As well as the sanctions, the other news is that the ‘general strike’ called for today has, by all indications, failed entirely.
This was the first real test of the opposition’s reach. Could it convince the silent-middle to stay at home, a relatively safe form of protest? It seems not.
And that would stand up what some commentators have been saying about this uprising. Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, there is no critical mass. There is a hard-core of people who want the fall of the regime, and a hard-core who love the government. The rest just want both sides to shutup and let the economy open up again.
Martin Fletcher, a Times (UK) reporter who sneaked into Syria said:
It’s a very complicated story. There’s a lot of anger at the government but there’s a lot of anger at the protestors. Assad still has quite a lot of support in Syria and a lot of people think the protestors are disrupting normal life, they simply want this to be over. One diplomat said to me that about 20% of the population love Assad, about 15% hate him, and all the rest just want this to be over. It’s not as simple a story as it’s sometimes portrayed as in the outside world.
While Victor Kotsev, writing in the Asia Times today, says something similar:
It is not clear that the middle ground – a sizeable number of people who do not buy completely into either (protestor or government) narratives – has been destroyed completely yet. This, by the way, is a very important sign to watch for.
Just one thought to leave you with. How will the protestors react to the US sanctions. Do they even care? Or will they fly American flags on Friday and further alienate other Syrians?