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Ear to the Ground

Cops Disperse Syrian Funeral for Protesters

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Posted on Mar 20, 2011
AP / Hossam Ali

Protesters in Egypt opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime carry anti-government banners Tuesday, days before the deadly events in Syria would unfold.

A crowd of 20,000 people at a funeral for six slain protesters in the southern Syrian town of Dara’a was dispersed by police with tear gas and truncheons Saturday.

Anti-government protests broke out in four Syrian cities Friday. —JCL

The New York Times:

More than 20,000 people marched Saturday in the southern Syrian town of Dara’a in funerals for protesters killed in demonstrations the day before, and the police used truncheons and tear gas to disperse the mourners.

Protests broke out in four cities on Friday, a rare event in a police state that brutally represses dissent. At the largest one, a march of several thousand people in Dara’a, a police crackdown killed six people.

The funeral procession on Saturday became a protest in its own right, with marchers calling for more freedoms and an end to Syria’s longstanding emergency law, witnesses said. They chanted, “The people want an end to corruption,” and, “The blood of our martyrs won’t be forgotten.” They repeated the demands made in the march on Friday: that the mayor and a local security chief should be fired for their role in arresting of a group of children two weeks ago for writing protest graffiti.

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doughboy's avatar

By doughboy, March 21, 2011 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

On the surface, it would appear that Basher’s regime is in trouble. However,
there are other reports not being published in the NYT that indicates the
situation in Syria is far more complex. Dara’a smacks more of tribal elements
than a ground swell against Assad. Judging by the signs in other places and the
chants, there is no consistency. There appears to be no unified voice. The
desire for change is there, but what that change should be is murky. In the
1990s, the neocons had drawn up a game plan for a Middle East that would
splinter along ethnic, religious, and tribal grounds. There star success is Iraq.
Lebanon is another example of this divisional goal. Syria would also lend itself
to this as the majority Sunni population vs the minority Alawites. Add to this
tribal areas like the Golan Heights and the Dara’a region, and the Kurdish
element in eastern Syria, and the neocons can create a perfect storm. What has
not been thought out is the successor to the present authoritarian regime. The
late 1940s, all of the 1950s and the early 1960s saw Syria in turmoil. Regime
changes and coup d’etats were so common that in some years the governments
in Damascus could be measured in weeks. In addition to this internal strife,
outside forces used money, agents, clandestine actions, and intimidation to
overthrow one leadership for another. Hafiz Assad changed that. The fall of his
son may return Syria to those decades of violence and uncertainty. As the
neocons concern is solely about Israeli dominance in the area, they may want to
consider how secure Israel will be if the Muslim Brotherhood, which a concerted
effort to against Hafiz, comes to power? If “radical Islam” is the bogeyman to
the conservatives, how is the destruction of an essentially secular government
in Damascus going to help Israel of the US?

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