Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

April 15 2011

Palestine: Remembering Murdered Italian Activist Vittorio Arrigoni

Long before the deadline set by his captors arrived, kidnapped Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed, apparently hanged. Bloggers in Gaza and elsewhere have reacted with disbelief, anger and sorrow.

Vittorio arrigoni by carlos latuff

Vittorio Arrigoni by Carlos Latuff (@CarlosLatuff)

Arrigoni, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Gaza, was planning on visiting Italy soon because of his father's health [it].

Jared Malsin, who had met Arrigoni, writes:

I met Vittorio several times when I was in Gaza last year. I first met him when I accompanied him and several other activists to visit Palestinian families who had been injured in a series of Israeli airstrikes in the mid-Gaza area. He was a burley, bearded man, dressed in black and smiling wide. Talking politics the whole way, we shared the front seat of a van on the ride from Gaza City down to Deir Al-Balah. He had a tattoo of the word “resistance” (“muqawama”) in Arabic on the inside of his right arm.

He was a man who lived and died to express his solidarity with Palestinians. He was big-hearted and he was brave, twice participating in blockade-defying sea voyages to Gaza, three times jailed by Israel for his activism.

He embodied a certain spirit of the European anti-fascists of the 1930s and ’40s, who went to fight and die as partisans in Italy and Spain. “I come from a partisan family,” he once told an interviewer. “My grandfathers fought and died struggling against an occupation, another occupation. It was the Nazi-Fascist one. For this reason, probably, in my DNA, there are particles that push me to struggle.”

His murder is an outrage and an enormous tragedy.

Mohammed Rabah Suliman was friends with Arrigoni:

“Ween?” (the Arabic for “where”) was the first thing Vittorio ever asked me. He was looking for my phone number and sent me a FB message titled, “ween”. Today I ask him the same question: “ween?”

I can’t think of one reason that would make a “Palestinian” kill someone like Vittorio. A man who dedicated his life to fight injustice. A man who abandoned the luxury of Rome and came to one of the most turbulent regions in the world in order to expose Israeli atrocities committed against Palestinians. A man on whose right arm was big brilliant tattoo: resistance. A hero in whose eyes there was a whole lot of unmistakable meanings of profound love, loyalty, hope, sacrifice, truth and courage. Vittorio has done for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank more than those who killed him.

[…] Vittorio is a man who loved Gaza, he loved Gaza’s land, its sea, and its sky. Two things Vittorio obviously loved to do: to wave the Palestinian flag, and to sing “Onadikum” (I call upon you!). Wholeheartedly, Vittorio sang, “Onadikum” time and again. He poured his heart out as he sang it. It’s probably the only thing he could say so fluently in Arabic.

Now that you moved to live in our hearts, we’ll become stronger and fiercer in the battle against occupation, humiliation and injustice. Vittorio. Such an inspiration to all of us. You taught us that life isn’t worth living if one isn’t ready to fight against its injustice, and that’s what gives it a meaning, that’s what makes it all beautiful. Now, empowered by your “memory”, we’ll carry on the fight together.

Nazek Aburahma also remembers him, and she writes [ar]:

لا أعلم بصدق كيف أسطر ما أريده ، صباح يلتف بالدموع والاستياء ، استيقظت على خبر مقتل أحد المتضامنين الأجانب في مدينة غزة ، عرفته عن قرب باسم “فكتور ” في كل مرة كنت أراه فيه كنت ألاحظ شعلة الحب لفلسطين في عيونه والعلم الفلسطيني كان وشاحا ورفيقا لكل خطوة يحركها على تراب الأرض المحتلة ..
[…] ” فيكتور ” كان متحمسا وكان يلوح بيديه بعلامة النصر دائما ، والآن نلوح ورود الوداع على جثمانه ، ودموع العزاء لن تجف على جسده ، سيبقى حيا في ذهن كل حر كل فلسطيني كل انسان يتناصف أنفاس الحرية مع الآخر ، قتل “فكتور ” لكننا لن نغفر لمن قتلوه وستبقى دمائه معلقه في زاوية الآثام يتيمة حتى يعاقب من اقترف تلك الجريمة !..
لن ننساك ، ولن أنساك أبدا وستبقى فلسطين كهفا يلجأ اليه الأحرار على ترابها وان شطرت عروقنا عليها ، فحامل الرسالة اي كانت جنسيته ، ديانته يبقى مخلدا في التاريخ روحه وجسده لا يموتان ، رحمك الله يا صديق القضية والانسانية

I truly don’t know how to write what I want. A morning swathed in tears and dismay: I awoke to the news of the murder of one of the foreign solidarity activists in Gaza City. I knew him as “Victor”; with every encounter, I noticed in him the flame of love for Palestine in his eyes, and the Palestinian flag as his companion with his every step on the soil of the occupied land…

[…] Victor was passionate, always waving victory signs, and now we wave farewell flowers to his corpse. The tears of mourning will not dry on his body, they will remain alive in the minds of every free person, every Palestinian, every human who shares the breath of freedom with another. Victor was murdered, but we will not forgive those who killed him; his blood will remain on the wall of sins until those who committed this crime are punished!

