Assad or We Scorch the Country (By OTW)

First, I would like to start this post by wishing all a serene Passover and Easter. May we all celebrate next year in a Syria liberated from tyrants.

OK, so it seems that we have two different points of views on 7ee6an, both expressed eloquently and with passion and both defended and criticized strongly. At risk of extreme over simplification, the first idea may be summarized as arguing that armed resistance only aggravates the regime and provides it with excuses to inflict more violence and horror, not to mention being a failure in comparison with the “more effective” national scale civil disobedience, which should be pursued at all costs towards bringing down the regime. The second argument, and again risking oversimplification, stresses the right of people for self defense, and highlights that the regime’s use of force is independent of the level of violence exerted by any armed faction in the revolution, which in turn if sufficiently armed, will exact punitive blows at the regime’s barbarity, especially in enhancing the odds for further defection from the ranks of forces under its control.

To me, such discussion justifies all the efforts that went into launching and maintaining 7ee6an and the hard work we all have done so far to ensure a quality of discussion that distinguishes the contributions to this blog from hysterical rants of absurdity.  This discussion reflects the ongoing mental anguish many among those supporting the revolution are going through. I myself continue to have hard time making my mind regarding which option to support. But given both tracks of thinking it would seem that the advocacy for a full scale “non violent” civil disobedience, by its nature and intellectual grounding and legacy  does exclude an armed resistance track of the revolution, especially if it calls for halting any plans to arm the FSA. On the other hand, the presence of armed factions, especially one borne, as the argument goes, to protect peaceful protest, does not exclude the preparation for and the carrying out of “non-violent” actions and strategies with increasing organization all the way to the desired nationwide civil disobedience. It does however complicate that strategy and makes pursuing it much harder.

Supporters' slogan "Assad or we scorch the country" written by Regime thugs after the looting and intimidation campaign in the upper scale neighborhood of Inshaat in Homs.

The Assad regime has pursued the “violent” option with vengeance and brutality from day one.  It may now tolerate a few non-violent demonstrations here and there primarily as a matter of setting priorities in terms of sequencing its wanton destruction of the country and scheduling its next bombardment target.  Those arguing for full exclusion of armed opposition, and for starving the FSA should be mindful of the slogan “الأسد أو نحرق البلد ” (Assad or we scorch the country) painted by the regime thugs and soldiers in every place they scorched and advertized on the walls of their headquarters and even public busses. In this slogan, the regime loyalists, which are part and parcel of the regime, declare their adherence to the Assad’s cult. The adherent of this semi religious cult are now drunk with blood and smoke after a year of relentless efforts to remove all traces of scruples that may inhibit further brutality and barbarity on their side. They need no excuses to exact their violence, which has been proven time and again as an inherent part of their cult and of the fabric that binds the regime. The shelling continues throughout the country despite of the absence of any armed resistance in most areas being shelled. Snipers, who according to loyalists on other blogs are to be excluded from Annan plan since they don’t use heavy weapons, continue to terrorize innocent civilians in many Syrian streets and the list of their victims continues to increase. Terror in regime torture dungeons never stopped and will never stop, even with the presence of international monitors, and demonstrations in Aleppo and elsewhere continue to be suppressed with increasing brutality and use of live ammunition contrary to the earlier “appease Aleppo” approach. The number of victims of regime brutality has not gone down with many murders occurring in areas where FSA is either none present or has not been very active.

All of this should put to rest the notion that the presence of FSA as an impetuous for regime violence. Violence is the hallmark of this regime with or without FSA. Such violence has been extended beyond destruction into deliberate theft and looting of areas invaded by regime forces, as happened to many areas in homs including those with large presence of certain minorities. The regime propagandists and shrill shills persistently claims that these thefts and destructions are the work of FSA or “islamist”, “saudi” funded “mercenaries. But I have strong evidence that would put the hysterical defenders of the regime to shame, if they know any, which is unlikely based on their continuing mental and ethical degeneration. Fear for the safety of friends whose homes and businesses in Homs have been ransacked and looted by regime forces is the only reason I am not sharing these evidence, which I hope to be used in a court of law in the near future.

Supporters of the argument against arming FSA and/or other rebel forces also have their own strong  case in Idlib’s country side to add to Baba Amr story book. Idlib’s country side has been turned into a wasteland by the regime’s “scorched country” policy presenting a serious refugee crisis internally as a slightly lesser one externally (yesterday more than 2500 refugees from Idlib’s country side crossed the border to Turkey). The presence of refugees, especially children from Homs and other areas is exacting its toll on the people, and at the same time is (also not addressed in Anan’s plan) will compound the situation

Regime slogans painted on a public bus in Syria. The white slogan reads "when lions come, dogs flee", the black slogan reads "Assad or we scorch the country".

The slogan “Assad or we scorch the country” should not be taken lightly. It is a well known slogan of Assad forces from days of the dynasty founder. It has been demonstrated repeatedly and the fact that it continues to be ignored by regime propagandists (even those pretending to be intellectual peace loving) removes any pretense to ethical grounding on their side and shows clearly that they do concur with it despite of their claims that “they are not pro regime” and that they “have some criticism of the regime”. But more important is that it tells of the mentality of the hard core loyalists. While to the ignorant shabeeh or loyalist it may simply be the result of decades of brainwashing and propaganda aiming to replace the national identity with Assad cult, it is an existential reality to the real power centers behind the regime. Many of the wealthy elites of Syria owe their wealth and privileges to the Assad clan (which includes non family members across all sects). As a class, they may have members with conscious who now side with the revolution, yet as a class, their loyalty and interests will continue to be vested in the system of corruption and coercive terror that is founded on disregard and contempt for the masses (as argued by Yassin Haj Salih in the article linked by Zenobia). There is no point in pursuing their support for the revolution, for they are part of the problem and of the regime’s power structure. Members of this elite now hide sometimes behind secularism and others behind law and order in their opposition to the revolution in both its armed resistance and non-violent form, but they know that if the regime is gone, they are to follow even if national reconciliation is to commence. Their participation as partners in the economic crimes of the regime make many of them complicit in the civil right violations and graft and intimidation against honest members of the business community in Syria and such crimes are bound to be investigated and/or exposed during reconciliation. I am eager to hear the opinion of most esteemed Son of Damascus on this point and would love to be corrected if such is possible.

Getting back to topic, given that violence was the regime’s option and strategy, it could be argued that the question is not whether FSA has caused damage to the revolution in the sense of justifying the regime’s brutality and mayhem, but that whether the current starving of FSA can have adverse effects on the revolution, and whether a regime so attached to violence can be realistically overthrown by non-violent means such as civil disobedience.

