutal weeklong siege on demonstrations killed dozens of people.

Al Jazeera's special correspondent, reporting from among the pro-reform demonstrators in the southern city of Daraa, 100 kilometres south of Damascus, said: "No one here is calling for a regime change".

"No one here is chanting slogans against the president Bashar al-Assad. The people here say they want freedom, they want reforms."

Visit the Al Jazeera website for more on our special coverage of the unrest in Syria."

Mission Creep

Marwan Bishara examines the politics of NATO's intervention in Libya.

"Why the opposition regarding NATO taking charge of the Libya operation?

In short, non-Western international powers distrust the Western military alliance.

BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and South Africa within IBSA's southern democracies (India, Brazil and South Africa) have all voiced concerns and outright objections.

They reckon that Western powers are exploiting Arab and international support for the international no-fly zone to expand the alliance's role and mission in the future beyond its core mission of defending Europe.

They specifically oppose the notion of NATO becoming de facto the UN Security Council enforcer.....

And what about the confusion or opposition within NATO?

In the absence of imminent danger against the alliance's territories, one should not expect its 28 democracies with different national priorities to agree on the specifics of NATO's military intervention in a foreign country.

This is especially the case when its two European nuclear powers, France and the UK, pull ahead and expect the rest to follow in their stead and cheer.....

What does all this mean to Libya?

After six days of bombing, the Gaddafi forces have been seriously hampered, but the balance of power on the ground is yet to be reversed.

Meanwhile, the Libyan revolutionaries continue to fight bravely despite the superiority of the regime's firepower. Their high spirits and readiness to sacrifice continues to make up for their military inferiority.

As highly paid mercenaries and well armed militias confront highly motivated rebels ready to sacrifice all including their lives, history tells us the latter is bound to win, if not sooner, then later. Remember, while armed militias fight out of loyalty to a despotic leader, patriots sacrifice for their country and its freedom. Arming the latter could reverse the balance of power in no time and perhaps ending the Gaddafi regime.

Concerns that Libya could descend into civil war or become dependent client state are legitimate in light of the Western military intervention.

But it's up to the Libyans to reject any such notion of dependency in the future, and for the new democracies flourishing around them to support their collective rights for free self determination from neo- colonial influence. Unlike dictatorships, democracies tend to be less prone to clientalism.

No 'I-owe-you's have gone out and no receipts or down payments have been issued to Western powers thus far by the Transtional National Council that we know of, and it could and should remain that way.

As the Libyans go to Addis Ababa at the invitation of the African Union that has long voiced its concerns of Western intervention, political or diplomatic efforts should concentrate on ending the Libyan suffering sooner rather than later.

The end game hasn't change. Gaddafi must go. Not because Obama said it, rather because as the Arab revolution puts it, "the people want to bring down the regime"."

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Virginity Checks Are Army's Latest Weapon

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Mar 24, 2011 (IPS) - Fresh-faced Salwa El-Hosseiny had joined protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square when a plainclothes officer grabbed her and dragged her to army officers stationed in a nearby museum.

The veiled 20-year-old claims she was beaten, electrocuted and verbally abused, then sent with nearly twenty other female detainees to a military prison on the outskirts of Cairo. It was there that the army, which has ruled Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, allegedly unleashed its latest weapon to curb dissent -- sexual humiliation.

"I was taken to a military prison along with other girls and we were placed in a room with two doors and a window," El-Hosseiny recounted during a press conference last week. "We begged the female guard to close the doors but she refused. We were ordered to remove all our clothes and were searched while cameras filmed us is order to fabricate evidence of prostitution."

El-Hosseiny, and other women detained at the prison, testified that a man claiming to be a doctor performed "virginity checks" on the unmarried girls in the group, threatening that those who failed the test would be charged with prostitution.

"The (female) prison guard stripped us and was beating us with hoses," said one detainee, who identified herself as an unmarried 29-year-old social worker. "The guard said 'girls will be examined, women won't.' I was examined for my virginity by a man wearing a white coat and a female prison guard."....."

Thousands chant "freedom" despite Assad reform offer

By Suleiman al-Khalidi

DERAA, Syria Thu Mar 24, 2011

"(Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public pledge to look into granting Syrians greater freedom on Thursday as anger mounted following attacks by security forces on protesters that left at least 37 dead.

Despite the promise and the offer of large public pay rises, thousands of Syrians turned out to chant "freedom, revolution" in the center of the southern city of Deraa, the focal point of protests against 48 years of Baath Party rule.

"The Syrian people do not bow," they also chanted around the main Omari mosque, shortly after security forces evacuated the building which they stormed on Wednesday.

Syrian opposition figures said the promises did not meet the aspirations of the people and were similar to those repeated at regular Baath Party conferences, where committees would be formed to study reforms that then never saw the light of day.

