Monday, April 11, 2011

Latest thoughts on Syrian Events

I'm watching what is happening in Syria with grave concern. There have been dozens of deaths so far in Banias, Homs, Lattakia, Daraa and other parts of the country. State media have been blaming "armed gangs" for the attacks and claimed to have 'exclusive' footage of them shooting at the crowds. I don't believe that for an instant, and nobody else seems to buy it either. The protests have been gathering pace every Friday and don't look like they will slow down any time soon. The state's response has been thuggish, brutal and incredibly stupid. If things continue like this then the country will descend into a whirlpool of violence.

On al Jazeera, which has picked up its coverage of what is happening there, I was surprised to hear that there may be as many as 4000 political prisoners whose fate is unaccounted for. This is the most conservative estimate, other estimates put the figure closer to 16,000. Of course these figures are not a result of the recent events, but a sum total over the past two or three decades. Everybody is being very careful about what they say, but I am noticing more and more Syrians living abroad who are demanding to know what is happening in Syria, simply because nobody in our families is saying anything on the phone. People are starting to ask questions, and also starting to express outrage over the senseless bloodshed. More and more Syrians I know are substituting their Facebook pages with black pictures, or a Syrian flag with a black strap on its corner. The fear is still there, but it no longer seems to paralyse people into inaction.

What is far more worrying is the number of people who, in a deluded fashion, appear to think that patriotism for Syria can only be expressed through supporting one man and his family. This is a divide that runs between friends and families; I am already at odds with some of my relatives on this matter. The state is taking on an increasingly corporatist, quasi-fascist, nature, and this is something I can never give my support to, regardless of the consequences I might face.

6 comments:

Ali said...

I myself know a fellow student (American) who, while studying in Damascus this spring, was at the outside of a protest taking pictures, and was subsequently captured by security forces and detained for three weeks. He was only released last week.

Abu Kareem said...

I had a surreal telephone call with my aunt in Lattakia two Saturdays ago the day 12 protesters were killed. It went something like this: me: Hope everyone is fine. She: There is nothing; everything is OK, when are you coming to visit? She is of the older generation, still cowering under the almost fifty year old rule of fear. On the other hand, a young distant relative in Lattakia friended me on Facebook about ten days ago. He uses his full name on his homepage and writes about the daily events in Lattakia. Unlike my aunt, his generation have shed the cloak of fear.

You are correct, this will not end anytime soon.

Nour said...

How do you explain the killing of 10 Army officers in Banias today? I doubt very much that the regime would kill their own soldiers. So, either there is division in the regime itself or there really are armed groups inside the country.

Maysaloon said...

Nour,
The question should be how do *you* explain it, because there is no independent media allowed to report from these areas. The Syrian government is not helping itself by imposing a media blackout unless there is something happening that they do not want the world to see. Incidentally, who are these officers? Do we have names, ranks?

All these questions are met with an uncomfortable silence. This is extremely worrying.

Nour said...

Wassim,
I agree about the Syrian government always imposing a media blackout, because of the way they respond to situations. But to be fair, they did release the names and ranks of all the soldiers and officers that were killed in Banias. I still think that there is something more to this than mere peaceful protesters being indiscriminately killed by security officers, although I don't deny that persecution and repression of peaceful protesters is definitely taking place. But it appears to me that there are indeed armed groups inside Syria that were supplied and supported by foreign forces.

Maysaloon said...

Well I hope you are right. But nobody has given any evidence of this mysterious "foreign" interference. Note that the same excuse was given in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and Bahrain. It is, I think, in our right to be skeptical of these claims unless evidence is given.

Maybe, just maybe, you are right. Otherwise this is not a Syria I want to go back to or be a part of because I'm disgusted, just like millions of people.