Lina at Live From Gaza writes:

Vittorio Arrigoni was a very recognizable face in Gaza. I didn’t personally know him, but I came to know about his bravery from the documentary “To shoot an elephant”. Vittorio was one of the activists who stayed during operation “Cast Lead”. He was one of the voices which told the world about the brutality of the Israeli invasion.

Sadness and anger prevail over the murder of the Italian activist. Those who claimed responsibility for the abduction and murder of Vittorio call themselves Palestinians and Muslims. But Islam washes its hands from such brutal act. Moreover, International activists who visit Gaza have always felt the warmth of the Palestinian hospitality. This will never change, the only threat the Palestinians and these activists share is the threat of the Israeli occupation.

Vittorio arrigoni holding a palestinian flag

Vittorio Arrigoni holding a Palestinian flag (profile picture from Facebook)

Also in Gaza, Omar Ghraieb gives an account of how the news of the kidnapping and murder unfolded, and ends:

Vittorio was Italian by birth but his dedication to Palestine and Gaza made him no less Palestinian than any other Palestinian, he came to Gaza many times and live here for a while. He endangered his life numerous times while working as a volunteer with the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) in Gaza when he was trying to protect farmers and fisherman, in addition to his participation in all buffer-zone protests.
Vittorio meant a lot for Palestinians, Gazans and his friends everywhere. He is a huge loss for us all, may he rest in peace.

Eva Bartlett worked with Arrigoni in Gaza:

I first heard of Vik before arriving in Gaza. Vik had just been injured by the IOF [Israel Occupation Forces/Israel Defense Forces] water canon attack which shattered the windows of the fishing boat he was accompanying. Vik had some injuries from the shattered glass. […] He was taken from Gaza, briefly, by the IOF navy, when they kidnapped 15 Palestinian fishermen and 3 accompanying activists, including Vik, in November 2008, from Palestinian waters. At the time of his abduction, he was electrically shocked while peacefully avoiding abduction by diving into Gaza’s cold waters.

He returned to Gaza, via Free Gaza again, before Israel began its war on Gaza. He continued to write and report from the enclosed, bombed Strip.

Stay human, he always said. And so was the title of his book on the Israeli massacre of Gaza in 2008-2009. Stay human. […] During the Israeli war on Gaza, we all worked together, riding in ambulances, documenting the martyred and the wounded, the vast majority (over 83%) civilian. Vik was always on the phone, Italian media taking his words and printing them for the public to see. […] He was there to joke with us, to counsel us, to smoke shisha by the sea…He wrote the truth, spoke the truth, stayed human.

Another fellow activist, Ken O’Keefe, has made this video, with footage from the press conference announcing Arrigoni’s death.

Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions knew Arrigoni well:

Vik was truly a person greater than life. He was so filled with energy, a mixture of joy, camaraderie and impatience with the confines of boats and prisons like Gaza, that he would suddenly lift you into the air, or wrestle with you – he was a big, strong, handsome guy, ebullient and smiling even in the most oppressive and dangerous situations – as if to tell you: Yalla! These Israel naval ships shooting at us and the Palestinian fisherman cannot prevail over our solidarity, outrage and the justice of our cause! (Vik was wounded in one of those confrontations). He would come up behind you and say: The Occupation will fall just like this! (and he would wrestle you to the ground, laughing and playing with you as he did).
Vik, who like me received Palestinian citizenship and a passport when we broke the siege of Gaza and sailed into Gaza port in August, 2008, was a peace-maker exemplar. […] Vik worked in the West Bank as well as Gaza, and was jailed three times before being expelled by Israel. But his peace work did not take the form of activism alone. Vik was a master of communication – physical, verbal, written (his blog, Guerrilla Radio, was one of the most popular in Italy) – and he mixed personal experiences, reportage and analysis effortlessly.