To answer this question one has to recognize that even Sharp himself warns that civil means do not guarantee success. This is perhaps most clear in Syria, where for months, the revolution maintained a non violent character, and where such character remains to date the most obvious of the revolution that is being put down with a combination of physical brute force and hysterical media campaign by the regime and its unholy band of partners and supporters (internally and externally). Then, one must also consider that unlike other countries, the size of the “government” remains huge in Syria, which complicates civil disobedience efforts as the regime has used the “state” to its advantage and has mobilized its human resources into its campaign of terror against Syrians. It is well known that many workers in regime factories have been mobilized into the regime’s gang squads “populist phalanges” either because of the bonus and high salaries received by shabeeha or because of the utter reliance on state salaries by these workers and through coercion.  The presence of the baath party and security informants in every juncture of the Syrian state will continue to greatly frustrate efforts towards wide-scale civil action in government structure unless the power of these security agencies is first weekend significantly and unless the baath party members and security informants involved in the suppression are made to fear for their own safety if they continue the practice. In all cases,  their coercive capacity should not be underestimated and their ability to maintain the critical functions of the regime running will continue to be a problem as long as the regime has the financial means of supporting them. To that effect, we must also consider the rumors that the regime is negotiating billions of dollars worth of bonds with the Chinese and Russian governments and with the Iranian regime. It should be made loud and clear to all that all dept incurred by the regime as of March 2011 will be uncollectable in hopes that such continuing financial infusion will be stopped by rational policy makers who will eventually recognize that this regime has no viable horizon to lead a healthy Syrian recovery capable of paying such wasteful dept.

An added complexity is the tragic level of unemployment in the country, which when coupled with the deliberate destruction of ethos over forty years, will sustain the regime with a supply of willing militia, again as long as the regime is capable of providing financial means. Needless to say, the added bonus of looting and unrestrained power given to regime forces will probably reduce the regime’s financial by allowing the thugs to obtain directly from the people what they have not been receiving lately from their employer. Looting, ransom, and graft are now the primary compensation mechanism for shabeeha in areas where the regime continues to exercise some control. This is not only consistent with “Assad or we burn the country”, it is part and parcel of that policy.

In summary, the Assad regime, knowing well that national scale civil disobedience is a serious threat to its survival has opted from day one to convert the struggle into an armed warfare that could be dressed in sectarian language. It has made its fall a considerable security risk by forcing the people to take arms to defend themselves and thus create a fear of undisciplined armed insurgents trough a combination of false flag operations and media hysteria along with excessive brutality to further entice more young people into carrying arms. The results of this strategy include a preview of “Assad or we scorch the country” ideological underpinning of the regime and its supporters and the conversion of swaths of the country into ungovernable areas wastelands.

How does this play out with respect to civil disobedience? The following concept was presented in a recent off-line discussion with a journalist friend who is heavily engaged in non-violent movement in Syria: Let us consider those disaster zones where the regime has shelled the area forcing most if its people out, or where the regime has confronted both civil action and/or the presence of FSA with its standard barbaric brutality. In the end, these have become no-regime zones in the sense presented by Azmi Bishara who argued that the regime’s need to push its tanks into the streets of Syria is by no means a victory but a defeat. Areas with tanks, soldiers and regime thugs are areas where the regime is not functioning as the money and graft generating scheme it is designed to be and where the regime’s claims to equating itself with the state are shown as farcical joke. They have been turned, by regime’s action, into rebellious areas where normal life is no longer possible due to murderous snipers and raids by regime thugs. As a result, swaths of several cities have in fact turned into a situation resembling the effects of “civil disobedience” in terms of halting of productive life and making these areas increasingly ungovernable by the regime’s representatives. In essence, these areas are under control but ungovernable, which is similar to the practical result of civil disobedience, but with more distinguishing characteristic of resistance against a foreign occupation than those associated with combating a dictatorship or a repressive regime. After all, only foreign occupiers have used “scorched earth” policy on such a large scale.

The centrality of the Assad figure to the regime has caused many in the opposition to receive the Annan proposal with lukewarm suspicion if not outright rejection initially. The absence of a clause stipulating the departure of Bashar al Assad or the delegation of authority to a vice president have been the primary reason for such initial rejection. However, cooler heads are prevailing, especially after the strong language from the former Secretary General regarding the continuing violence and his ability to extract a time-table from Assad. Mohamad Al-Abdallah wrote on his FB page an outstanding short article in support of the Annan’s plan. His basic premise is that Annan is no Dabi, and the UN is not the  AL. If the plan is to be implemented, then the regime will risk major demonstrations throughout the country. If the regime falters as everyone expect the pathological liar Assad to do, then the regime would have squandered the last opportunity for political solution to the crisis, a solution that was supported by both China and Russia. The regime’s failure will put the two countries in a very awkward situation in the Security Council when it will have to decide on further action against Assad and his gangs. Pessimist argue that the regime will resort to playing the “negotiation game” and will initiate, as expected, false flag operations and explosions, particularly in areas with sectarian tension in order to justify its continuing military operations. This may have already started with an unknown group threatening a large number of explosions in Aleppo. It is also expected that the careless and callous regime will redress its army and security forces in civilian clothes giving an impression of a “loyalist” demonstrations and continuing to conduct arrest and intimidation campaign at lower intensity.

It is incumbent on all armed-resistance groups to agree to the plan and to declare a halt to all operations as of April 10.  However, it is also no wonder that shrill shills on SC are now propagating hairsplitting interpretation of what “heavy weapons mean” and whether the April 10 deadline is deadline for full withdrawal or for starting the withdrawal with open ended process. This in itself is a sign of things to come and it shows that the regime and its supporters continue to think that they can outsmart the world with their pathetic sophistry aiming to drag thing long enough for them to reestablish a pre March 2011 conditions.

The Annan plan also requires a huge effort on the civilian side of the liberation campaign. Names of all detainees and missing persons must be collected meticulously and the regime’s security apparatus must be exhausted with constant demands for their prompt release and for information on those missing. Furthermore, the anticipated negotiation must be viewed not as negotiation to end the liberation campaign, but as negotiation for the departure of the regime and its symbols and for transfer of power to a legitimate authority. Such would require mass mobilization of demonstrations, especially in Damascus. The negotiators must be very careful not to view the negotiation as a trial of the regime but primarily as a hostage negotiation with a well armed brute who has taken the entire country hostage and the primary objective is to separate the brute from his victims while at the same time maintaining bereaved parents of those who were executed by the brute thug under control so that they do not complicate the situation further. It is also important that no media frenzy against international observers be conducted by the opposition. They should be approached by the liberation movement with respect, honesty, and truth, and not with contempt and derision.

Of course, the above assumes that the regime will allow the plan implementation to reach that stage. According to the plan, negotiation is not the first step. The regime has to withdraw fully, release all political detainees and allow for demonstrations to take place unmolested. With these conditions, it is well understood why Mohammad Al-Abdallah wrote: “this is a very good plan, and the worst thing about it is that it will not be implemented”. How can it be when “Assad or we scorch the country” is the operative slogan of the regime and its supporters. In the end, if they try to keep this more fundamental and the only promise they seem intent on fulfilling, one would hope that the world, including the regime’s friends will take other actions.

Yassin Haj Salih, in a recent article wrote about the “Assad or we scorch the country“: “in reality presents two choices of destruction of Syria. The first is the destruction of the country through living under Assad with no dignity, freedom, and opportunity, and the latter is the physical destruction of the country. In both cases, they are choices of destruction. Regime shills should take note of what they are defending before they shout that the revolution is destroying the country. This is a revolution and a liberation movement to build a country and to take it back from those who shamelessly proclaim their intent to burn it.

