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Thread: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

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    Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Thousands of demonstrators have marched through the southern Syrian city of Deraa calling for greater freedoms.

    The march follows the funeral of a man killed on Sunday, when security forces opened fire on protesters.

    The demonstrators had set fire to buildings including the offices of the country's ruling Baath Party.

    BBC News - Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa
    Looks like Bashir Assad may be the next autocrat on the chopping block. Yes, he's brutal, and yes, he'll try to crush the protests just like every other Arab leader. But I don't think he's a Gaddafi. He doesn't have it in him to kill thousands upon thousands of people, and doesn't enjoy nearly as much popular support as his father did.
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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Looks like Bashir Assad may be the next autocrat on the chopping block. Yes, he's brutal, and yes, he'll try to crush the protests just like every other Arab leader. But I don't think he's a Gaddafi. He doesn't have it in him to kill thousands upon thousands of people...
    I don't agree at all. Bashar is a ruthless tyrant even as his rhetoric sometimes masks that reality. One should not be fooled by his Western post-graduate studies, any more than one should have been persuaded by Saif Gadhafi's Western graduate studies, that these individuals are moderate leaders. They are not. Assadi's idea of moderation is to offer moderate rhetoric, even as the underlying substance of his policies remains largely unchanged.

    When he first took power in Syria, the media was seduced by his seemingly moderate rhetoric. Some pundits actually believed he would be a reformer, perhaps because they transposed their own hopes of a younger popular leader on him.

    The reality has been starkly different. Syria continues to arm Hezbollah. Syria pursued an illicit nuclear program. The Syria-Iran axis has grown tighter. Syria's human rights record is horrendous.

    Neither he nor his Alawite minority government will yield control. They will use such force as is necessary to retain power and, if necessary, invite Iran to help out. Bottom line: Mr. Assad is going nowhere anytime soon.
    Last edited by donsutherland1; 03-21-11 at 04:37 PM.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I don't agree at all. Bashar is a ruthless tyrant even as his rhetoric sometimes masks that reality. One should not be fooled by his Western post-graduate studies, any more than one should have been persuaded by Saif Gadhafi's Western graduate studies, that these individuals are moderate leaders. They are not. Assadi's idea of moderation is to offer moderate rhetoric, even as the underlying substance of his policies remains largely unchanged.
    Well, all Arab leaders including Assad are dictators. But Gaddafi was a special breed of tyrant, more akin to Saddam Hussein. I don't think there's anyone else in the Arab world who fits that description, except Omar Bashir in the Sudan. I don't think anyone else in the Middle East has the capability of murdering thousands of their own citizens.

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1
    When he first took power in Syria, the media was seduced by his seemingly moderate rhetoric. Some pundits actually believed he would be a reformer, perhaps because they transposed their own hopes of a younger popular leader on him.

    The reality has been starkly different. Syria continues to arm Hezbollah. Syria pursued an illicit nuclear program. The Syria-Iran axis has grown tighter. Syria's human rights record is horrendous.
    I'm not arguing that he's a saint. But I do not think one can assume that just because he's anti-American that he's considerably worse than most of the other Arab leaders in terms of human rights. Look at the response in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. They've beat up protesters, killed a few, and ultimately lost their nerve and flaked out. Syria's human rights record is bad, but is it so much worse than any of those places? In Libya, I think the answer is definitely yes, Gaddafi's human rights record truly WAS worse than those others. I don't think it's so clear-cut in Syria.

    In terms of personality and temperament, Assad has a lot more in common with Ben Ali and Mubarak than he does with Gaddafi. He's a standard-issue bumbling strongman, not an insane megalomaniac.

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1
    Neither he nor his Alawite minority government will yield control. They will use such force as is necessary to retain power and, if necessary, invite Iran to help out. Bottom line: Mr. Assad is going nowhere anytime soon.
    Iran has problems of its own that it needs to worry about. I doubt they're going to be too keen to get involved in a Syrian misadventure right now.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 03-21-11 at 05:28 PM.
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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    The real question is exactly how much is Bashir like his father. The last revolt in Syria was put down by obliterating an entire rebel city in under a month. Bashir isn't a nice guy, but it takes a special kind of bastard to commit slaughter en-mass. I'd bet more on low-level violence combined with power brokering than massacres. Iranian intervention is unlikely as they have little to gain and risk opening the doors to other nations getting involved.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Lets face reality. It is kind of silly in my book to rate the Tyrants do we use a bell curve or just assign the a letter from A to F?

    Any tyrannical leader of any degree needs to go, even if it's a so-called King or Prince. This day and age we are past that era.

    Even England gave up the Royalty except for show and a bit of Pomp and Circumstance now and then.

    I would be happy to see the Palestinians rise up and end the violence because they could do better if they stopped poking at Israel as a child does with a bear of caged big cat.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I don't think anyone else in the Middle East has the capability of murdering thousands of their own citizens.
    The ruling Bashar family killed between 15,000-20,000 in the city of Hama to suppress a challenge by the Muslim Brotherhood.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Well, all Arab leaders including Assad are dictators. But Gaddafi was a special breed of tyrant, more akin to Saddam Hussein. I don't think there's anyone else in the Arab world who fits that description, except Omar Bashir in the Sudan. I don't think anyone else in the Middle East has the capability of murdering thousands of their own citizens.
    Bashar's not so different from his father, and his father is responsible for "the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East".

    I don't know what makes you say that he's any better than Gaddafi. I would argue that he's far worse.
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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Tashah View Post
    The ruling Bashar family killed between 15,000-20,000 in the city of Hama to suppress a challenge by the Muslim Brotherhood.
    The actual estimation is between 17,000 and 40,000.
    "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    But I do not think one can assume that just because he's anti-American that he's considerably worse than most of the other Arab leaders in terms of human rights.
    Tyrants can be pro-American or anti-American. Their position vis-a-vis the U.S. has no bearing on their nature.

    Iran has problems of its own that it needs to worry about. I doubt they're going to be too keen to get involved in a Syrian misadventure right now.
    Of course, Iran would very likely wish to avoid any intervention in Syria. But I suspect that if Iran faced a choice of seeing the Assad dictatorship driven from power without its intervention or remaining on the sidelines, it would intervene to the extent necessary to sustain its allied government. Iran is a skillful practioner of realpolitik. One can be certain that Iran would act in what it perceives to be its interests. It would be very unlikely to write off a dependable ally, especially at a time when it has few allies who are as dependable or useful as Syria.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    As perhaps a small foretaste of what would await if a serious challenge to the Assad dictatorship were mounted, Syrian authorities opened fire on protesters in Deraa. Although the government made an attempt at plausible denial by blaming an "armed gang," the fact that the power and telephone service was cut to the area ahead of the violence (something only possible by the authorities) makes clear who was responsible.

    From the BBC:

    At least five people have died after security forces fired on protesters outside a mosque in the Syrian city of Deraa, human rights activists say...

    Last edited by donsutherland1; 03-23-11 at 10:11 AM.

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