Vik was what we call a “witness”: someone who put himself physically with the oppressed and shared with them their triumphs, tragedies, sufferings and hopes. Yet he was one who through his actions tried to affect genuine change. […] I’ll miss you, man. But every time I feel tired or discouraged, I’ll feel you lifting me up over your head and, with your huge smile and laughter, threatening to throw me overboard if I even hesitate in throwing myself into the fight. You were and are the earth-force of the struggle against injustice.

Global Voices contributor Asteris Masouras has aggregated tweets about this news on Storify which you can find here.

During the Gaza war of 2008/9 Global Voices translated and quoted extensively from Vittorio Arrigoni's blog posts. To read them click here.

April 14 2011

Palestine: Kidnapping of Italian Activist in Gaza

Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was kidnapped today in Gaza by a Salafi-Jihadi group, who say they will kill him if Sheikh Abu Al Waleed Al Maqdisi, recently arrested by the Hamas government, is not released.

Vittorio arrigoni

Vittorio Arrigoni (profile picture from Facebook)

Arrigoni - known as Vik - has been in Gaza for over two years with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). (See this Global Voices post about him.) Gaza blogger Omar Ghraieb writes that Arrigoni's kidnappers are threatening to kill him:

Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, ISM volunteer in Gaza, was kidnapped earlier today in Gaza city. Later, a youtube video surfaced showing Vittorio blindfolded and beaten up.

Salafi Jehadis claimed the responsibility of kidnapping and abducting him asking Hamas government in Gaza to release Abu Al Waleed Al Maqdisi in 30 hours starting from 11 am today 14\4\2011 or else they would kill him.

All journos in Gaza, Vittorio's friends here and his friends everywhere ask Hamas to immediately intervene and release Vittorio who worked hard to help Gaza for a long time.

Please let's all pray for his safe release.

This is the video Arrigoni's kidnappers released:

Some reactions to the kidnapping on Twitter:

@SanaKassem To all Gazans. A great supporter of the Palestinian struggle, #Vittorio Arrigoni, has been kidnapped in #Gaza. He needs your support.

@Omar_Gaza Hamas we ask you to immediately intervene and release Vittorio Arrigoni now, Italian ISM worker! #Gaza #FreeVittorioNow

@jmalsin Stunned, sickened, after seeing the video of what salafists claim is a captive Vittorio Arrigoni, who I met several times in Gaza.

@forumeditor Why kidnap Vittorio Arrigoni who's trying to help the their own cause? His abductors r disgusting: anyone's fair game so they get publicity.

Vittorio Arrigoni's Facebook page is here.

April 13 2011

Syria Comment » Archives » SYRIA’S PRESIDENT ASSAD: WHY IS ANYONE SURPRISED?” by Brian J. Davis, Canadian Ambassador to Syria, 2003-2006uesd | 2011-04-12

Something that is sometimes forgotten is that neither Assad nor any of his closest confidantes (other than his wife) have real experience living in open, successful societies. They are a very inward group, interested in their own survival, in enjoying a luxurious and quasi-feudal lifestyle, and in furthering their wealth and power. They are not equipped to provide Assad with advice based on true understanding of how open economies and societies work or how to succeed in a global economy. One way or another, virtually every close advisor brought on board with international knowledge and experience has been undermined by the clique and fallen by the way side. I can remember long personal discussions with three such people, who were themselves often bewildered by the close-minded responses they got to suggestions and advice they put forward. Thus, while Assad genuinely wishes to see the Syrian economy grow, he does not really know how to make it happen.

As an example, in meetings with Assad and some of his senior advisors and ministers, I had discussions about the importance of the “rule of law“ to economic development. I often asked: what company will invest millions of dollars to establish operations in Syria, if it cannot be confident that the legal system will treat it fairly when the inevitable disputes arise? It was obvious in those kinds of discussions that while everyone nodded their heads in agreement, there was little true understanding of the implications. Nor was there any serious effort to consider how the legal system, as just one example of an area badly in need of reform, might be revamped to create a key underpinning for attracting foreign investment.

part 2/2 - excerpts

Permalink | Leave a comment  »

Syria Comment » Archives » SYRIA’S PRESIDENT ASSAD: WHY IS ANYONE SURPRISED?” by Brian J. Davis, Canadian Ambassador to Syria, 2003-2006uesd | 2011-04-12

Assad is a cautious, conservative leader. While he has slowly acquired the knowledge and skills of a President since assuming that mantle upon the death of his father in 2000, he lacks the natural instinctive talents of a leader. He is not the kind of person who will take risks or be creative. He likes to take his time to study an issue and he is particularly fond of placing these into a logical framework of cause and effect.