Posted on April 6, 2012, in Bashar Al-Assad, Crimes Against Humanity, Syria and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 447 Comments.

  1. Happy Mother’s Day!

    But still, he cannot get one mother out of his head.

    “She was telling me how the government forces had detained her son and how she had tried to be nice and quiet and cooperative, hoping they would release him,” Solvang said. “But as soon as the soldiers left, they told her, ‘You have to forget your son.’ ”

    Three days later, the woman found her son’s body, riddled with signs of torture, in a village cemetery.

    “The courage she had despite (what she went through) and the way she described how she found his body afterward, that made quite a great impact on me,” he said.

    Solvang says another mother suffered similarly.

    What’s it like investigating Assad’s atrocities from inside Syria? Ole Solvang describes his experience. http://trib.al/XCJrJo

  2. this is off-topic so you can delete my comment if you wish

    from this link http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/nabila-ramdani-franois-hollande-will-strike-fear-into-the-hearts-of-the-rich-7718666.html

    The 57-year-old Socialist has openly admitted that he “does not like the rich” and declared that “my real enemy is the world of finance”. This means taxing the wealthy by up to 75 per cent, curtailing the activities of Paris as a centre for financial dealing, and ploughing millions into creating more civil service jobs.

    Mr Hollande’s commitment to equality is evident in his promise to introduce parity between men and women in his cabinet, and create a ministry of women’s rights. Efforts will also be made to promote equal pay between the sexes. He will bring under-represented minorities into government, and work to make the Republic more egalitarian.

    Faulty egalitarian premises, hatred of the rich etc..Nothing revolutionary here unless one recalls the socialist revolutions throughout history that were motivated by the same ideas and that committed mass slaughter to achieve their goals. Of course to legitimize their bankruptcy they will have some feel-good stuff about minorities in the mix. You have to be intellectually crippled to call this “change”

    Empty minds, empty revolutions

  3. “This means taxing the wealthy by up to 75 per cent,” says the article. Short of truth.

    @Khalid : The 75% apply to what the rich make annually over one million; that should leave them enough to face the grocery bills.
    “François Hollande a annoncé lundi 27 février sur TF1 la création d’un taux d’imposition de 75% pour les revenus “au-dessus d’un million d’euros par an”.” For a full explanation see here : http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/election-presidentielle-2012/20120228.OBS2489/impots-la-tranche-supplementaire-a-75-de-hollande-en-4-questions.html

    I see no reason to hate the rich per se but we dislike some of things they are doing.

    Where is OTW ?

  4. “The most beautiful word on the lips of mankind is the word “Mother,” and the most beautiful call is the call of “My mother.” It is a word full of hope and love, a sweet and kind word coming from the depths of the heart. The mother is everything – she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness … Everything in nature bespeaks the mother. The sun is the mother of earth and gives it its nourishment of heart; it never leaves the universe at night until it has put the earth to sleep to the song of the sea and the hymn of birds and brooks. And this earth is the mother of trees and flowers. It produces them, nurses them, and weans them. The trees and flowers become kind mothers of their great fruits and seeds. And the mother, the prototype of all existence, is the eternal spirit, full of beauty and love.”

    Kahlil Gibran

  5. Today’s demo in Brussels

    or

    and if you understand French get the whole day here :
    http://anniebannie.net/2012/05/13/clips-de-la-manif-daujourdhui/

  6. We Syrian are at a crossroad. Syrians have proved after 14 months that they do not think in sectarian terms.

    But make no mistake, the bad and the ugly are working slowly but surely.

    Reuters today:

    “Syrian troops … overran a rebellious Sunni Muslim village west of the city of Hama”

    Just read how Reuters chose to word its news. The west is eager to turn the legitimate struggle against dictatorship into a sectarian struggle. For some it was clear.

    The gulf countries are part and parcel in this dirty game, as evil as Assad and his regime. Syrians who are hymning either the first or the latter are spreading the fire.

    The likes of Narwine Sharmini are plenty, to stir the Syrian agenda in certain direction, sectarian one. There are many like her. They are not in the resistance camp, nor pro Palestinians, they are the stirrer of hell on earth.

    Those thousands of noble men did not want to die, they were murdered for wanting dignity and social justice for all Syrians.

    Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain….are autocratic ruling government, they know they are next in line..perhaps that is why it is in the interest of all greedy nations to elongate our struggle for freedom.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/13/us-syria-killings-idUSBRE84C04E20120513

  7. Where is the world conscious, where? Where is the civility that many first world nations pretend to possess.

    Anderson Cooper: “We can’t say we don’t know what is happening inside Syria. People have died to show us the videos. We can’t say we didn’t know.”

  8. Is there any sane person still debating, whether the Assad regime has committed “crimes against humanity” or not? If so, please check yourself into the nearest asylum.

    Syrian troops targeting medical workers and patients, says Doctors Without Borders. In fact, doctors and patients were targeted by the regime, from the beginning of the peaceful uprising, “Being caught with patients is like being caught with a weapon” said an orthopedic surgeon whom MSF met in a village in Idlib. “The atmosphere in most medical facilities is extremely tense; health care workers send wounded patients home and provide only first aid so that facilities can be evacuated quickly in the event of a military operation.”

    http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=6012&cat=press-release&t=2

  9. The Syrian Red Cresent stops its activity in Homs due to arrests of its members by the political security agencies.

    (The Assadist thugs are arresting SRC vounteers amid continued shooting at the SRC’s operations and denying them access to take in aid to stricken areas of Homs.)

    لهلال الأحمر يعلن وقف نشاطه في حمص بسبب إعتقال الامن السياسي لافراد منه

    نشر فى: أخبار محلية

    اعلنت منظمة الهلال الأحمر في حمص انها ستعلق جميع نشاطاتها في المدينة احتجاجا على اعتقال اثنين من أفرادها وهم : المتطوع احمد عطفة والمتطوع جهاد حاكمي .

    وقد أعلنت المنظمة رسميا اليوم ايقاف جميع نشاطاتها بسبب هذا العمل الشنيع , واكد متطوعين في الهلال الأحمر لزمان الوصل أن المعتقلين متواجدين في فرع الأمن السياسي بحمص وطالبوا جميع المنظمات الدولية بالتدخل الفوري .

    واكد أفراد في الهلال تعرضهم اليومي لاطلاق النار من قبل شبيحة النظام وامنه وعدم السماح لهم بالدخول لنقل المواد الاغاثية للمناطق المنكوبة كالخالدية وبابا عمر والبياضة والحميدية .

    وكشف سكان من حمص إصابة متطوعين من الهلال اليوم خلال إخلاء مجموعة من النساء والأطفال من منطقة القصور في حمص وذلك بالتزامن مع زيارة وفد مراقبي الامم المتحدة للمنطقة.

    يذكر ان عدة شهداء سقطوا في حمص من افراد ومتطوعي منظمة الهلال الأحمر .

    زمان الوصل

  10. MGB,

    You said “The Assadist thugs are arresting SRC”, you mean shabihat alassad?
    I just finished watching Faisal Kasim’s Opposite Direction, you have a prototype shabeeh, missed his name.

