Monday, February 13, 2012

PoliticsSyria: Transition: From peaceful protest to armed revolution ...

refWrite comment:  It looks like the Martin-Luther-King-style of protest, peaceful direct action, has only brawt a continuous slawter of Syrians opposed to the Alawite tyranny headed by Bashir Assad and his Baathist Party.  Finally, a rebel Free Syria Army, including increasing numbers of defectors from the regular Syrian Army, has emerged to visiblity — even in the suburbs of Damascus.  Jeremy Bowen and his Damascus team are digging up the facts "on the ground," as they say.  How much is the developing revolution, with Turkey's help but China's and Russia's resistance, following in the footsteps of the Egptian revoluttion? or the Tunian? or the Libyan? It is difficult to say, much less know, given the volatility of the situation/s in most of the Arab revolutionary states and rebellions where as yet control by the new forces is lacking, and the uniqueness of each.

What we do know of the Syrian uniqueness, Syrian exceptionalism (if you will), is its up-till-now connectedness with the Iran theocrats acting thru their allies in Lebanon, the Hesbollah Party there under Shia mullah, Nasrullah.  Insisting upon being in the governing coalition, Hezbollah has cultivated a parallel state (one m+t almost say).  Earlier Syria had cultivated it, now Syria is cultivated by it.  On the other hand, Turkey is sponsoring the Syrian Free Army, and Saudi Arabia as a good Sunni neibor which had opposed Hezbollah in Syria is now again a good Sunni neibor in Alawite-controlled Syria with its Baathist Party holding t+t to the reins of this now galloping steed.  A clan/tribe in Saudi Arabia is rushing assistance to its offshoot in sourthern Syria.

I think Syria will have its revolution, and Assad's tyrannous regime will be overthrown.  And from a long-term perspective I and refWrite can support it; what must come, must come.  But in the shorter term, it's provably most l+kly that the present tyranny of the minority will be replaced Egypt-style by a tyranny of the majority, most l+ly again a Sunni majority — or an alliance of Sunni and Shia l+n'd up against a minority consisting of Alawites, Christians, with splinters from the other main forces as well as secularists who want all sorts of religiously-motivated power configurations out of the way in the country's politics of the future.

Most distressing to me, is the report below carrying the sentence:  Assad "can still can count on most of the Alawite community he comes from - also on many Christians - and significant numbers of Druze and Kurds. "  But this was Assad's and his father's strategy all along — with %10 of the population belonging to the Alawite Muslim clans/tribes, and %10 of the population being Christians whose communities go back to the t+m of Saint Paul's mission to Damascus, to which total %20 was augmented by the communities of the Druze and the Kurds,  it only remained for the Alawite-dominated coalition to win to itself factions from the Sunnis and Shia.  The Shia as mentioned, already had linkages to Assad thru the Shi'ite Hezbollah in Lebanon, financed by the Shia mullocracy in Iran.  In this the Christians woud be ent+rly on the wrong s+d, except that some apparently are clearly on the s+d of the Syrian revolution, or woud l+k to be.  Hopefully, the revolution will turn nonsectarian tho united against Assad's Alawite Baathists; hopefully, the revolutionary forces will not freeze out the Christians, Druze, Kurds, and even some Shia, but instead welcome them.

Politicarp, refWrite Frontpage political columnist

general editor, refWrite Frontpage

Syria rebels gain foothold 

in Damascus

Watch Jeremy Bowen's video reports from Syria over the past 10 days
When the BBC team approached a checkpoint set up by the rebel Free Syria Army in the suburbs of Damascus, masked men with Kalashnikov assault rifles and hand grenades moved towards us - a few of them offering dates and biscuits.
It is customary to give mourners something sweet, and a funeral was about to start that they said they were protecting.
I had no idea before I saw them with my own eyes that the Free Syria Army was so active in and around Damascus.
Read more ... click the t+m stamp below ...

The first time, in a small town called Zabadani, about half an hour from Damascus, it took a while for my brain to catch up with what I was seeing.
We went in there with an official from the ministry of information, who got us through the army cordon that surrounded the town.

Start Quote

The Free Syria Army were only 30 minutes from the presidential palace in Damascus”
A truce had been negotiated with the Free Syria Army - the first time that the Assad regime had properly acknowledged that the loose groups of ill-equipped defectors from its own forces were at all significant.
Even so, when a man who said he was an anti-government activist walked up to us and offered to take us to see the rebel fighters, I couldn't believe my ears.
I thought he was some sort of regime stooge and was playing an elaborate trick. I hadn't realised that the army had pulled out of the town.
Our minder said later that he was horrified, and scared to see the rebel fighters close up, but he hid it so well that I thought he had organised some sort of hoax to discredit the BBC's reporting.
How wrong can you be? It was all real. The Free Syria Army were only 30 minutes from the presidential palace in Damascus.
Since then, I have seen their men in significant numbers inside Damascus itself. They are treated as heroes in the places they have appeared.
It is not exactly clear how long they have been out in the open, setting up roadblocks and building firing positions here in Damascus - but as far as I can tell, it is only the last week or two.
Losing ground
It took 10 months to get a visa to visit Syria for 10 days. Even though I thought I knew the country pretty well - I was a regular visitor before the uprising started last March and I've interviewed the president a couple of times - this trip has been full of surprises.
It has been hard to get out to report freely. But it has been possible, if occasionally hair-raising, and after 10 days I have a much better idea about what is happening.

First of all, it is not a matter of the regime against the rest. President Assad has significant support.
It is probably being eroded by the tide of blood, but he can still can count on most of the Alawite community he comes from - also on many Christians - and significant numbers of Druze and Kurds.
That could be as much as 40% of the population. The Alawites support him because of who he is.
The others believe he will safeguard minorities in a way that the mainly Sunni Muslims in the opposition and the free army would not.
What is also clear is that President Assad is losing ground in and around the capital. The poor Sunni suburbs - grim, poor tangles of concrete - are harbouring the free army.
They are not a match for the president's forces yet. But they are getting stronger.
Dark days ahead
The regime, and the people who want it overthrown, view what is happening here as a fight to the finish. For both sides, it is winner take all.
The fact that the country is splitting along confessional lines is dangerous. In Lebanon, next door, they had a sectarian civil war that pretty much destroyed the country.

In Syria it is not a war yet, but it is starting to look like one. Homs, the centre of the uprising in the north, is paralysed and battered. Deraa, where it started in the south, feels as if it is being patrolled by an occupying army.
There are questions I cannot answer. How much force does the regime hold in reserve? Will the president face a palace coup, perhaps from an Alawite general fearful that Mr Assad's stand will destroy their whole community? And will foreigners intervene decisively, as they did in Libya?
I cannot see how, in the long term, the regime can survive an uprising started by people who are so determined that they demonstrate even when they might get killed. But it will not go quietly.
Everyone I have spoken to here believes the worst days still lie ahead.

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