As for being a “reformer”, too much is made of his time as a student in the UK. He was there for a very short time and was cocooned in the expatriate Arab community. He did not immerse himself in genuine every day British or European life that would have exposed him to democracy, freedoms and the exercise of civil rights. Indeed, his formative years were spent under the family tree. Using a tired but, in this case, appropriate aphorism, he is an apple who has not fallen far from that tree. Assad is not a cosmopolite and expectations that he would be the “reformer” are simply misplaced.

Bashar Assad is a decent, intelligent man but without particular charisma or strategic brilliance. I believe he genuinely wants to be a popular president. He and his wife have made strides in this regard. They have been far more visible to the common Syrian, trying to demonstrate a human touch by dining publicly in restaurants, driving their own cars, and making more public appearances than his father. He took a lively interest in information technology even before becoming president and has continued to nurture this sector, striking a responsive chord with the Syrian youth.

Because he is perceived to have stood up to the U.S. (with regard to Iraq) and to Israel (through his support for Hezbollah and Hamas), he has achieved considerable popularity on the “Arab street” across the region. This distinguishes him from President Mubarak of Egypt and President Ben Ali of Tunisia, who were seen to have aligned themselves with western powers, rather than fighting for the rights of Arabs, especially those of Palestinians. It remains to be seen if that popularity will endure, given his efforts to smother the current wave of demands for more freedoms being made to him.

part 1/2 - excerpts

Permalink | Leave a comment  »

02mydafsoup-01
02mydafsoup-01
02mydafsoup-01
Play fullscreen
YouTube - The Jenin Freedom Theatre Today!

yt-account donkeysaddle | Erstellt: 11.11.2010

Produced by the Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre in NYC, this video provides an overview of the work being done at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, West Bank, Palestine. The Freedom Theatre grew out of the documentary film, "Arna's Children." For more information: www.thefreedomtheatre.org

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remembering Juliano Mer-Khamis | www.3quarksdaily.com 2011-04-12

Ismail Khalidi and Jen Marlowe in The Nation:

Mer%20Khamis

In 2006, the new Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp held an art competition.

“Don’t just go for the tanks,” Juliano Mer-Khamis, the co-founder of the theater, told the children-artists. “Hope. Where is the hope?”

A 12-year-old girl named Wafaa painted a mother pulling her son out of the ruins of a demolished home. Juliano gently admonished the young student, reminding her that the painting should represent hope.

“But there’s this red flower,” the girl said, pointing to a splash of color next to the rubble. “There.”

“I almost cried,” Juliano recounted. “So…hope is there. We have to pour water, pour water, pour water. And that’s what we do here.”

That hope was badly shattered on Monday, April 4, when Juliano was shot dead by a masked gunman outside the Freedom Theatre.

Juliano, the child of a Jewish Israeli mother and Palestinian Christian father, both communists, co-founded the Freedom Theatre as an outgrowth of his 2004 documentary film, Arna’s Children. The film depicts the art and theater program that his mother, Arna, established for children in the Jenin Refugee Camp during the first intifada. Juliano returns to the camp after the massive Israeli invasion of 2002, during the second intifada, when large swaths of it were bulldozed by the Israeli army. He wants to know: what became of the children from his mother’s program? Nearly all of them, he discovers, are dead.

More here.  The Jenin Freedom Theatre Today:

Posted by Abbas Raza at 07:29 AM


April 07 2011

02mydafsoup-01
Revolution

Waking the Lion | Vanity Fair


201104

Turning his camera on Egypt’s 18-day miracle, Jonas Fredwall Karlsson captures face-to-face the thrilling, tech-savvy tide that drew all eyes to Tahrir Square, swept away Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule, and set off similar protests across the Middle East. Ron Beinner reports, while Henry Porter dissects the protesters’ world-altering triumph: an anger that defied death, the ingenuity that stymied a brutal police state, and a sense of freedom that will never be lost.