    I urge every “forever” to watch the episode. If, that is a big “IF” they want to understand how the opposition perceive them. And I mean it in a good way. These people are making fool of themselves, they are acting as clowns, clamouring for a mass murderer.

    Assad’ regime will kill more as long as we have the likes of, what I call a typical Shabeeh attitude.

    الاتجاه المعاكس – النظام السوري و الإصلاح – (كاملة) ‎http://fb.me/1CyhrDJji‏

  11. Where is OTW ? I worry. And Aboud ?

  12. Hi N.Z.

    Yes, I did watch part of that program just a couple of hours ago, and to tell you the truth there is no point in watching such people shout and scream and fill the air with lies and obscenities, except maybe to show the world the type of people that defend criminal regimes like the AsMAA and also prove the futility of conducting a “dialogue” with them.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen behold this creature, a fine specimen of the genus homo sapiens shabbih.”

    BTW, I have often fantasized about what I would do if I were Faisal al-Qasem: I would have two soundproof glass booths built where each debater is locked in and their mic is cut off after their allotted speaking time is up or when they interject while their opponent is speaking. Would even go so far as have a trap door underneath each booth so they can be “flushed down” (preferably into the buiding’s basement rubbish bin) when they become too obnoxious or belligerent.

    Good night.

  13. anniebannie

    No need to be fluent in Arabic to see who is with the houkouma and they all speak like that. Spot a dictator or his friends it’s easy.

  14. MGB,

    Yes, lot of screaming in general on the Opposite Direction!

    However, this particular episode epitomize a “shabeeh”.

    As humans, we are herds. We tend to follow with out thinking. What struck me is the language the Shabeeh uses in talking to others, and the utter respect he has for his forever. We can say the same apply to the activists, we are herds as well. I totally disagree. We do have our disagreement with the SNC, it is not either or. Criticism when and if the FSA acted in the same manner as the autocratic despotic regime. Torture or humiliating the other, not acceptable. We voice our disagreement, we criticize, we are stuck with one. Our goal is to rebuild together our homeland, a homeland that is inclusive of all Syrians, not exclusive to one family that is infallible in the hearts and minds of some. I feel sorry for his like, they can no longer think, they are robots.

    In short, they have disrespect for every Syrian and non Syrian who sees outside “forever”.

    He even threatened the other guest towards the end, typical of all those who see through the prism of their “forever”. They think that he cares about their loyalty, when he really care neither about the people nor the country.

    Anniebannie, does not speak fluent Arabic? yet, she can tell from the body language. It saddens me to see anyone whose allegiance is to one person, a cult psych.

    We all have to come out of this mind set, we have no choice but to help one another. Sad, the road ahead is very long…but then, who thought it will be easy, it is just the beginning….a first step in the right direction.

  15. The most re-tweeted message on Syria is Anderson Cooper’s. Since May 14th. He is a first class humanist.

    ‏@andersoncooper

    We can’t say we don’t know what is happening inside #Syria. People have died to show us the videos. We can’t say we didn’t know. @AC360

  16. Diary
    Layla Al-Zubaidi

    You are invited to read this free diary from the London Review of Books. Register for free and enjoy 24 hours of access to the entire LRB archive of over 12,500 essays and reviews.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n10/layla-al-zubaidi/diary

    ‘Welcome to Assad’s Syria,’ the signpost at the Lebanese-Syrian border still says, letting the visitor know who owns the country. The ceasefire had just been announced, but few Syrians I knew held out much hope that three hundred UN observers could keep an eye on the whole army. The journey from Beirut to Damascus by shared taxi takes less than three hours. For years I’ve come this way to visit the Syrian side of my family. It was clear that things had changed. Political talk among the passengers used to be limited to hushed complaints about the border police. The taxi drivers would stick a packet of Marlboros and a banknote into the pocket of the customs officers to speed things up. Occasionally they’d mumble an Arab proverb: ‘If you want the grapes, don’t upset the gardener.’

    Once across the border, you used to hold your tongue, especially around people you didn’t know – ‘dictatorship mode’. This time a passenger joked loudly that Tefal was now making chairs for Arab presidents, to stop their arses from getting stuck. Both sides of the highway bristled with banners showing Bashar al-Assad waving to a sea of followers or raising his hands, under slogans like ‘We Say Yes to Syria.’

    ‘How could anyone be stupid enough to think he’d just leave like Ben-Ali or Mubarak?’ the driver asked, waving his hand dismissively. ‘The Assads’ arses are stuck to their chairs with superglue.’

    When protesters began playing around with the family name, they were striking at the symbolic pillars of ‘Assad’s Syria’. Al-Assad – ‘the lion’ in Arabic – served as a symbol of strength for four decades, and monuments to father and son were surrounded with stone statues of lions. Not long after the Guardian published leaked emails in which Hadeel al-Ali, Bashar’s media consultant, affectionately wrote ‘I missed you, batta,’ to her boss, fly-posters began to appear featuring his new nickname (batta = ‘duck’). A photo of a school blackboard with a question scrawled on it circulated online: ‘Has Darwin’s theory of evolution been reversed? See the magical transformation of Bashar-the-Lion to Bashar-the-Scaredy-Cat to Bashar-the-Duck.’ A picture uploaded alongside it showed a yellow plastic duck with an innocent plastic smile and a sign round its neck that read: ‘But Bashar doesn’t represent me either!’

    In a hit YouTube show called Top Goon, wooden puppets act out the parts of Bashar and his father. The director relocated his operation to Lebanon after a march last July led to the detention of many of his friends. In August, the political cartoonist Ali Farzat was kidnapped and dumped by a roadside, his hand broken, after he published a cartoon depicting Bashar hitching a ride out of town. Dissent is met with brute force, no matter what form it takes, and masks and puppets are a reasonable precaution. In the final episode of Top Goon the puppeteers show (part of) their faces. His eyes just visible behind a Syrian flag, one of them pops up from behind the stage to tell the Bashar puppet his time is up. Bashar won’t go down easily: ‘I’m president of this republic! I’ll annihilate you! Infiltrator! Scum! Al-Qaida!’ The puppeteer isn’t bothered. ‘Do you know,’ he says, ‘I can make you do whatever I want. I can make you dance.’ He makes the president do a few pirouettes. Then he unscrews his head.

    In downtown Damascus I passed the usual bustling alleys filled with shops and cafés, busy as ever. The window of a loyalist restaurant displayed a cartoon. A big devil, carrying a hat emblazoned with the UN flag, was blowing a horn labelled SECTARIAN SCHISM. Little devils sliced chunks out of a map of Syria, their knives marked with the corporate logos of al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya and the BBC.

    I got into a cab. When the driver asked why I’d come to Syria I said I was writing about Syrian culture – I was careful not to say ‘revolutionary’ culture. He gave me a look in the mirror that seemed to say he thought I’d come from outer space. I asked him to drop me off by the central bank, where a huge portrait of Bashar, eyes tinted ice-blue, covered the monumental façade.

