Over In Syria And More.
Khaled Abu Toameh has had some thoughts on Syria:
“Just as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seif ul Islam, was once praised as the new, liberal and democratic hope of Libya, so Bashar was projected eleven years ago as representing a new generation of Arab leaders willing to break away from a dark and dictatorial past.
But the events of the last few days in Syria, which have seen unarmed demonstrators gunned down by government forces, prove conclusively that when push comes to shove, Bashar is actually not all that different from his late father. As some of his critic comment, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”
His handling of pro-democracy protests that have erupted in several Syrian cities since March 15 is a reminder that Bashar is a dictator who, like Colonel Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, will not surrender power gracefully.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago, Bashar boasted that the Tunisian and Egyptian models did not apply to his country and that there was no fear for the survival of his regime. He was right in the first part of his analysis: both neither the Egyptian nor Tunisian presidents chose to fight their people to the last drop of their blood.
But the second part of his analysis is faulty: Syria is far from immune from the political tsunami of popular uprisings currently sweeping through the Arab world.
Syrian human rights organizations have expressed deep concern over the Syrian authorities’ ruthless and brutal crackdown. They note how in many instances children under the ages of 15 were arrested by the notorious “mukhabarat” secret service for allegedly painting anti-government graffiti on city walls.
In another incident that took place in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, Bashar unleashed his commandos against peaceful worshippers who were staging a sit-in strike in a mosque; he killed dozens and wounded many others.
Syrians are asking: Will the son go as far as his father in stamping down on all protests? The public has not forgotten the terrible events of 20 years ago in the city of Hama, when government forces using artillery and air power killed an estimated 20,000 civilians. “
Reuters’ live coverage on the Middle East is useful.
Meanwhile in Jordon, at least one person is killed, Al Arabiya News reports:
“One bystander was killed and 130 people were injured on Friday as pro-reform protesters and government supporters clashed in Amman, prompting police to use water cannons to disperse them.
Government loyalists hurled large stones at demonstrators, injuring more than 100 protesters, Al Arabiya correspondent in Amman said.
Amer Khairy Saad told Reuters his father, Khairy, 57, died in hospital after police beat him as they were trying to disperse the opposing crowds who had gathered near the Interior Ministry in the Jordanian capital.
“My father left the house to make sure my brother was okay. And then he found police beating him, he was taken to hospital and he died there,” the son, Amer, told Reuters.
About 200 people attacked the sit-in, in which around 2,000 youths from different movements, including the powerful Islamist opposition, took part to call for reforms to the current regime and more efforts to fight corruption.
Despite the attack, the second of its kind in as many days, students remained at the demonstration next to the Interior Circle, or Gamal Abdul Nasser Square, in the capital. “
This is a good discussion with Hussein Ibish on Myth of The Arab Street:
Over in Gaza Hamas have been attacking journalists:
“New York, March 16, 2011–Hamas security forces attacked local journalists covering a peaceful demonstration calling for Palestinian national unity on Tuesday. At least one journalist was taken to the hospital after being beaten, according to CPJ research. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the violence used against the press and calls on the authorities in Gaza to allow journalists to report freely. “