Freedom Fighter

WAEL GHONIM, 30, ON THE ROOF OF HIS HOME, IN GIZA.
The uprising started off leaderless. But in the whirling days of winter, it swiftly anointed a figurehead: Google executive Wael Ghonim. Back in June, the father of two had created a defiant Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said” (see slide 4), after seeing images of an Alexandria businessman’s disfigured corpse—the result of a vicious assault by Egyptian authorities, part of a regime that for years had used blunt force to silence critics. Ghonim’s ammunition for his campaign against state-security abuses: a stream of photos, videos, news—and a summons to his nearly 400,000 Facebook followers to attend a Cairo protest on January 25, in what amounted to a pre-announced revolt. Two days later, Ghonim was arrested and held for 12 days, at times blindfolded, handcuffed, and interrogated. Upon his release, he was hailed as the online hero of the movement. He went on to warn autocrats and dictators in neighboring nations in a 60 Minutes interview: “You should freak out. You seriously should freak out.” Ghonim insists that a single tweet he posted in February best summed up the cause: “Revolution 2.0: No one was a hero because everyone was a hero.”
Play fullscreen
The Libyan Intervention: Humanitarian or an Aggression?
Hamid Dabashi and Nader Hashemi debate the US/NATO intervention in Libya
Views: 210
12 ratings
Time: 24:24 More in News & Politics

April 04 2011

02mydafsoup-01
02mydafsoup-01
Play fullscreen
Protestors defy law making demands on military rulers

More on the Realnews Network on Egypt

Egyptians defy anti-protest law, demand accountability for Mubarak regime and release of jailed protesters
Views: 15
0 ratings
Time: 06:17 More in News & Politics

April 03 2011

Play fullscreen
Jihan Hafiz On Reporting From Libya

More on the Realnews Network on Libya

Recently returned from Bengazi, Hafiz reports on rebel fighters, supporters and early stages of the Libyan uprising
Views: 5
0 ratings
Time: 09:15 More in News & Politics

March 31 2011

« Là-bas si j'y suis » : avril 2011

Mercredi 30 mars, dans « Là-bas si j'y suis », à 15 heures, sur France Inter, Daniel Mermet s'entretenait avec l'équipe du Monde diplomatique autour du numéro d'avril. A propos de l'intervention en Libye, Serge Halimi rappelle que la décision d'entrée en guerre, suite à la prise de la résolution 1973 (...) / Amérique latine, Libye, Syrie, Agro-alimentaire, Monde arabe, Mouvement de contestation, Relations Nord-Sud, Relations internationales - La valise diplomatique

-------------------------------------------

jeudi 31 mars 2011

« Là-bas si j’y suis » : avril 2011  - Le monde diplomatique

Mercredi 30 mars, dans « Là-bas si j’y suis », à 15 heures, sur France Inter, Daniel Mermet s’entretenait avec l’équipe du Monde diplomatique autour du numéro d’avril.

A propos de l’intervention en Libye, Serge Halimi rappelle que la décision d’entrée en guerre, suite à la prise de la résolution 1973 du conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, s’est effectuée « sans consultation des partis, des opinions, des parlements ». Alain Gresh ajoutera qu’il aurait fallu ne pas attendre l’impasse [de Benghazi] pour intervenir sous d’autres formes et trouver des solutions.

Daniel Mermet mentionne alors l’article de George Corm, dans lequel l’auteur signale le risque de « l’accompagnement occidental », et s’interroge sur la sincérité de ce soutien. A ce propos, Alain Gresh évoque l’évidente situation problématique de pays occidentaux ayant soutenu pendant trente ans des dictatures aujourd’hui renversées, et qui tentent aujourd’hui d’orienter le mouvement dans un sens qui leur est favorable. « Nous sommes au tout début d’un processus qui va durer des années », souligne-t-il.

Renaud Lambert apporte des précisions sur la grille de lecture des événements en Libye utilisée par les pays d’Amérique Latine et notamment au Venezuela : selon lui, Hugo Chávez transpose – de manière erronée – son analyse géopolitique et historique de la situation latino-américaine au nord de l’Afrique.

La question du pétrole est abordée ensuite. Alain Gresh rappelle que le pétrole libyen, « à la veille de l’insurrection, est aux mains des Occidentaux », et que des accords historiques ont donné priorité aux compagnies américaines (voir l’article de Jean-Pierre Séréni).

Guillaume Pitron termine l’émission en présentant les usages et enjeux de la production de gomme arabique, sève très utilisée par l’industrie agro-alimentaire dont il a d’ailleurs apporté sur le plateau un échantillon.

Play fullscreen
Syria's President Offers Future Reforms, Blames Conspiracy for Protests
Joshua Landis: Most Syrians want deep political and economic reform but fear ethnic civil war

Time: 14:12 More in News & Politics

March 29 2011

Syria: Complexity behind the Protests

Written by Antoun Issa

Unrest in Syria enters its second week, as anti-government protests continue in their bid to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Death toll figures vary between 100 to 300, with hundreds more detained, after two weeks of clashes between protesters and security forces in Deraa, Latakia and other towns.

