Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (31/10/2011): At least 12 martyrs fell today – mostly in Homs and Hama countryside – as the regime failed to give an answer to the Arab League proposals. On the contrary Assad shows no indication of moving away from a military solution (In his interview at the weekend he said “I won’t waste my time with the Syrian opposition.”) As reinforcements continue to arrive in Homs and the regime seems to be preparing for a renewed offensive in Jabal Az-Zawiyah, Idlib province. Number of recorded martyrs since 15 March: At least 4,135. Syria – Monday 31/10/2011 Read more
- stop the killing of people;
- stop the destruction of property;
- withdraw all army and police, and Shahbia, and their weapons including landmines;
- release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience;
- enable medical supplies to reach those who need it;
- enable teams of international observers from United Nations, Red Cross and the Arab League to visit all parts of the country
- including access to hospitals and prisons;
- announce a timetable towards imminent elections for all central and local government positions in all areas, including the position of President – a process that must be overseen by international observers;
- enable the international media access to all parts of the country.
That would be a start.
[This list is not exhaustive].
In relation to elections:
- All stateless Kurds must be granted citizenship – Ajanib and Maktoum, not just those have been previously registered.
- All political parties and independents must be free to engage in the election process.
Reuters: Arab League hands Syria plan to end unrest
The Arab League handed Syrian officials a plan for ending seven months of increasingly violent unrest against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, and Assad told Russian Television he would cooperate with the opposition.
“We will cooperate with all political powers, both those who had existed before the crisis, and those who arose during it. We believe interacting with these powers is extremely important,” Assad said in the interview on Sunday.
The United Nations says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters demanding political reforms and an end to Assad’s rule.
Assad blames the unrest of foreign-backed armed gangs and said in the television interview there had been “hundreds of deaths among the military, police and security forces.”
The Arab League committee put its plan, involving talks in Cairo between the Syrian authorities and their opponents, to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem and Bouthaina Shaaban, a political adviser to Assad, on Sunday in Qatar.
The League had previously set a two-week deadline for the start of such talks, which expired on Sunday. The committee said it hoped for a Syrian response to its plan by Monday.
“More important than a dialogue is action… This committee has given a very strong response to the recent killings,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, whose country presides over the committee, told reporters.
Syrian objections to holding a meeting regarding what they consider domestic affairs outsideSyria was one of the points of disagreement between the two sides.
Opposition sources said 61 civilians and 30 soldiers had been killed in the latest clashes over the previous three days.
Opposition figures have repeatedly said Assad’s offers of dialogue were not serious, and have said there has been a rise in recent weeks of mass arrests, torture, disappearances and assassinations of activists and street protest leaders.
“Whether we agree on the working paper or not we hope to receive an answer by Monday. If they approve the working paper, it will be implemented immediately,” Thani said after the meeting, without giving details.
China’s Middle East envoy called on the authorities on Sunday to speed up the reforms Assad has promised, saying the situation was dangerous and the bloodshed could not continue.
INTERVENTION AN “EARTHQUAKE”
Assad told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph that Western powers would cause an “earthquake” in the Middle East if they intervened in Syria, after protesters demanded outside protection to stop the killing of civilians.
Syria sits at the heart of the volatile Middle East, sharing borders with Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.
“It is the faultline, and if you play with the ground, you will cause an earthquake,” he said. “Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?”
Mass protests have not persuaded Assad to carry out significant reforms, and Western sanctions aimed at Assad and the ruling elite have not been matched by any sign of military intervention, unlike the NATO action in Libya.
Syria, a mostly Sunni Muslim country of 20 million, is ruled by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, who also dominate the military, key sectors of the economy and a pervasive security apparatus.
On Sunday, security forces and pro-Assad militiamen killed at least 10 civilians, mostly in Homs, 140 km (85 miles) north of Damascus, bringing the total in the last 72 hours to 61, activists and residents said.
Syria has barred most international media, making it hard to verify conflicting accounts from activists and authorities.
Homs province, which borders Lebanon and is home to one of Syria’s two oil refineries, is emerging as a center of armed resistance to Assad’s rule after months of peaceful protests that often drew a violent response from security forces.
One activist group said fighters thought to be army deserters had killed 30 soldiers in clashes in Homs city and in an ambush in the northwestern province of Idlib on Saturday.
INVOKING THE PAST
In the television interview, Assad compared the unrest with the 1980s, when his father, Hafez al-Assad, crushed Islamist and leftist challenges to his rule, killing tens of thousands.
Many thousands were killed in 1982 in the city of Hama when the elder Assad’s armed forces crushed a revolt by the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Opposition figures say Islamists played no part in starting the anti-Assad uprising that erupted in March.
