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Monday, March 21, 2011

Protests In Syria: And So It Begins?

Of course, that doesn't mean it will continue--not if Assad has anything to say about it, and considering the Hama massacre that occurred under his father, Hafez Assad, the protesters are taking a major risk.

So on the one hand, we have see 3 days of protests in Syria:
Crowds set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party in the Syrian city of Deraa on Sunday, residents said, as the wave of unrest in the Arab world shook even one of its most authoritarian states.


The demonstrators also set ablaze the main courts complex and two phone company branches. One of the firms, Syriatel, is owned by President Bashar al-Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf.

"They burned the symbols of oppression and corruption," an activist said. "The banks nearby were not touched."

Earlier, Syrian security forces killed a protester in Deraa, residents said, as the authorities tried to contain three days of protests demanding freedoms and the release of political prisoners.
However, the Syrian crackdown on the protests has already begun:
Syrian police sealed off a southern city Saturday after security forces killed at least five protesters there in the first sign that the Arab world’s pro-democracy push is seeping into one of the region’s most repressive places.

Residents of Daraa were being allowed to leave but not enter the city on Saturday, said prominent Syrian rights activist Mazen Darwish. The quick cordon seemed aimed at choking off any spread of unrest after Friday’s clashes and emotional funeral processions for the dead on Saturday.

President Bashar Assad, who has boasted that his country is immune to the cries for change that have already toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, sent a delegation to the southern city to offer his condolences to families of the victims, according to a Syrian official.
If Assad is going so far as to offer condolences to families, it may be that he realizes that this wave of protests is different, and that just shooting them alone will only exacerbate the situation.

Still, with the relative calm in Iran, the situation in Syria will bear watching to see if this wave of unrest has legs in one of the most repressive regimes in the Muslim world, and can further energize efforts elsewhere.

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