Syrian protesters have posted a large number of video clips on YouTube of the violent repression by Syrian security forces. Warning: Video contains graphic footage showing protesters shot in the head Here's one, uploaded by Islam1tv, showing protesters shot in the head.

More videos and information (Arabic) can be viewed on the Facebook page “Youth Syria for Freedom“.

The Damascus Bureau has created a list of those detained during the protests to ensure their plight is not forgotten.

Internal dynamics

Whilst it may seem that the unrest in Syria is a natural progression of the Arab revolution spreading throughout the region, there are unique dynamics in Syria that distinguish it from other Arab states.

Syria is a multi-confessional and ethnic state on similar lines as its troubled neighbours Iraq and Lebanon, with a history of sectarian violence.

The Assad regime belongs to the minority Alawite sect - an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam - who number roughly 15 per cent of the population. Christians and Kurds also form sizeable minorities, each constituting approximately 10%. The remaining majority are Sunni Arab.

Consequently, a sectarian undertone exists to the current crisis in Syria.

Late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, father of Bashar, infamously slaughtered thousands in the city of Hama in 1982 to crush a rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood.

With the exception of the Kurds, Syria's minorities generally favour Assad due to his secular political stance, and fear a potential Islamist emergence to power.

Syria expert and blogger at Syria Comment, Joshua Landis, has been covering the events and offers the following background:

The Dara’a protests prompted Alawites in the coastal city of Latakia to gather in large numbers in a central square, Dawwar az-Ziraa, to show support for their embattled President. Many have changed their Facebook profile images to a picture of Bashar. Syrian Christians and other religious minorities that together make up a further 13% of the Syrian population have also shown broad support for Assad, who has defended secularism. Many have worked themselves into a panic about the possibility that political upheaval will empower Islamists, as happened in Iraq. Almost 1 million Iraqi refugees live in Syria, their presence a cautionary tale of regime change that has gone wrong.

Key to a successful revolution is splitting Syria’s elites, which comprise the Alawite officer class of the security forces and the great Sunni merchant and industrial families, who preside over the economy as well as Syria’s moral and cultural universe. If those elites stick together, it is difficult to envisage widespread but scattered popular revolts overturning the regime. But an Alawite-Sunni split within the elites would doom the regime. The cohesion of those elites, though, is a question of social class as much as of confession.

The centrality of Dara’a in the uprising may have limited its appeal to the urban elites. The dusty border city marked by tribal loyalties, poverty and Islamic conservatism may inspire Syria’s rural masses who suffer from poverty, a prolonged drought and joblessness, but mass demonstrations there have frightened Syria’s urban elites. Even those who share anger at repressions and hope for liberation with their rural counterparts still fear the poor and the threat of disorder.

Counter demonstrations in support of Assad have been held in a number of Syrian cities, highlighting the anxiety of some minorities. Below is a YouTube clip of a pro-government rally in north east Syria, uploaded by ELIEELIAS187. It shows protesters chanting: “With our soul, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for Bashar”:

Landis received this eye-witness account from a German friend who attended the pro-Assad rally in Aleppo, disputing claims that anti-government protests were held in the city:

There was and still is a big demonstration in progress in Aleppo today (Friday 25th), pro-regime of course. There was apparently a small one of some 200-250 people early this morning, basically in support of the wage hikes announced yesterday, and around 12h30 a bigger one started brewing around Sa’d Allah al-Jabiri place, which just kept growing throughout the afternoon. Now (21h00 local) it’s spread out into the residential areas; Mogambo place is absolutely packed with people dancing and a band standing by. I’d send you pictures except that internet is so terribly slow that I can’t upload anything at home.

Obviously it’s orchestrated to some extent, the usual slogans, the usual underclass youths, the usual black leather clad security guys watching from a distance. But everyone we’ve talked to in the last weeks seems genuinely pro-regime, and now doubly so in light of the reform announcements. Guys I was watching Al Jazeera coverage of violence in Sanamayn today were only muttering “kazzab, kazzab” [lies, lies] under their breath.

The Kurds are of course a different matter; the Ashrafiyya and Shaykh Maqsud suburbs were completely sealed off last Monday (21st, Nawruz)–but that’s true every year and nothing special happened this year to my knowledge. Otherwise every one here that I’ve been able more or less to gauge is delighted over Egypt, Libya, you name it, but sees no parallel to Syria, invokes arguments you already know (Dera’a is being led by families with older antipathies to the Asads and allies of Khaddam), and wouldn’t remotely think of calling for Bashar’s removal.

