Posts Tagged ‘Bashar el Assad’
The Associated Press has a summary of unrest in the Middle East:
Syria’s vice president calls for a transition to democracy in a country ruled for four decades by an authoritarian family dynasty, crediting mass protests with forcing the regime to consider reforms while also warning against further demonstrations. Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa was speaking at a national dialogue. Key opposition figures driving the four-month-old uprising boycott the meeting, refusing to talk until a deadly crackdown on protesters ends.
Army troops firing in the air clash with stone-throwing protesters in the strategic city of Suez after crowds block a key highway to push for faster reform efforts, including probes of alleged abuses during the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Suez has been hit by days of unrest over calls for swifter action against Mubarak-era officials. In Cairo, protesters block access to the Egyptian capital’s largest government building and threaten to expand sit-ins to other sites.
Elsewhere the Torygraph reports:
“In scenes that would have been remarkable before four months of protests and violent suppression, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad allowed public criticism to be aired at a televised conference and promised “multi-party democracy” in response.
“The bullets are still being fired in Homs and Hama,” said one participant, the writer Tayyeb Tizini, of two major cities that have seen repeated demonstrations. “Laying the foundations for a civil society requires the dismantling of the police state.
“That’s an absolute prerequisite, because otherwise the police state will sabotage all our efforts.” He also called for the freeing of “thousands” of political prisoners, some who he said had been in prison for years.
But the convention was boycotted by many more leading dissidents and opposition figures with links to the street protests, calling its final purpose into question. “I thought 1,500 people died for more than a dialogue between the regime and itself,” one activist wrote on Twitter. “
The world is a busy place and events move on at a pace, so here are a few assortments I nearly missed:
Colonel Qaddafi sends a thank you note to some members of the US Congress.
Andy on the Australian Defence League.
Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride is very colourful, according to the Guardian.
And for the Polyglots amongst you, the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism in many, many languages, including, but not limited to Mongolian and Estonian.
Jen Campbell’s blog is enjoyable. Book lovers will like her series, weird things customers say in bookshops.
The Atlantic Wire has picked apart many of Palin’s emails and it is as you might expect, stunning!
Top 10 trends on Twitter, not sure about this.
Washington Post finds that Palin had a third email account, which is amazing. It shows a hitherto hidden aspect to Palin, dexterity with a PC, who would have thought it?
Are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards helping to kill Syrians?
In Japan, an anti-nuclear protest.
Amnesty International highlights the plight of medical staff in Bahrain that are scheduled to go on trial on Monday.
It seems that the Iranian state is getting people accustomed to the idea of a nuclear test, or at least that is one plausible reading coming out of this piece in the Guardian.
Apparently, a Tory MP has sexually assaulted a woman, and guess who he blames? The woman. Then he proceeds to cast doubt on the veracity of the victim’s account of the assault. I am sure if UCU members read the Indy article with a critical eye they will see a message there.
Another EDL thug.
I think anyone that follows the Middle East would appreciate how the despots and dictators in that region have manipulated, exploited and used the Palestinians as a political football, for their own purposes, but even I was surprised at this story in the Guardian:
“Israeli troops have clashed with protesters on the Syrian border for the second time in less than a month, with several dozen reported injured and claims that up to 20 had been killed.
The violence had been widely predicted after organisers called for a symbolic March on Israel to mark 44 years since the beginning of the six day war in 1967.
However, the clashes were smaller in scale than the last time pro-Palestinian activists confronted Israeli soldiers along borders with Syria, the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon.
The Syrian village of Majd al-Shams was again the focal point with an estimated 1,000 Syrians and Palestinians surging to within 20 metres of the fenced off border over six hours. They threw stones and molotov cocktails at Israeli troops as snipers fired rubber-coated bullets and live rounds at some activists,
One demonstrator who was wounded that day told the Guardian the Lebanese militia Hezbollah had given him $50 to turn up at the border and $900 to have his gunshot wounds treated by physicians. He said he had been planning to return to Maroun al-Ras yesterday until the rally was cancelled.
But as the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown on protests show, protesters are only allowed to gather when the state allows them. The Golan area of Syria is off-limits without state permission.”
The situation in Syria is still very serious, yet in the West comparatively little is heard of Syrian’s dire circumstances or the true level of State organised murder.
In the Western media, the regime’s violent is under reported and not given the prominence that it should have.
This is another example of how the dictatorship in Syria treats people:
“BEIRUT — The boy’s head was swollen, purple and disfigured. His body was a mess of welts, cigarette burns and wounds from bullets fired to injure, not kill. His kneecaps had been smashed, his neck broken, his jaw shattered and his penis cut off.
What finally killed him was not clear, but it appeared painfully, shockingly clear that he had suffered terribly during the month he spent in Syrian custody.
Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was 13 years old.
And since a video portraying the torture inflicted upon him was broadcast on the al-Jazeera television network Friday, he has rapidly emerged as the new symbol of the protest movement in Syria. His childish features have put a face to the largely faceless and leaderless opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime that has roiled the country for nine weeks, reinvigorating a movement that had seemed in danger of drifting.
It is too early to tell whether the boy’s death will trigger the kind of critical mass that brought down the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia earlier this year and that the Syrian protests have lacked. But it would not be the first time that the suffering of an individual had motivated ordinary people who might not otherwise have taken to the streets to rise against their governments. “
One time radical and firebrand, Hassan Nasrallah, has gone with the money.
He is backing the murderous President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. Not too surprising, because if he didn’t, he would lose the support of the Iranian regime and their money.
Since the uprising against the Syrian dictators some 1100 people have been killed by the regime and their thugs, according to Sawasiah, ABC News reports:
“Human rights activists in Syria say the two-month crackdown by security forces on anti-government protesters has cost the lives of at least 1,100 people.
The Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah says it has the names of 1,100 people reportedly killed during the unrest that broke out in mid-March.
Most were from southern areas in Hauran Plain – including the city of Deraa where the protests first began two months ago.
The human rights group says it in fact has heard reports of another 200 civilian deaths but has no names to base the figures on.
The death toll in Syria rose sharply after the protests spread from Deraa to other parts of the country.”
Yahoo News has more on Nasrallah’s speech:
” “We call on all Syrians to preserve their country as well as the ruling regime, a regime of resistance, and to give their leaders a chance to cooperate with all Syria’s communities in order to implement the necessary reforms,” he said in the speech broadcast by his party’s Al-Manar television.
The speech, marking the 11th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation, was broadcast on a giant screen to thousands of Hezbollah supporters in the village of Nabi Sheet, a Shiite stronghold in the eastern Bekaa Valley.
It was the first time the reclusive Hezbollah chief commented on the protests in Syria, which along with Iran is a major backer of his Shiite militant party.
“The difference between the Arab uprisings and Syria… is that President Assad is convinced that reforms are necessary, unlike Bahrain and other Arab countries,” said Nasrallah, who has not appeared in public since 2008.
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.