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Syria braces for more anti-regime protests

Syria plunged deeper into chaos and bloodshed Friday as adamant pro-democracy protesters took to the streets across the country in cities and towns including Homs, Lattakia, Amouda, Izram, Dara, Der Ezzor and Qamishli in mass protests that mark what protestors have called “Friday of Tribes.”

The theme of Friday’s protests means, “The clan is with every rebel,” activists explained. According to reports of eyewitnesses and activists, as well as video footage, harsh security measures have been taken to put a lid on the voice of dissent emanating from the streets Friday.

According to an activist in Homs, throngs of peaceful protesters were met with live ammunition by a security force that has remained by and large loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Tanks began to take position Wednesday night, preparing to stage mass arrests and assaults on thousands of demonstrators Friday, he said.

“It is unacceptable. I ask the Arab army of Syria to take a good look at what’s going on. They want to kill off their own people? Our army is supposed to protect us. Even animals have never been treated this brutally,” he said.

Security forces appear to be growing more brazen. In the video above, Syrian soldiers kick and stomp a blindfolded victim who is crying for help and wailing in pain in Bab Amr in the province of Homs a day earlier. Afterward the soldiers take a group picture standing on the backs of their victims.

“This is for asking for freedom,” said the soldier as he beat the victim. “You want to topple the regime? Here the regime is down. What else do you want? Tell me what freedom means to you?” asked the soldier.

Pan-Arab Qatari news station Al-Jazeera reported the death of two protesters in the southern town of Bousra al Harir, citing Reuters. As many as eight others were injured by live ammunition in the opposition stronghold of Dara, the scene of some of the most widely attended demonstrations on Friday.

The death toll is expected to rise as protests continue throughout the day.

In the video above, hundreds of pro-democracy protesters march through the streets of the northern town of Amouda, carrying banners and large Syrian flags.

“When the day comes and the people demand freedom, then their fate is to be free,” reads one banner, quoting a well-known Arab proverb that has become the motto of an uprising which has sent shockwaves through the region.

In another video, residents of the Damascus suburb of Kiswa huddle under fluttering Syrian flags demanding the end of the four-decade rule of the Assad family.

“We are not afraid anymore. This is our right. We have the right to demand democracy. If we can’t live a life where we can ask for basic human rights then what good is this life?” said an activist in Der Ezzor, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Despite the lack of restraint Syrian security forces have demonstrated while dealing with protestors — captured in a series of recent incriminating videos — these rounds of Friday protests have swept across Syria.

Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Videos: Syrian soldiers assault civilian in Bab Amr; protesters take to the street in Amouda to participate in mass demonstrations Friday; anti-regime demonstrators march through the town of Kiswa. Credit: YouTube.

5 thoughts on “Syria braces for more anti-regime protests

  1. Syria oh Assyria, the name that is synonymous with anti-Christ and Gog & Mgog. Syria is also where most of the eye opening holy books came to us from before the country was overan by non-Christians. Nowadays, connection that are indirect and headline sharing violence are what brings attention to Syria; connection through the biblical style reign of Zenawi in Ethiopia, Steven P. Jobs of Apple, whose biological father came from Homs to Madison, Wisconsin, in the fifties. CNN’s Arwa Damon, an American-Syrian reporter who lately reports on Syria from Lebannon with view of 17″ MacBook Pro. But Syria is defining the era we live in, in the way the Sementengaw Sheeh Zemen unfolds infront of us. From the incredibly out of place existence of ours of the last twenty years to the pending emergence and influence of the anti-Christ to the tell tell sign of the second coming, Syria a.k.a Assyria, more than Egypt or Babylon, has overtaken the ages. Translation: this is not a movie, the ground is moving under our feet… ” KeSemain Meret Mesentek….”

    TAG: deception; deceiving; plunder; snake; wolf; Assyria; Syria; the end of times; India; Dan; Israel; tribes; “rod of God’s anger; unrighteousness; sin, computer; 666; arrogance; oppression; fear; rule by children and women; starvation; the tribulation of Judah the tribe….