On your blog today you mention reports of demonstrations in Aleppo, by which I understand are meant anti-regime demonstrations. Do you have more information on this, like where exactly they were? Certainly didn’t see anything and have trouble imagining it.

Another Syrian friend in Aleppo wrote to Landis stressing that President Assad enjoys significant support:

As an addendum to yesterday, I can certainly understand why a lot of Syrians are upset with foreign coverage of the crisis (going so far as to besiege the Al Jazeera studios in Damascus). The events in Deraa, Latakia and elsewhere are indeed critical and deserve wide attention.

But for maybe 90% of the Syrian population, the reality they are living is the sort of pro-regime support that was witnessed yesterday in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities. The festivities in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, lasted a good 12 hours and involved I would guess in the low tens of thousands of people–but this was not covered or even mentioned by a single news outlet that I have seen. This isn’t to say that all those people are diehard Bashar fans; it was a beautiful day Friday and there were many families out just to see what was going on. That these demonstrations are “organised by the regime” is kind of a cliché, however, seeing that any thinkable civil group involved (unions, youth clubs, etc.) is tied to the regime on some level; but “fabricated,” as a recent comment posted to your blog suggests, they most certainly are not.

Landis himself writes a detailed piece revealing a Syria dividing between pro and anti-government camps, with a silent majority yet to make its decision:

Syria is dividing into sides – those that will fight the state and those that support the president or fear revolution. The silent majority is still sitting on the side lines, but they will not be able to do so for long if order collapses. The army is sticking by the President, a main difference with Egypt or Tunisia. So long as the army remains united and obeys the President, it will be hard for the opposition to take over parts of the country or bring down the regime.

There were pro-Bashar demonstrations in many cities yesterday, such as Hassake, Homs, Latakia, Damascus in several places, and Aleppo, but there were equally anti-government demonstrations in a number of places, which are now increasingly calling for an end to the Baath Party and the fall of the regime – isqat al-nizaam. I have spoken or corresponded with people in Latakia, Aleppo and Damascus today. Aleppo and Damascus are calm. Latakia is not. The Republican Guard and the army have entered the city to end violence. The people were cheering them on from the balconies in the Sunni neighborhood, I am told.

My wife’s family in Latakia is divided over what is going on. Her mother claimed that although they had not been able to go down town, she insisted that she was very confident in the wisdom of the Syrians. She said they would never be dragged into civil war. She said that in most parts of the city yesterday, people had been out and about.

My brother-in-law, Firas, who lives in American, a Christian quarter near Shaykh Dahr, the downtown area where the demonstrations and shooting took place yesterday, has left the city with his Christian wife and children. He was very anxious when we spoke to him in Latakia this morning at his work place. He said that all the Sunnis who work in his company were saying that there were foreign Sunni elements in town that no one recognized. He believed that they were involved in the fighting yesterday in center city. A number of Syrian military and police were taken to the hospital, having been shot. Firas said that they did not have arms because they were not supposed to shoot at the demonstrators due to the President’s orders. The opposition had arms.

Pro-government people believe that there is an organized and armed opposition that came into town to start a fight and spread false rumors about Alawites from the Mountains coming into town to attack Sunnis, etc.

See the Facebook site:   بلدي حبيبي … ممنوع الفتنة …ويلو اللي يعادينا ؟ In order to see how people are talking about the “Mukharabiin,” the foreign intruders who no one recognizes in Latakia. They say that the unknown intruders entered both Sunni and Alawi neighborhoods and yelled about how the opposite sect was coming to destroy them and “burn them down.” They claim that there was an organized effort to stir up sectarian distrust and violence.

In Jableh, a mixed city just south of Latakia on the coast, there was a big demonstration made up of the entire city (`an bikrati abiiha) on Saturday night. They chanted: “wahid, wahid, wahid, Sunni wa Alawi wahid.” “One, one, one – Sunnis and Alawis are one. ”

Another Christian friend from Latakia – no relation – said that there was a much more organized opposition in town and a lot of sniper shots going on still. There is a fire at the prison, he said. He pooh-pooed the notion that a foreign element was in town, but said that the organized opposition was home grown.

The comments section of Landis' blog is indicative of the split and cynicism among Syrians. Whilst it may appear to the West that the protests in Syria are largely driven by pro-democratic ambitions, for Syria's minorities it is an anxious fear of an Islamist undercurrent.

SOURI said:

I read repeatedly on revolutionist websites calls from Wahhabis to the revolutionists to attack ammunition depots and steal them. Those Wahhabis are not peaceful demonstrators, they are attacking security, military, and government buildings. They have been burning Assad’s portrays. This is not peaceful demonstration, it is an organized Wahhabi-led rebellion.