    ‘You want culture?’ the driver asked and pointed at a stage being set up in the square in front of the bank, in preparation for a visit by Kofi Annan’s international observers. Giggling teenagers in scout uniform were taking up position. Kiosks were draped with Syrian flags and posters of the ruling family surrounded the stage. ‘That’s our culture. Setting up a theatre to show the world that millions support our president.’

    I went to the Firdous Hotel, once a run-down establishment that hosted a poets’ group in its shabby cellar. A fancy refurbishment had been completed just before the uprising began but the lobby café was empty. No tourists. There, I met Hassan Abbas, a writer who knows everyone. Over the past decade he’s had articles censored, a cinema club closed down, a programme of debates banned. Now he thinks things may be looking up. He believes that what the regime most fears is a Tahrir Square, the idea of a public forum, an agora. ‘The Arab revolutions,’ he said, ‘were about men and women reclaiming public space in the heart of their capital cities.’ But what was possible in Cairo was met here with lethal repression. Last year, after hundreds of protesters were shot in the main square in Homs, the site of the city’s clock tower, protesters inside and outside Syria, even as far away as Canada, carried with them a wooden replica of the clock tower, a symbol of the space they intended to reclaim. The authorities claimed the suspiciously similar footage proved that all the demonstrations were being staged at al-Jazeera’s studios in Qatar. In response, protesters in Homs set up a huge traffic sign pointing the way to Doha.
    University of Chicago Press

    The Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amro became known to the world as one of the movement’s strongholds when Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik were killed alongside hundreds of Syrians in the course of a bombardment that lasted 28 days. The ‘Homsi’ used to be the butt of Syrian jokes: now people look up to them for their irrepressibly inventive responses to their situation. When gas and heating oil started to get scarce in December, protesters in the equally rebellious neighbourhood of Khalidiya held a celebration. They set a gas bottle and an oil can on stools, one dressed in a wedding gown, the other in jacket and tie, and gave them a traditional wedding procession, along with singing and dancing. ‘Millions of Syrians chanting the same song,’ Abbas said. ‘That is our public forum.’

    Since the uprising began, every village has come up with its own dabke, a traditional dance in which the dancers, their hands locked together, move in a circle and stamp their feet to the beat of a drum. Every funeral is turned into a protest procession. Among the most common funeral chants is a song written by Ibrahim Qashoush, a singer from Hama, called ‘Yallah irhal ya Bashar!’ (‘Get out, Bashar!’). When Qashoush was found last summer with his throat slit and vocal cords ripped out, the song became the movement’s soundtrack. It even made its way to Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, where crowds sang it on the anniversary of their own revolution. It became such a phenomenon that the authorities pirated it. Schoolchildren were given it to sing, but with the lyrics altered: ‘Nahna rijalak ya Bashar!’ (‘We are your people, Bashar!’). Abbas said it was because they are afraid of the song: ‘They use it like a voodoo puppet. They think that if they appropriate the symbols of the revolution, they can tame its spell.’

    In what Syrians call the ‘symbol war’ the regime and its paramilitary enforcers, the Shabiha, have begun to strike back. On 18 March, a group calling itself the Tartous Boys uploaded a song onto YouTube called ‘Fuck Freedom’. It attacks the radical Sunni cleric Adnan al-Arour, in exile in Saudi Arabia, who uses satellite channels to incite against the Alawites. To the sound of a gently strumming guitar, the lyrics run: ‘Terrorists, put your guns away. We swear by God to clip your wings and turn your joy to woe. Listen to this song. We are adherents of the Lion, heads held high, stamping on freedom. Al-Arour, we will tear you to pieces with our own hands, you beast, you wild dog … Fuck freedom!’ I watched it with some activists who had gathered in a neon-lit flat on the outskirts of Damascus to avoid eavesdroppers. ‘What do they think this is?’ one of them asked. ‘Syria’s Got Talent?’

    The activists put me in touch with Freedom Days, a group that carries out satirical acts of disobedience to break the power of official propaganda. They rose to fame in September for dyeing the Barada river red, turning Damascus’s only waterway into a symbolic river of blood. They did the same with fountains across the city. In Sabaa Bahrat Square, it took thirty workmen with eight water tanks an hour to wash all the dye out of the fountain. Bystanders laughed as police ordered the workers to chant: ‘Allah, Bashar and Syria! This is the blood of our martyred soldiers!’ The group has hidden sound systems in ministries and municipal buildings to play Ibrahim Qashoush’s anthem. At the Ministry of Finance they installed the speaker behind a statue of Hafez al-Assad, causing security officers to scuttle round frantically to find the source of the disturbance. During a demonstration in Homs, they suspended a wooden figure of Bashar from a rope strung over a bridge. When snipers opened fire on the protesters below, they found that they’d also peppered the president with bullets. But the best thing they did was to point a red laser beam, from several kilometres away, at the futuristic presidential palace on a hill overlooking Damascus. ‘It was massive,’ someone reminisced. ‘People thought a nuclear attack was underway.’

    ‘We’ve been brainwashed for years,’ one of the activists said. ‘It isn’t only the regime that’s oppressive. The regime has become part of all of us.’ Satire is important for ‘mental detoxification’, because it isn’t always clear what’s real and what isn’t. A video recently uploaded to YouTube is a case in point. Disguised as a particularly crude piece of state propaganda, it carries the logo of the regime’s mouthpiece, Dunya TV. The presenter explains that an al-Jazeera broadcast of a football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid is ‘in reality’ a coded description of an arms deal. The game morphs, becoming a map of Syria that reveals weapons being smuggled to locations across the country with every pass of the ball. The video got thousands of comments. Anti-regime viewers called it a typical piece of Dunya TV propaganda; regime supporters called it a scoop. A few days later another piece of ‘Dunya TV reportage’ was uploaded, in which Lionel Messi, in Arabic voiceover, shamefacedly admits to having accepted a pair of sneakers and a pile of cash from al-Jazeera for taking part in the ‘conspiracy’. His head lowered, Messi says: ‘If I had been aware of the sharp investigative skills of Dunya TV’s journalists, I would never have given in to temptation. I hereby announce my withdrawal from terrorist activity.’
    University of Chicago Press

    Among the most famous sloganeers of the uprising have been the inhabitants of Kfar Nibil, a previously unremarked village in northern Syria. A doctor and sign-painter teamed up to provide a running commentary on the news. Their cartoons were circulated all over the web and on Facebook, and on 12 February security forces invaded the village. They arrested every male between the ages of fifteen and sixty; the doctor and sign-painter were killed in a raid. But Kfar Nibil continues to send out its messages. A new one shows a sign reading: ‘The cities are withdrawing from the areas of the army.’ Beside it is a drawing of a man with a pushcart, displacing a whole city, with its people, streets, houses, mosques and churches.

  17. The Japanese Govt. has informed the UN that it would not be sending any of its citizens to participate in the current UN observer mission. “The situation on the ground is not a PKO mission”.

  18. anniebannie

    Crowd gathers around army truck to impede arrest of Syrian activist from AlZaharaa Hospital

  19. test II

  20. Remember Qaddafi, when he yelled addressing Libyans? He asked them, “who are you, eh eh” (meen antum eh eh). The one in Syria is a rabbit when it comes to addressing the Nation, a slaughterer when it comes to dealing with dissenters, a coward when faced with protests.

