It is quite interesting that the two remaining revolutions that have either not been crushed (as in Bahrain) or succeeded (as in Libya, Tunisia and, perhaps, Egypt) are now Yemen and Syria. Religious types will be quite excited with the similarities to the Muslim hadith where the Prophet blessed Sham (Syria) and Yemen. This Friday is the "Friday of [Our] Sham and Yemen". Coincidentally, it seems that Anwar al Awlaki, the alleged al Qaeda mastermind who had been hiding in Yemen, was killed. I think his role has been overinflated and he isn't as important as people make him out to be, but if the Americans want him dead then I suppose that's just bad luck for him.
Reactions from the United States regarding the pelting of the US ambassador to Syria recently:
“This inexcusable assault is clearly part of ongoing campaign of intimidation aimed at diplomats ... who are raising questions about what is going on inside Syria. It reflects an intolerance on the part of the regime and its supporters.” — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, after Syria regime supporters pelted the U.S. ambassador to Syria with tomatoes and eggs.
The British and American diplomats are naturally quite pleased with the instability that is happening in Syria, but I wouldn't confuse their 'concern' with the 'West' actually fomenting the Syrian uprising, which has now become a revolution and could possibly turn into a civil war. Some confused leftists and activists not withstanding, it seems quite clear by now that both the United States and Iran are not that keen on Assad losing his power. It would be quite terrible for both of them to have a vacuum that will upset the power balance in the region.
From the Rastan, the Huffington Post reports, "Syria: Seven Soldiers Killed in Rastan". I think that's an extremely conservative estimate. Some rumours that have circulated say that almost four hundred Syrian (Assad loyalist) soldiers have been killed so far in the fiercest fighting seen since the uprising began. al Rastan is traditionally where many Syrian soldiers from the rank and file come from, and it is a town with a strong military tradition. CNN reports that almost forty nine people were killed in Syria on Wednesday and Thursday.
An interesting piece on the (pro-Saudi) al Arabiyah website by Amir Taheri. The author is trying to draw parallels between Iran and Syria, arguing that the regimes in both countries now rely almost entirely on the military for their power and legitimacy. The evidence he gives is quite flimsy, and if anything I think Syria is probably what Iran *might* be if its institutions are further eroded. I don't think even the worst days of the Green Revolution can be compared with the brutality we are seeing in Syria. In my opinion, and my knowledge of Iranian internal affairs is limited, I think Iran at least has the semblance of a parliamentary and electoral system, and there is a more developed and active civil society that is struggling with the regime through the courts and government institutions. In Syria every single government, judicial and political or non-governmental institution has been taken under the Baath (and hence the Assad family's) fold. The savagery we are seeing is, I think, partly due to the shock of the regime that people are actually daring to question its supremacy in all aspects of governance and society.
"Fox News" is reporting that the U.N. human rights inquiry is demanding access to Syria. Fat chance in my opinion. Even if access is granted it will not be open.
The BBC's Panorama recently had a programme about Syria, it is quite shocking and the footage is very raw and emotional. Here it is:
From Turkey (Arabic link), there are rumbles that the Turkish government will retaliate if the Syrian regime begins a boycott of Turkish goods.
From Pulse Media, Robin Yassin Kassab argues that the Syrian regime's allegations of armed groups trying to start a civil war have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think he's right.