  2. June 9, 2011
    How Tyrants Endure

    WHY do certain dictators survive while others fall? Throughout history, downtrodden citizens have tried to throw off the yoke of their oppressors, but revolutions, like those sweeping through the Arab world, are rare. Despotic rulers stay in power by rewarding a small group of loyal supporters, often composed of key military officers, senior civil servants and family members or clansmen. A central responsibility of these loyalists is to suppress opposition to the regime. But they only carry out this messy, unpleasant task if they are well rewarded. Autocrats therefore need to ensure a continuing flow of benefits to their cronies. If the dictator’s backers refuse to suppress mass uprisings or if they defect to a rival, then he is in real trouble. That is why successful autocrats reward their cronies first, and the people last. As long as their cronies are assured of reliable access to lavish benefits, protest will be severely suppressed. Once the masses suspect that crony loyalty is faltering, there is an opportunity for successful revolt. Three types of rulers are especially susceptible to desertion by their backers: new, decrepit and bankrupt leaders. Newly ensconced dictators do not know where the money is or whose loyalty they can buy cheaply and effectively. Thus, during transitions, revolutionary entrepreneurs can seize the moment to topple a shaky new regime. Even greater danger lurks for the aging autocrat whose cronies can no longer count on him to deliver the privileges and payments that ensure their support. They know he can’t pay them from beyond the grave. Decrepitude slackens loyalty, raising the prospects that security forces will sit on their hands rather than stop an uprising, giving the masses a genuine chance to revolt. This is what brought about the end of dictatorships in the Philippines, Zaire and Iran. In addition to rumors of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s and Hosni Mubarak’s health concerns, Tunisia and Egypt suffered serious economic problems that kindled rebellion. Grain and fuel prices were on the rise, unemployment, particularly among the educated, was high and, in Egypt’s case, there had been a substantial decline in American aid (later reinstated by President Obama). Mr. Mubarak’s military backers, beneficiaries of that aid, worried that he was no longer a reliable source of revenue. As money becomes scarce, leaders can’t pay their cronies, leaving no one to stop the people if they rebel. This is precisely what happened during the Russian and French revolutions and the collapse of communist rule in Eastern Europe — and why we predicted Mr. Mubarak’s fall in a presentation to investors last May. Today’s threat to Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria can be seen in much the same light. With a projected 2011 deficit of approximately 7 percent of G.D.P., declining oil revenue and high unemployment among the young, Mr. Assad faces the perfect conditions for revolution. He may be cracking heads today, but we are confident that either he will eventually enact modest reforms or someone will step into his shoes and do so. Contagion also plays an important part in revolutionary times. As people learn that leaders in nearby states can’t buy loyalty, they sense that they, too, may have an opportunity. But it does not automatically lead to copycat revolutions. In many nations, particularly the oil-rich Gulf States, either there has been no protest or protest has been met with violence. In Bahrain, for example, 60 percent of government revenue comes from the oil and gas sector; its leaders have therefore faced few risks in responding to protests with violent oppression. This is because resource-rich autocrats have a reliable revenue stream available for rewarding cronies — and repression does not jeopardize this flow of cash. Natural resource wealth explains why the octogenarian Robert Mugabe shows no sign of stepping down in Zimbabwe and the oil-rich Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has given little hint of compromise from the start in Libya. As NATO bombs fall on Tripoli, however, Colonel Qaddafi is discovering that he needs to convince remaining loyalists that he can re-establish control over Libya’s oil riches or they, too, will turn on him. Sadly, if the rebels win, they are also likely to suppress freedom to ensure their control over oil wealth. Regimes rich in natural resources or flush with foreign aid can readily suppress freedom of speech, a free press and, most important, the right to assemble. By contrast, resource-poor leaders can’t easily restrict popular mobilization without simultaneously making productive work so difficult that they cut off the tax revenues they need to buy loyalty. Such leaders find themselves between a rock and a hard place and would be wise to liberalize preemptively. This is why we expect countries like Morocco and Syria to reform over the next few years even if their initial response to protest is repression. The same incentive for democratization exists in many countries that lack a natural reservoir of riches like China and Jordan — a bad omen for authoritarian rulers and good news for the world’s oppressed masses.

    Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University and the authors of “The Dictator’s Handbook.”