    Where is the half man of Syria?

    Still giving a silly interview here and a sillier interview there.

    Syrian men are considered traitors when talking to foreign media, what does the half man consider himself when he talks with foreign media.

    Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn of the death sentence passed today on the citizen journalist Mohammed Abdelmawla al-Hariri for “high treason and contacts with foreign parties”. He was arrested on 16 April just after giving an interview to the television station Al-Jazeera about the situation in his hometown of Deraa.

    “The government of Bashar al-Assad has thus shown the extent of its brutality and cruelty. Reporters Without Borders calls for this contemptible verdict to be overturned and for this citizen journalist to be released immediately.”

    Mr. Hariri was subjected to horrific torture after his arrest, to the point of being partially paralysed. After the verdict was pronounced, he was transferred to Saidnaya military prison north of Damascus.

  21. Transcript of the press encounter with Head of UNSMIS Major
    General Robert Mood. http://trib.al/mwPWZd

    He talks about the “Mission” on the ground, how many more monitors are arriving, yet, the observer mission chief mentions nothing about the release of detained protesters!

  22. Aleppo Joins the Syrian Revolution: Are al-Assad’s Days Numbered?

    The largest demonstrations held in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, since the beginning over a year ago of the revolutionary movement in that country, were held on Friday. In part, they were provoked by the brutality of regime troops toward student protesters at the university in Aleppo on Thursday.

  23. A detailed account of what have transpired in Aleppo.

    The participants in the carnival-protest were of all colors of Syrian society. Arabs and Kurds, Muslims and Christians, women with veils and women in casual dress and yet women with fancy coats, people from all cities and all shapes, they were all there. We chanted, “One, one, one. The Syrian people are one.” We chanted for unity and against sectarianism.

    The protesters said they wanted to pray thanks to God. I looked to my friend (a Christian) and asked, “What do we now? Do we do the Sign of the Cross?” A veiled student overheard me and laughed. I asked her, “Well, what do we do?” She told me that we should kneel and they will do the Sign instead. She drew a cross on my face, she didn’t do it right, but I will never forget that spark I saw in her eyes. And we continued chanting.

    Today was truly a carnival, the best I’ve ever been to. I wish there was a helicopter overhead filming that massive crowd. I did not hear a single curse from the protesters. I did not see any objectionable action. No one even bothered with that billion-man loyalist protest of no more than 20 people who crossed our path. Know that if we wanted to take them, we could’ve. They would’ve just been stampeded. But everyone ignored them, even when they pelted us with rocks. I mention this only so that you know what Bashar’s supporters are like.

    We were all one. Some people bought water and distributed it to the crowd. We needed it because we really did shout until our throats were dry.

    I ran into into many of my friends at the protest by chance. I even ran into a person I met from Daraa today just before the protest. I didn’t know where he stood. When I saw him again at the protest we hugged and kissed like we were old friends. We were all hugging and kissing. It felt like the regime had collapsed. People were taking photos of themselves, realizing that today we made history.

    I was overjoyed. The protest was peaceful and dignified even by the staunchest standards. I will never forget the ecstasy I experienced at the carnival today, especially that they named “Heroes of Aleppo University Friday” as a tribute to us.

    I am a proud student at Aleppo University.

    http://www.ayyam.org/english/?p=435

  24. When will they realize that they are finished?

    How many more hearts will they burn before they realize they are toast?

    How many more will they maim before they face either their creator or their prosecutors?

    The noble blood of thousands of Syrians will not be forgotten. The future generations will write in their history books, how their ancestors defeated the Beast family. A family that was adamant to destroy the Syrian identity. They pillaged our country like foreigners, they pillaged the old, the new, they covet the wealth of others, neighbours and locals alike. They ruled with an iron fist.

    Alas…

  25. A coup d’etat?

  26. anniebannie

    A number of leaders from the Al-Sahabeh Battalion confirmed, in a telephone interview with the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, the validity of the news about an operation that targeted the regime’s crisis management cell during its meeting at the Conference Palace. The Battalion indicated that additional details would be forthcoming, and could be broadcast live by Commander Khaled Al-Habous. The LCC has not confirmed this news with any other source.
    لجان التنسيق المحلية في سوريا لم تعد كلمة المجازر تكفي للحديث عما يحدث في سوريا ما شاهده العالم من ذبح لأطفال ونساء على يد مرتزقة النظام من الشبيحة يكاد يخرجنا عن ادميتنا ,ويثبت مرة اخرى مدى امعان النظام في اجرامه ان لجان التنسيق المحلية في سوريا تحمل النظام السوري المسؤولية عن كل الفظائع التي ارتكبت وترتكب في كل لحظة على الاراضي السورية والشعب الثائر في سوريا , وتدعو المنضوين تحت امرة الجيش السوري من جنود وصف ضباط وضباط الى الانحياز الى الشعب بالتحاقهم الفوري بالجيش الحر . كما تدعو الى تكثيف المظاهرات على كل الاراضي السورية واعتبار يوم غد الثلاثاء 13/03/2012 هو يوم حداد رسمي في كل انحاء سوريا عبر اغلاق المحال التجارية والامتناع عن الذهاب الى العمل والمدارس والجامعات وإغلاق الطرقات وندعو الجميع للمشاركة ولو بشكل رمزي عبر دلالة اللون الاسود من شرائط وأعلام او حتى ملابس . كما تدعوا بالتوازي المجلس الوطني السوري إلى التوجه فورا الى مجلس الامن بطلب المساعدة وبكل الوسائل المتاحة لوقف هذه المجازر وعدم الاكتفاء بالبيانات. عاشت سوريا حرة والمجد للشهداء .
    source fb :

  27. Good mornning Annie,

    Something took place yesterday, something big. When the godfather died the public where not informed, total secrecy. Now they are demanding an apology from al-Jazeera for airing such delicious rumours.

    Damascus is not business as usual.

  28. anniebannie

    N.Z. Difficult to know. I heard the voice of one wazir but did not see him. Another I saw. Don’t ask me for names. May be they had food poisoning (bad oysters).

  29. Where is OTW? I hope he is OK and just busy. We probably could use a part II (second page) to this post as this one is becoming rather heavy and unwieldy, data wise.

    Another explosion in an anti regime suburb; they’re going to be a regular occurrence now, I’m afraid.
    I have just had a chance to talk with some family members who have escaped Syria and hear their first-hand experiences in Homs, Reef Homs and reef Dimashq…horrific stories and scenes. On top of the horrors that people have had to go through in the bombarded areas, they cannot even receive help from fellow countrymen in other towns: in Deir-e-zzor regime forces are threatening people with violence and arrest if they do so much as give shelter to refugees (families or individuals) who are from the resistance neighborhoods in Homs. The remorseless criminals are determined to make the people suffer even after having destroyed their homes.

    Any and every crime and travesty of human rights imaginable has been committed in Syria. So in one way the Assadist gangesters have succeeded in dividing the nation in the hearts and minds of the citizens for it will be near impossible for millions of Syrians to forgive what has been inflicted on them and the majority will not rest until everyone who partook in the orgy of violence faces some form of justice. Reconcilliation, when and if it comes, is going to take decades, I am sorry to say.