The war time has not come yet since that the demonstrators remain too few. However, should the Islamists pour in large numbers into the streets, the war plan must be implemented without hesitation. No surrender. Surrender means the end of Syria, and the end of Alawis before anybody else.

This is not a “democracy revolution,” it is a sectarian insurgency launched by Wahhabis. This is what we have been saying all along and I am glad that some American diplomats have the courage to say things as they are.I just don’t agree with some of the details they mentioned, especially those related to the Kurds and their potential state.

Shami said:

Let them here leo ,Souri’s comments sound the same than to those of the regime.(and similar in one way or other to Dr Landis’s last comments)
The “’salafi,ekhwani,israeli,cia ,kurdish ,wahhabi’” plots of the regime do not work anymore .
They even used this trick when they killed their enemies like Sheykh al Khaznawi.

One commenter questioned the motives of detained Egyptian-American tweep @Battuta:

Solitarius said:

I’m surprised by those who go out of their way to claim that this Egyptian man is innocent (twitter acount: Battutta)

Being neutral and objective means just that.. it doesn’t mean that you should automatically side against the government just because it has a bad history. Really as Jad asked, what is an Egyptian American who passed by Israel doing in Syria taking pictures in times like these? I personally wouldn’t dare take pictures and go anywhere.. Hell even in normal circumstances i wouldn’t take any pictures if i’m close to any government, police or Baath building

clearly there are people who are over doing it in terms of their humanism to the point of being ridiculously naive. People wake up.. It’s that governments lie.. but governments also recruit people and send spies all the time.

Another lashed out at anti-government protesters for undermining the social fabric:

Jad said:

The anonymous rebels are now all defencive and talking about how good, intelligence, patriots and not sectarian they are and that everybody should trust them!
How about telling us and those young Syrians who paid their lives for their call of ‘who the hell are you’, what are you planning to do after destroying the social fabric of Syria and how and what are the ’saving’ plans you propose for poverty, corruption, unemployment, economy, policies (domestic and international) and how are you going to free Jolan?!
They also sound a bit desperate and begging everybody to send Aljazeera millions and billions and zillions of messages.
I guess if they stop spreading sectarian language, be honest and have welcoming national and rational language and have names, ‘maybe’ they will convince more people otherwise what they are doing is using the blood of Syrians for keeping the violence circle running full speed.

An Israeli commenter argued that Israel also fears the emergence of an Islamist state should anti-government protests succeed, oddly placing Tel Aviv in support of its old foe Assad:

Shai said:

It really does amaze me how dependent some people are on Israel. How even now, when the Arab World is experiencing an awakening never before seen in the history of the region, Israel has some “role” to play in all this. Every development in the region, according to some, is a function of Israel.

While Israel does indeed more closely resemble KSA and Iran than Syria, I can assure you that neither are deemed “friends”. Those same Wahhabis in KSA preach far worse against Jews (not Israelis) than any Syrian ever could. They are far more dangerous to us Jews in the region and worldwide, than any Mufti in the secular-Arab world.

Syria is at a crossroads, with high stakes for regional stability. Anti-government protests appear to be polarising the country, with many - including regional powers - fearing the lingering presence of the Muslim Brotherhood. All the more reason why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has opted to stay out of this potential revolution, labeling Assad a “reformer”.

Reposted bysbsm sbsm

March 28 2011

March 25 2011

02mydafsoup-01
    
MAGHREB - ARAB WORLD - MIDDLE EAST

a youtube video playlist compilation

newest videos started by 2011-02-26,
with latest news and commentaries 
concerning the protest movement in the Maghreb & Middle East region from different sources: AFP, Al Jazeera, Euronews, RT, France 24, TRNN, etc.

languages: EN, FR, DE

-------------------------------------------------------

Playlist - youtube permalink
SOUP.IO - PERMALINK


further postings of this playlist and entries directly
or inderectly interconnected to that subject see also -

tag:
compil_arwrld2011

             

March 24 2011

Et demain, l'Iran ?

Les balles qui tuent peuvent être chiites ou sunnites, modérées ou radicales, pro-occidentales ou « anti-impérialistes ». Les populations qui meurent, aussi. Mais les régimes qui tirent se ressemblent. / Égypte, Iran, Israël, Libye, Palestine, Répression - (...) / Égypte, Iran, Israël, Libye, Palestine, Répression - 2011/03
Reposted byiranelection iranelection
Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl