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Counting the cost: fewer deaths as Syrians protest

May 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Politics

Another Friday, another day of demonstrations across Syria.

But unlike in previous weeks, the death toll was significantly lower (it has been falling week-on-week since April). Reports of six deaths make this the quietest Friday since March. It came a day after the president’s spokeswoman Buthaina Shaaban promised an opposition leader that the security services would not fire on protestors. As I said on Thursday, the real test would be whether the authorities stuck to that. Surprisingly, in most cases they did.

After the protests, Shaaban admitted the protestors were unarmed, in contrast to recent accusations of armed gangs. She told the Washington Post:

Protesters went to the streets around the country and protested by peaceful means.

State TV seems to have had a slight change of heart too, airing footage of some of the demonstrations, and acknowledging that the protestors were calling for “freedom”.

Sami Moubayed, an independent journalist and academic who is considered relatively pro-regime also called for an end to the killings and immediate reforms. That in itself is a telling development.

The reforms needed include ending one-party rule, clamping down on corruption, releasing political prisoners, starting a national dialogue, and doing away with Article 8, which designates the ruling Ba’ath Party as “leader of state and society”.

To do that, however, the violence must end and the reforms need to start immediately. Ending demonstrations with no reforms will simply bring Syria back to square one. Real reforms while demonstrations are still mushrooming in different parts of Syria, will also not work. No reforms whatsoever will be catastrophic for Syria, both internally and within the international community – and nobody knows that better than the Syrians themselves.

Shaaban says a national dialogue is under way and will continue next week. Some opposition leaders are taking part including Louay al-Husein (no doubt some expat rabble-rousers will stop at nothing less than state collapse, refusing any attempts at solving this peacefully).

All of this is a cause for guarded optimism.

But there is still a long way to go. The UN says at least 700 people have died in the violence. The Red Cross says hundreds, possibly thousands of people are still being detained. Journalists are still not allowed into the country. And the 3G mobile phone data network is still switched off across the whole of Syria.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 isam atasi // May 19, 2011 at 10.10 am

    Can not be to the regime of Bashar al-Assad to continue and for a number of reasons, which is that this system is illegal and came through a military coup, not the election of the people, this system the rule of the Syrian people with iron and fire and torture and terror security since its inception and to this day, this system deepens, the corruption in various areas causing major disasters on the Syrian people can not be mentioned, the system specialized in lying and fabrication of events since its inception, starting from the front falsehood and deception, called the front stand and addressed and the objection and the right front is submission and receipt of strikes Israel successive without moving the residents and keeping Israel’s security in the occupied Golan, and ending operations of lies and deceit and deception, as in a shield the beginning of events when fabricating the existence of extremist groups and weapons and money in the Mosque of Omar, the presence of Salafi groups and infiltrators, and criminal gangs terrorize the Syrian citizens in the rest of the cities and villages of Syria and What is this Avtroh of lies and disinformation were not only the gang’s security system, the Syrian Baathist led by Maher al-Assad and committed all the massacres and inhuman practices against the Syrian people in their cities and villages and still to this moment, so on this system to leave immediately for the rule of Syria’s land and people and there is no room for any negotiation or reform that system simply because it is based on hostility to all reform, and its motto of corruption and oppression and intimidation only.

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