  30. Anyone who talks in sectarian terms is a culprit if not a criminal.

    Less than a decade ago, Sunni and Shiite, Alawite and Druze, as labels, were not heard of in public discussion. Today, you hear, mainly westerner, who less than a decade ago, did not know what these sectarian words meant, now they will say: oh! he or she is an Iraqi Shiite from Bosra. Is it not disgusting? And like always, we follow suit!

    I should add, in Lebanon it is the norm, more so after 2006 than before. They will ask you questions, if your name is not telling, your last name, where do you live, who are your friends… it is almost like an obsession.

    We should refrain from using such labels, but more so, we should stop anyone using these terms on the spot. Unfortunately, these terms are used amongst the educated and privileged, it is this group of people whom the responsibility lies on their shoulder. If each one of us prevented such rhetorics from taking place we will for sure avoid a big hurdle, a man made disaster from growing into a blunder.

    In sensitive times, such discussions are not only futile but can turn deadly.

  31. Rumors have it that Shawkat is dead. See Twitter.
    I too do worry about OTW. It is not like him to desert this place for so long. Last sign on May 6.

  32. Son of Damascus

    MGB,

    I hope so as well, it has been awhile since Walls has been around getting rather worried about him, hopefully it is some mundane or self imposed absence and nothing serious.

    Loading 7ee6an these days kind of makes my Comp go into all kinds of convulsions, I think it has to do with all embedded videos.

    Annie,

    The story of Asef’s demise just does not want to go away, it seems the rumour might have some teeth after all, this was pulled from 3alawi Youth Facebook page (they are based in Tartous):

    قرية المدحلة في طرطوس اليوم ترفع أعلام سوداء حداد على روح الفاطس القذر آصف شوكت…والدفن غدا ..

    Roughly translates to (without the heavy language):

    “The town of Mad7aleh in Tartous is raising the black flags on the soul of Asef Shouwkat, and he will be buried tomorrow (today since the post was put yesterday)”

    https://www.facebook.com/3alawi.Youth/posts/459155320777414

    Don’t know the veracity or authenticity of the rumour, but one thing I do know is that Shami Hospital has been under heavy security precense since the news of the poisoning broke last week.

  33. Anniebannie,

    After all it might be true, that we have one less criminal in Damascus. I am hoping Jurgen
    can confirm. This is a translation from Der Spiegel

    طباخٌ يقوم بتسميم صهر بشار الأسد
    Posted on 23 مايو 2012 by المترجمون السوريون الأحرار

    نجحت المعارضة السورية في تنفيذ هجوم على دائرة الحكم الضيقة. قُتل في هذا الهجوم عدة أشخاص من بينهم آصف شوكت رئيس جهاز الاستخبارات و صهر الرئيس الأسد.

    من ديترش ألكسندر

    نجحت المعارضة على مايبدو في شن هجوم من العيار الثقيل ضد دائرة الحكم الضيقة حول الرئيس بشار الأسد. وفقاً لمعلومات صحيفة “ فيلت أونلاين” فقد تم تسميم عدة أشخاص من “خلية الأزمة” التابعة للرئيس ومن بينهم آصف شوكت رئيس الأركان ورئيس جهاز الاستخبارات.

    كان شوكت زوجاً لبشرى شقيقة الرئيس ذات الاثنين وخمسين عاماً، المرأة القوية في عائلة الأسد. يُعد اللواء في الجيش السوري منذ نهاية السبعينات، بقسوته وتأثيره الكبير على الرئيس، الحاكم الفعلي لسوريا. كان الرجل ذو الاثنين وستين عاماً العقلَ المدبر خلف اغتيال رئيس الوزراء اللبناني الأسبق رفيق الحريري في عام 2005. قامت الولايات المتحدة بتجميد أرصدة آصف شوكت بدعوى اشتراكه في تقديم دعم مباشر للإرهاب في العراق ولبنان والأراضي الفلسطينية.

    أُصيب في بطنه بعد جدال

    كان شوكت مثيراً للجدل دائماً، حتى ضمن عائلته. قام باسل الأسد، الذي كان يُنظر إليه حتى موته في حادث عام 1994 على أنه خليفة لوالده، بسجن عشيق شقيقته أربع مرات. لكن هذا لم يغير في الأمر شيئاً، فقد كان الحب أقوى من كل ذلك و بهذا سُمح لآصف شوكت بالدخول لعائلة الأسد عن طريق الزواج في العام 1995. ولكن هذا لم يؤد إلى توافق داخلي في العائلة, حيث قام ماهر الأسد أصغر فرد في عائلة مؤسس السلالة حافظ الأسد، بعمر أربع و أربعين سنة، وهو شقيق الرئيس والمعروف بوحشيته الكبيرة ومزاجه العصبي بإطلاق النار على صهره من مسدس صغير في البطن بعد جدال في القصر الرئاسي. كان هذا في العام 1999، وقد نجحت النخبة الحاكمة وقتها بإخفاء كل شيء وقامت بإرسال شوكت للعلاج في فرنسا. لكن المشهد العائلي القبيح فُضح لاحقاً وأدى ذلك إلى معاناة الأسد الأب، الذي كان يعاني أصلاً من أمراض السرطان القاتلة.

    و لكن قبل أن يموت في عام 2000، قام بتعيين شوكت في دائرة الحكم الضيقة، التي لم يغادرها منذ ذلك الوقت. حذر ماهر شقيقه بشار دائماً من أن يثق بصهره. ولكن بشار تجاهل شقيقه الأصغر ماهر وجعل من شوكت أقوى رجل أمن لديه – ربما عن قصد ليكون قطباً مقابلاً لشقيقه سريع الغضب.

    موته سيكون خسارة كبيرة للأسد
    موت شوكت المفترض سيعني خسارة كبيرة للأسد. الأمر نفسه ينطبق على رئيس جهاز الأمن القومي هشام بختيار، وزير الدفاع داوود راجحة إضافة إلى محمد سعيد بخيتان القيادي الكبير في حزب البعث الحاكم، وجميعهم كانوا على ما يبدو ضحايا الهجوم بالسم.

    أكد صادق الموصلي، ممثل المجلس الوطني السوري المعارض هذه المعلومات: “تمكن نشطاء المعارضة في عملية طويلة من تجنيد طباخ في الحلقة الأمنية الضيقة، قام بخلط سم في الطعام، مات أربعة أشخاص، ومازال اثنان ينازعان الموت.

    يمكنني القول بكل تأكيد أن شوكت كان من بين الموتى. “ بعد فترة قصيرة من الهجوم أقلعت طائرة عسكرية من مطار المزة العسكري في دمشق. غالباً حتى يتم إخراج جثة شوكت من المدينة، وفقاً لما قاله الموصلي. ”

    أكد عبد الحليم خدام، نائب الرئيس السوري من عام 1984 وحتى عام 2005 و المقيم حالياً في المنفى، موت شوكت.

