We have some great articles coming over the next couple weeks, but in the meantime I want to post a few assorted things that I find interesting, but have not appeared on the blog. I will briefly add my own thoughts at the end.
This is part two of the interview that I did with a Bahraini citizen on the ground. It is not necessary to watch Part I to understand this one.
I was pursuing the Internet looking for information on Syria and I stumbled on a few interesting excerpts:
My analysis, based on what I heard from the few eyewitnesses I met in Antalya (who came from Syria to attend the conference), is this: it seems that most army troops and officers simply refuse to obey shoot-on-sight orders. This applies to both Alawite and Sunni officers, but only those who actually question the order publicly risk getting shot, while the few who obey orders unquestioningly get immediately recruited into an elite all-Alawite Unit that the Assads are deploying with greater frequency. In other words, the Assads are reshuffling the army and creating a number of all-Alawite units made up specifically of people who have been tested and have shown themselves to be hardcore loyalists. It is these units that have been sent to Jisr Ashoughour.
The eyewitnesses we contacted don’t seem to support the theory that a major defection has taken place. In this light, the troops-buildup in the northern region could be construed as theatrics meant for domestic consumption. The more tension, the great the fear, the less likely that people will take to the streets in Damascus and Aleppo. Rather than an insurrection, we could simply be dealing with another cold-blooded mass murder. Have all superpowers lost control over their surveillance satellites? Because at this stage, they are the ones with actual means to tell us exactly what’s happening, but they remain quiet.
2. Radwan Ziadeh points out four differences between Hafez Assad’s crackdown in the 1980s and Bashar’s current assault. They are fairly obviously, but certainly work reposting. The excerpt comes from The Daily Star.
However, there are four differences today in Syria when compared to what happened three decades ago. These involve fundamental transformations that are preventing the same outcome as then.
First, there is the breadth and multiplication of demonstrations. The demonstrations today are not focused in one or two cities as during the 1980s. Instead, they have spread to many dozens of towns and cities throughout Syria. As a consequence, the regime’s ability to crush the discontent has grown increasingly limited.
Second, the demonstrations have been largely peaceful since they started on March 15. The protesters have carefully avoided resorting to violence, in spite of the enormous amount of violence that that has been visited on them by the army and the security forces. Indeed, according to estimates by activists, some 1,200 people are believed to have been killed in just two months of demonstrations.
Third, the role of media is very different than what it was previously. Media is one reason why we know more or less the number of casualties in the ongoing protests. In contrast, to this day we don’t have an official count for those killed in Hama in 1982, with estimates varying between 20,000 and 30,000. At the time access to information was restricted, which is no longer possible. Today, events can be documented immediately. The revolution in technology and communications, like Internet sites and social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, is critical in disclosing what is going on, and in allowing protesters to communicate between themselves.
And fourth, the behavior of the international community has changed. During the 1980s the Syrian regime benefited from the protection of the Soviet Union. While the United States condemned the massacre in Hama, it was very difficult then to know precisely what had happened. And when Hafez Assad joined the coalition against Iraq in 1990, this improved Syria’s relations with Washington and other countries. Today, in contrast, global condemnation of the Assads is rising, particularly in light of the international community’s outrage with the brutality of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.
3. I got this excerpt from Syria Comment. I find it interesting because so far Aleppo has been relatively quite in terms of protests.
Aleppo is coming out to protest today in Bab al-Neirab and a few other highly conservative neighborhoods. Sources say that activists have been trying to get protests of 10,000 off the ground in Aleppo but have been beaten back badly by regime force.
4. This is headline of a guardian article that epitomizes the majority of Syrian State TV reporting Syria’s state TV director tells BBC ‘refugees’ just visiting family in Turkey
The interview with the man in Bahrain disturbed me. He said that GCC troops are dressing in Bahraini uniforms, thousands of Shiites have been fired, people can be humiliated on the street, and that doesn’t even include the stories of abuse we do hear on the news.
Even if we take what he says with a grain of salt, the western media is clearly missing a large part of the picture. Sure the Bahraini revolution might seem relatively calm on the surface but there is a lot of stuff boiling under the surface.
As for Syria, these excerpts remind me how confusing the situation must be for those inside Syria. It cannot imagine having to balance my personal security, my financial interests and moral issues in a country where there is contradicting information, violent clashes, and a struggling economy. I imagine it’s getting harder and harder to walk the middle line.