"The leadership is trying to absorb the rage of the streets. We want to see reform on the ground," said a Deraa protester.

A hospital official said at least 37 people had been killed in Deraa on Wednesday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators inspired by uprisings across the Arab world that have shaken authoritarian leaders.

While an aide said Assad would study a possible end to 48 years of emergency rule, a human rights group said a leading pro-democracy activist, Mazen Darwish, had been arrested.

Announcing promises for reform in a manner that would have seemed almost unimaginable three months ago in Syria, Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told a news conference the president had not himself ordered his forces to fire on protesters [A typical cowardly behavior of.....A Rabbit!]......"

Syria: Security Forces Kill Dozens of Protesters

Many Activists and Protesters Arrested

March 24, 2011
"(London) - Syria's security forces should immediately stop using live ammunition against protesters in the southern town of Daraa, where the death toll has risen considerably in the last 48 hours, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should also immediately release all those detained for protesting peacefully or expressing their opinions.

A Syrian human rights group has released a list of 36 dead in Daraa and its surrounding areas since protests began on March 18, 2011, while an official in the main Daraa hospital told Reuters on March 24 that the hospital had received the bodies of at least 37 protesters.

"Syria's security forces are showing the same cruel disregard for protesters' lives as their counterparts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "President Bashar al-Asad's talk about reforms doesn't mean anything when his security forces are mowing down people who want to talk about them."

At around 1:30 a.m. on March 23, Syrian security forces using teargas canisters and live bullets stormed the al-Omari mosque in Daraa, where protesters had gathered since March 18, two Daraa residents told Human Rights Watch. One resident, who was about 25 meters from the mosque at the time, said he saw corpses on the street. The phone conversation was interrupted by repeated gunfire.

A Syrian activist who has been closely monitoring the situation and speaking to Daraa residents by phone told Human Rights Watch, "It sounded like a war zone on the other end. I am really worried about a massacre."

Two Syrian human rights activists said that seven protesters were killed that night, including a child, Ibtisam al-Musalema......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria update

"Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, has promised to consider reforms after a week of violent protests in the southern city of Daraa.

But that has not stopped the protesters who have called for countrywide demonstrations on Friday.

Thousands of people were on the streets on Thursday to mourn people they say were shot during the government's crackdown.

There are reports that Assad will speak to his nation within the next few hours to try to calm the situation.

Here's more from Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from the capital, Damascus."

Al-Jazeera Video: Fight for Ajdabiya continues

"Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are said to have taken up key positions around the opposition-held city of Ajdabiya.

The eastern city has been fought over now for more than two weeks.

Many people have fled and others are hiding indoors.

Al Jazeera's James Bays reports on the desperate conditions for people who have chosen to stay."

Welcome to the new NATO quagmire

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"The decision for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to run the show on Libya is a copy of the International Security and Assistance Force arrangement in Afghanistan. Libya is now an official victim of the endless war club and since it is on the ground in Central Asia, NATO is about to enter the era of the double quagmire....

NATO will be in charge of enforcing the no-fly zone and the arms embargo. Sooner rather than later NATO will decide that's not enough - that more air strikes on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces are essential. Turkey has not signed up for that kind of action - and has already said it won't.

When the NATO secretary general, Danish right-winger Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says something like, "we must think how NATO can assist North African countries in their transition to democracy", Turkey better have an exit strategy, or at least a good explanation to the Muslim world when a deadly quagmire sets in. Otherwise, from a bridge between East and West, it will be reduced to a bridge to hell. "

Public Transport workers declare a free union

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

"Thursday was a fantastic day ya shabab! I attended the launching of a new independent union in Egypt, by the BRAVE public transport workers, whose strikes were central to the overthrow of Mubarak. This was followed by another declaration of another free union, by the Manshiyet el-Bakri Hospital workers.

Many of the workers present in the event also signed to join the Democratic Labor Party. More free unions are coming soon, mark my word. The strategy adopted by the radical left is giving full support for the strike wave, pushing strongly in the direction of forming a unified labor party that represents the political interests of the working class in the ongoing revolution and, in parallel efforts, building a new federation of independent trade unions.

This revolution is hardly finished, and we have to work 25 hours a day to liaise between strike leaders and organizers of social protests across the country. We need to create national coordinating mechanisms. The spontaneity of the current strikes is not enough to achieve victory. We need structures, formed by the workers themselves, that will link the different industrial centers together, and reach out to the civil servants and students. Only then we can talk of overthrowing the military dictatorship."