    “البطل” موجود بمكان آمن خارج البلاد

    يقول نشطاء المعارضة أنه تم التجسس على خلية الأسد الأمنيّة ومراقبتها لمدة شهرين. ومن بعد ذلك تم ضربها، حيث أعلن الجيش السوري الحر مسؤوليته عن تنفيذ عملية التسمسم هذه. وبحسب المعارضة، فإن “كتيبة الصحابة” هاجمت خلية النظام لإدارة الأزمة في أحد اجتماعاتها في قصر المؤتمرات.

    صرّح العقيد خالد الحبوس عبر فيديو بُثّ عبر الانترنت بالتفاصيل التالية: “نفذت سرية المهام الخاصة عملية عسكرية سرّيّة، حيث قامت بمراقبة والتجسس على أعضاء ما يسمّى خلية إدارة الأزمة لمدة شهرين.

    بعدها قام بطل من هذه السريّة بتنفيذ العملية حيث دسّ السم لهم.” ويتواجد هذا “البطل” بحسب أقوال الموصلي خارج سوريا في مكان آمن.

    شاحب، عصبي ومريض

    وصفت وسائل الإعلام السورية الرسمية على الفور مزاعم المعارضة “بغير ذات الصلة بالواقع”. أمّا وزير الداخلية، محمد الشعار، الذي طالته عملية التسميم، فقد فنّد ما قاله الثوّار في مؤتمر صحفي عُقد على عجل، بدا فيه شاحباً، عصبيّاً ومريضاً – ما أعطى الثوّار إشارة واضحة بأنه تناول السم أيضاً، لكن بجرعة منخفضة.

    هاتفيّاً تكلّم حسن تركماني، معاون نائب الرئيس وعضو خليّة الأزمة، عن “أكاذيب مكشوفة”. على النقيض من ذلك لم يسمع أو يرَ أحدٌ شيئاً عن شوكت أو وزيرالدفاع راجحة، ما عدّه الثوّار إثباتاً لنجاح عمليتهم.

    كان الرئيس الأب والدكتاتور حافظ الأسد قبل وفاته قد أوصى آصف شوكت بابنه بشار المتخصص في طب العيون “ألا يتركه نهائياً”. إن صحّ ما يقال، فإنه لم يفِ بما طُلب منه – ولو كان ذلك بغير رضاه.

    المصدر

    Koch soll Schwager Baschar al-Assads vergiftet haben

  34. Palestinian writer held 3 weeks in Syria describes detention facilities as “human slaughterhouses.” http://trib.al/z0dXIg

    Salameh Kaileh, 56, was arrested April 24 on suspicion of printing leaflets calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is fighting a 15-month-old uprising against his rule. Kaileh’s story offers a rare inside glimpse into the conditions faced by detainees held by the country’s feared security services.

    “It was hell on earth,” Kaileh told The Associated Press on Sunday, nearly a week after Syrian forces released him and deported him to Jordan. Speaking at his friend’s home in an Amman suburb, Kaileh had bluish-red bruises on his legs, which he said were the result of beatings with wooden batons that were studded with pins and nails.

    “I felt I was going to die under the brutal, savage and continuous beating of the interrogators, who tied me to ropes hung from the ceiling,” said Kaileh, a soft-spoken man with a shock of white hair who appeared frail, barely able to stand on his feet.

    Born in Birzeit, West Bank, Kaileh has suffered under the regime in Damascus before. He was imprisoned by the Syrian government in 1992 for eight years because of his alleged links to underground Syrian communist and leftist opposition groups. A well-known leftist, he has written books on subjects ranging from Marxism to Arab nationalism.

    This time, he was held in at least four detention centers after security forces arrested him at his home in Damascus, the Syrian capital where he’s lived for more than 30 years.

    Kaileh denied printing the leaflets, which he said angered the regime because they read: “For Palestine to be free, Syria’s regime has to fall.”

    Syria often has touted its support of the Palestinian cause to boost its credentials as a bastion of Arab nationalism.

    Kaileh’s detention caused an outcry by Arab intellectuals, who called for his release and lashed out at Assad — whose crackdown has not spared other intellectuals and artists.

    Recalling his arrest, Kaileh said Syrian intelligence stormed his house in an upscale Damascus district shortly after midnight. “They handcuffed and blindfolded me, took my three laptops, cell phones and any shred of paper they could lay their hands on.”

    “I told them I had nothing to do with the leaflets, but the interrogators insisted that they had information I was distributing them and that I had printed them out,” he said.

    He said Syrian security wanted to intimidate him by being “disdainful to Palestine and the Palestinian people, cursing us and saying the Israelis were better than us.”

    In one of the detention facilities in Mazeh — a Damascus suburb — Syrian security threatened they will “rape me and tape it to put the clip on the Internet,” he said.

    Rights groups have accused the Syrian government of torture of detainees. Claudio Grossman, the chairman of the U.N.’s Committee Against Torture, said this month that the Syrian government has carried out widespread killings, torture in hospitals, detention centers and secret detention facilities, as well as torture of children and sexual torture of male detainees.

    Kaileh said he shared a cell with at least six army defectors and several doctors who had treated wounded civilians.

    At night, he said he heard other prisoners “cry and scream while they were beaten.”

    Days later, Kaileh said he was admitted to a government hospital to treat his leg wounds. There, the conditions were “worse than in the detention centers.”

    He said he was squeezed into a small room with 30 other prisoners, mostly activists who allegedly participated in anti-government protests.

    “The room was barely enough to accommodate five people,” he said. “It was filled with body stench, dirt, urine and stool. Two people shared small beds and were tied to them, the food was lousy and we couldn’t eat properly because our hands and feet were handcuffed day and night.”

    “We were not allowed to go to the restroom,” he said. “Still, we were beaten if we urinated in our sleep.”

    “The detention facilities I was taken to were human slaughterhouses,” Kaileh said.

  35. Today’s flavour is Idlib!

    24 killed by Assadism, most of them in Idlib.

  36. anniebannie

    N.Z. I believe OTW is in prison maybe lured by some fake revolutionary to Syria; just hope he will get out with his life.
    A Belgian professor who was blindly pro-regime came back from his 4th trip saying “fuck this bloody bastard regime” (http://anniebannie.net/2012/05/24/le-chemin-de-damas-de-pierre-piccinin/). He had a taste of Syrian muhabarat hospitality

  37. Son of Damascus

    Annie,

    What???? Please explain more about OTW!

    I really hope what you said is not true.!!!

  38. “I believe OTW is in prison… ”

    Oh, Annie, please don’t say that. Though it isn’t such a far fetched possibility since the regime and its followers have stooped to lower levels, I sure hope it isn’t true.

    OTW, wherever you are, come back soon!

  39. anniebannie

    Son of Damascus, mgb, I apologize but why have we been without news for so long ?
    OK, if he is in Syria it is normal that he would not communicate.
    I am just scared that he might have been trapped.

  40. Dear annie
    Sorry, didn’t mean to cause you concern, I am alive, kicking, and beyond the reach of the buffoon and his thugs. I just wrote a new post.

  41. OTW has a thing called a job….

  1. Pingback: Assad or We Scorch the Country (By OTW) « band annie's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Not In My Name: The Syrian Uprising Through Palestinian Eyes « band annie's Weblog

  3. Pingback: A Syrian voice from Walls « band annie's Weblog

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