Forty-one years of Assad family rule have stifled political life and public debate in Syria, making it hard to predict how Syrians would vote if their country became a democracy.
Some argue that Islamists are unlikely to win power, citing secular traditions among Syria’s majority Sunnis, who live alongside Christian, Alawite and Druze minorities.
Burhan Ghalioun, a main figure in the opposition Syrian National Council, formed in Istanbul in September, is a secular, Western-educated professor. The council also includes Islamists.
NATO military intervention in Libya played a decisive role in toppling Muammar Gaddafi, the third Arab leader to be overthrown after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
Western nations, which have been tightening sanctions on Syria to include the oil sector, have shown no desire to repeat their Libyan operation in Syria, though demonstrators have called for a “no-fly zone” to protect them.
Kurdish activist Salman Ako died after suffering a gunshot to the head by security forces and shabeha, while he was participating in a peaceful demonstration in the city of Keswa in Damascus province on Saturday, October 29, 2011. He will be buried in Qamchlo today, the 30 October 2011.
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (30/10/2011): At least 10 martyrs fell today – among them a 22 years old woman. Kernaz and other towns in Hama province have been attacked by Assad’s forces looking for members of the Syrian Free Army (who killed up to 30 of Assad’s forces yesterday). Ban Ki Moon said the violence must end immediately while China’s Middle East envoy said “the situation cannot continue.” Meanwhile the Arab League Ministers Committee delivered it’s proposals to Syria – Assad’s regime is expected to answer tomorrow. See the map for more info. Syria – Sunday 30/10/2011 Read more
Within the framework of the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) affair, the Turkish police detained Ragip Zarakolu, a well-known human rights activist and director of Belge Publishing House, in Turkey. Zarakolu is also the chairman of the Publishers Association Freedom to Publish Committee of Turkey.
Zarakolu was taken into custody on October 28, 2011, during a large-scale manhunt in Istanbul against Kurdish and human rights activists.
His son, Deniz Zarakolu, editor of the Belge Publishing House, was arrested on October 4.
Ragip Zarakolu’s Belge Publishing House has published numerous books as well on the oppression of the national minorities in Turkey as the Armenian Genocide. Read more
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (29/10/2011): At least 20 martyrs have fallen today, 12 of them in Homs where the regime continues to indiscriminately shell residential areas and where several dozen soldiers have defected in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile the Arab League Ministerial Committee has issued an urgent call for the regime to stop killing civilains (at least 335 people have been killed during the last 2 weks). “Lies” says FM Muallim, due to meet Arab League officials in Doha tomorrow. See the map for more info. Syria – Saturday 29/10/2011 Read more
One of the most notable aspects of the revolt against the Asad regime in Syria has been the proliferation of opposition movements and the various attempts to join them into a single unified opposition movement. This article will observe the state of the opposition prior to the uprising, note the key new alignments in the opposition, and critically assess the attempts at unification.
The uprising against the Asad dictatorship of 2011 was predicted by few within Syria or beyond it. President Bashar Asad himself famously gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal on January 31, 2011, in which he dismissed the possibility that he would face a revolt against his rule of the kind that at that time had brought down Presidents bin Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt. Bashar contended that his regime’s anti-Western stances and support for the Palestinians reflected the deep convictions of his people, and this would ensure his immunity. Read more
Boy emerges from ruins of apartment block five days after earthquake that killed nearly 600 peopleTeenager rescued from the rubble in Turkey Link to this video
Rescue workers in eastern Turkey have pulled a 13-year-old boy alive from the rubble of an apartment block, five days after a powerful earthquake that killed nearly 600 people.
The rescue lifted spirits as thousands of quake survivors endured a fifth freezing and wet night without a roof over their heads. Read more
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (27/10/2011): At least 21 martyrs have fallen today, as the regime attacked towns in the Hama countryside, and tried to end the week-long general strike in Daraa province through force. Meanwhile in Lattakia, where at least 187 martyrs have fallen since March, thousands of Assad loyalists were bussed in to stage a rally. While Assad was in Damascus talking with the Chinese envoy, his forces on the Lebanese border were busy laying mines. Finally, congratulations to our favourite cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who won the European parliament’s Sakharov prize today for his work in support of freedom. Syria – Thursday 27/10/2011 Read more
Syria National Council leader Burhan Ghallioun talks to Deutsche Welle tv (the link has since been taken down) from Germany 26 October 2011 [around 00:12 minutes into the video]:
Extract from an interview with Burhan Ghallioun, leader of the Syrian National Council on :
In answer to a question about the fear of the Kurds and Arabisation in Syria, and institutional racial discrimination suffered by the Kurds since 1958 when the name of the county changed to the United Arab Republic: Read more