  3. It is happening in my generation, and I am a witness for it and determined to pass it to the next generation!

    What is this Western-educated Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, with his British-born wife, nee Asma Fawaz al-Akhras, doing on his own people as the whole world is watching the brutality his merciless soldiers are committing on the people of Syria, especially on that helpless man on the ground, as the video shows, kicking him repeatedly and standing on his fallen body for their pictures to be taken as if they have accomplished a noble duty for their country?

    Does Mr. Bashar al-Assad really know that the whole world is watching the floods of blood flowing in the streets of Damascus, Homs, Hama, and many other Syrian cities, and the dogs of Syria are licking the human bloods flowing profusely from thousands of dead bodies?

    I may not witness, because I was not born, the Armenian and the Syrian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire after World War II, but I can vividly witness the senseless massacres of the over 40 thousand Syrian civilians in 1976 by Hafez al-Assad, father of President Bashar al-Assad, the son of a killer.

    How true the American saying is: “Like Father Like Son!” Indeed, I am afraid, President Bashar al-Assad may terrify the world by killing more Syrians than his father who kept his bled-tainted Presidency and passed it to his own son who is now struggling to keep that heritage of blood and pass it to his offspring, never to give it up to another Syrian who is not from the Alawite tribe, Bashar’s tribe who wants to rule Syria for eternity.

    I am, like one of the millions of people, thanks to the modern media, a dependable witness to the bloodsheds of the Syrian people by their own President Bashar al-Assad, and I wonder why his wife nee Asma Fawaz al-Akhras has failed to persuade her bloodthirsty Muslim husband from attacking her families’ town – Homs? Didn’t that beautiful and charming Jewish girl (you remember?) Queen Esther convinced her husband king Xerxes and saved her Jewish people from annihilation by that wicked man Haman, and isn’t she still remembered by the Jewish people who celebrate Purim in her memory every year (Esther 3:13)? This British-born Muslim lady, Asma Fawaz, doesn’t care about what her husband is doing on her and his people; however, Queen Esther cared about her people and saved all of them, not just Morddecai’s family who raised her after her mother and father died.

    We know Asma Fawaz is a very beautiful woman like Queen Esther, and the only difference between these two beautiful women is that Queen Esther used her beauty, intelligence, and her faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to save her people, but the First Lady, Mrs. Asma Fawaz, betrayed her people at the time when all the Syrian people needed her help. In fact, she might have fled to London to save her life from the wrath of the Syrian people.

    To be fair, I might say that the Muslim culture may not allow her to advice her husband but only to receive from him whatever he says to her and live with it without objection.

    As a human being, I may forget the bloodshed I saw in Damascus and in many other Syrian cities, but I will never, ever, forget the agony of that unfortunate Syrian man I saw being handcuffed, blindfolded, thrown onto the ground, forced to lay down, and being kicked several times while he was calling for mercy. The unforgettable part of this drama – tragedy, the abuse of power – is when I saw those three or four Syrian soldiers standing over the victim’s body and inviting one of their comrades to take their pictures. The other unforgettable event in Syria is the torture-killing of a-13-year old Syrian boy on May 31, 2011, and I am sure there are many other horrible incidents not yet told publicly in Syria.

    An Oracle Against Damascus: Many, many years ago, one of the greatest Biblical Prophets, Isaiah the Prophet prophesied against the Syrian City, Damascus: “See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a hip of ruins” (Isaiah 17:1).

    At various times in history, Damascus has been attacked by various empires such as the Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs; however, Damascus is still standing tall and shining; therefore, the complete doom of Damascus has not yet materialized: Isaiah’s prophecy has not yet fulfilled, but it will happen. Remember, it was Isaiah who prophesied: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This prophecy had been fulfilled when Jesus was born from the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem over centuries ago.

    According to the prophecy of Isaiah, Damascus will indeed become “a hip of ruins” like the old city of Babylon; however, when Jesus returns to this earth for the second time, he will restore Damascus. The Prophet Isaiah who prophesied the destruction of Damascus gives us hope and assurance: “The Lord Almighty will bless Israel, Egypt, and Syria: ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria [Syria], my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance’” (Isaiah 19:24, 25).

    May the Almighty God, Jesus Christ, strengthen the Syrian people and give them a lasting peace until he returns to this earth for the second time!

    Assta B. Gettu

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