Kickbacks between Libya and the west have helped Gaddafi cling to power

All Gaddafi's rapprochement with the west has achieved is to give him the resources to tighten his grip on the Libyan people

Alexander Chancellor
(Guardian Columnist)
The Guardian, Friday 25 March 2011

"Colonel Gaddafi is nothing if not a caring father. He does everything he can for his boys, arranging, for example, that they grow hugely rich from corrupt dealings with foreign companies. Extracts from leaked state department documents published in the New York Times provide the evidence for this. Emanating from WikiLeaks, they include one state department cable which in 2009 came to the pithy conclusion: "Libya is a kleptocracy in which the regime – either the al-Qadhafi family itself or its close political allies – has a direct stake in anything worth buying, selling or owning." (The cable used the department's spelling of Gaddafi.) Other cables revealed it sometimes demands billion-dollar "signing bonuses" for contracts with western oil companies. A Canadian company, Petro-Canada, was reported in the Toronto Globe and Mail not only to have paid one such bonus but also to have sponsored an exhibition of the dreadful paintings of Saif Gaddafi and to have been involved, through a middleman, in getting him to take part in a pheasant shoot on Princess Anne's Gloucestershire estate.

This bonanza of kickbacks and corrupt deals, in which western companies greedy for Libyan oil participated, got under way when the US reopened trade with Libya in 2004, the year Tony Blair paid his famous visit to the colonel in his desert retreat and kissed him on his hairy cheeks. Their embrace seems even more nauseating now, for it marked the beginning of a period in which the Gaddafi regime began to accumulate the wealth with which it may yet frustrate the purposes of the US, France and Britain.

According to the New York Times, US officials believe this wealth includes tens of billions of dollars in cash that the colonel is using to pay soldiers, mercenaries and supporters in his struggle for survival...... All that his rapprochement with the west has achieved is to give Gaddafi the resources with which to tighten his tyrannical grip on the Libyan people and give him a chance of clinging on to power against the odds......"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Syrian people outraged over government shootings in Daraa

Human rights groups say that more than 100 people may have been killed when troops opened fire on a mosque

Katherine Marsh in Damascus, Thursday 24 March 2011

"Syria's government pledged to consider protesters' "legitimate demands" after thousands took to the streets for the funerals of nine people killed by the military.

Rights activists described Wednesday's shootings in the southern city of Daraa as a massacre, claiming that more than 100 people may have been killed when troops fired on a mosque in the early hours and throughout the day.

With protests called for after Friday prayers, Buthaina Shaaban, adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, announced that the government would consider ending Syria's emergency law and revise legislation for political parties and the media. Similar reform pledges have been announced in the past, and are unlikely to satisfy protesters....."

Supporting the children of Omar Mukhtar

Western intervention in Libya marks a difficult moment in Arab history as empowerment is overwhelmed by helplessness.

By Lamis Andoni

"Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, must go. But it is critical that his downfall come at the hands of the Libyan people rather than as a result of Western military intervention in the country.

Western intervention in the country conjures up images of the destruction of Iraq and revives memories of the region's colonial past. Furthermore, it tarnishes the spirit of the revolutions spreading across the Arab world, for these are aimed not only at removing dictators but at establishing free Arab governments. And free Arab governments cannot be imposed through Western interference.

No government is free if at its very inception it depends upon external powers – powers that, in the Libyan case, have their eye on the country's oil wealth and are motivated by geopolitical interests.

It is true that Western military intervention in the country was brought about by Gaddafi's murderous crackdown on his own people. But it is also the result of the Arab world's failure to protect the people of the region from ruthless dictators and self-serving authoritarian rulers.

Furthermore, the bombing we have witnessed is a manifestation of the weakness of the UN – a body that has allowed the interests of major powers to define the nature and agenda of the current intervention.

The Libyan people needed and continue to need protection. But the current state of the UN permits countries like the US, France, Britain and Italy to cynically use "the mandate to protect" in order to preserve and expand their own interests.....

The danger posed to the Libyan people has opened the door to Western intervention and reinstated a sense of helplessness for the Arab people just when they had begun to feel empowered to take control of their own destiny.....

Arabs must be prepared to support the children of Omar Mukhtar - not only in overthrowing a dictator but in ensuring they do not pay the price for Western intervention. Libya must not be turned into another failing state or succumb to a new form of colonialism. To ensure this, Arab revolutions elsewhere must continue and succeed."

وعود سورية بالإصلاح وغليان بدرعا


"قالت بثينة شعبان مستشارة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد إن سوريا اتخذت قرارات هامة، من بينها دراسة إنهاء العمل بقانون الطوارئ بشكل عاجل، بينما شيع أهالي درعا قتلاهم وسط هتافات تطالب بالثأر لهم والحرية لسوريا. ويتزامن ذلك مع دعوة وجهها ناشطون إلى تنظيم مظاهرات في كل أنحاء سوريا يوم غد في إطار ما سموه "جمعة الكرامة".

وقالت شعبان في مؤتمر صحفي في دمشق إن القيادة القطرية لحزب البعث اجتمعت برئاسة الرئيس بشار الأسد وقررت وضع آليات جديدة لمحاربة الفساد وإنهاء الطوارئ ودراسة إصدار قانون ينظم عمل الأحزاب السياسية وقانون جديد للإعلام

Protests prompt Syria to pledge reforms.

Video: شام - درعا - 2 - سنكشف الحقيقة تباعا 23-3-2011

Courtesy of Angry Arab

Al-Jazeera Video: Empire - The Brotherhood


"After decades in the political wilderness, the Muslim Brotherhood became an integral part of the popular upheavals that swept through the Arab world - and while they may not have initiated the recent revolution in Egypt, the overthrow of Mubarak's regime leaves a power vacuum that the Brotherhood are now well-positioned to fill. How will the Muslim Brotherhood reconcile their ideology with democracy?"

Real News Video: Qatar, Al Jazeera and the Middle East

Gilbert Achcar: From Al Jazeera to US Central Command, Qatar conducts a complex foreign policy

More at The Real News

Real News Video with Transcript: US Defends Bahrain Dictatorship

Husain Abdulla: Hypocrisy defending rebels in Libya but supporting regime in Bahrain

More at The Real News

Thousands Protest in Syria After Gov’t Forces Kill Scores of Demonstrators

"An estimated crowd of more than 20,000 has turned out for the funerals of victims killed in a Syrian government attack on a mosque housing protesters in the city of Daraa, which in recent days has seen some of Syria’s largest demonstrations in decades. Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead, but witnesses say the toll could be far greater. Daraa is under curfew and the Syrian government has reportedly issued announcements telling residents they will be shot if they leave their houses. We speak with prominent human rights attorney Haitham Maleh in Damascus and with his son Iyas Maleh, in Brussels......"

Palestine and the Egyptian revolution: a view from Gaza

(Egyptian riot police sprays water cannons at Palestinians trying to cross into Egypt through the destroyed section of the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt January 25, 2008.)

(Egyptian border guards prevent Palestinians from crossing from the southern Gaza Strip.)

Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 23 March 2011

"When I was asked by a solidarity activist about the impact of the end of the Mubarak regime on the Gaza Strip, my immediate answer was that it would definitely mean the end of the deadly siege that has been imposed on Gaza since 2006. Yet, we in Gaza are still waiting.

The deposed Egyptian regime made it its duty to make sure that the Palestinians of Gaza be kept within the walls of the Israeli-guarded concentration camp. The foreign minister of the former regime, Ahmed Abou Elgheit, in whose presence Israel's winter December 2008-January 2009 war on Gaza was symbolically declared by the presence in Cairo of his then Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni just days before the attack, became obsessed with "breaking the bones of those who trespass against Egypt's national security."

He was referring to the starving children, men and women of Gaza who, in an act of unprecedented heroism in January 2008, tore down the wall on the Egypt-Gaza border and flooded the streets of the Egyptian town of al-Arish to buy food, milk and medicine, and then went peacefully back to their homes. The old regime's spokespersons and political analysts shamelessly made it their duty to demonize Gazans in order to justify the closure of the Rafah Crossing, the only official border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Accusations of "terrorism,""vandalism" and "threats to national security" were thrown around.

So fearful of his Gazan neighbors was Egypt's ex-minister of interior Habib el-Adly, who is now behind bars, that he indulged in the hysterical charge that the recent popular Egyptian revolution was caused by "some Hamas infiltrators." The same ruthless minister had also accused Palestinians from Gaza of being behind the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve, which killed 21 persons. Indeed now it is el-Adly himself, and Egypt's state security police, who are under suspicion and investigation of carrying out that and other sectarian attacks....

Now the question that begs for an answer is about the future of the Egyptian-Palestinian relationship. The Rafah Crossing is "partially" open for a few passengers but no goods, food or medicine are allowed. Some Palestinians are turned back every day, and the decision taken by the previous government not to grant Gazans entry via Cairo airport is still in force. The sentiment on the streets of Palestine has, naturally, been supportive of the revolutions in the Arab world and this is in spite of the position taken by the two controlling parties in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to ban all solidarity demonstrations.

Radical change in Egypt should mean radical change in Palestine as well: a pro-Palestine Egypt should mean the end of the siege. But when will we see that? Is it too much to ask? Do we have to "understand" the difficulties the new rulers of Egypt have to deal with, while we are starving and still besieged in Gaza? If this is the case, why do we, Palestinians of Gaza, have to pay the price? Are all other Egyptian crossings and border posts "partially" open like the Rafah gate? And are we, by posing such questions, still considered "a threat to Egypt's national security?""