Powered by WebAds

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Bashar al-Assad doesn't want you to see

The Assad regime has been doing all it can to prevent Western journalists from making their way into Syria. Last week, a reporter for London's Daily Telegraph made it in. It's perhaps indicative of just how sensitive the situation is that his (her?) report was filed anonymously. He filmed this video of a protest in Hama.

Let's go to the videotape.

And here's a small part of his report.
The Sunday Telegraph secretly visited Hama during a week-long undercover journey around a nation in revolt - a journey which showed how tenuous government control has become, despite a crackdown that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since March.

Using pseudonyms, booking diversionary journeys, slipping quietly into blockaded towns and hiding with protesters, The Sunday Telegraph criss-crossed the nation and witnessed a Syria of "freed" towns, vast anti-regime demonstrations, violent melees and angry gunfights.

It is the Syria that President Assad wants no one see, and it is the reason why he has sought to arrest, censor or ban foreign journalists.

Hama, Syria's fourth city, has become a vital battlefield. The scars can still be seen from the brutal aftermath of the 1982 clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and the regime of Hafez al-Assad.

Within minutes of noticing a foreigner, residents began to boast of the impending fall of the regime.

A butcher, Omar was brimming with pride as he explained why. "Look around, the government is finished in Hama," he said. "The army came here and they killed many and they stole. But we kept coming out. No matter how many times the army comes, we'll never give in now."

A young man approached, his eyes shining with excitement, and lifted his shirt to display the large knife he was carrying, tucked inside the belt of his trousers, "in case the army comes back". His gesture was all the more striking because it took place in front of the town's police station.

Elsewhere men gravitated, seemingly instinctively, towards the renowned clock tower that stands in the city's central square, and within 10 minutes some 10,000 had gathered, many carrying Syrian flags, for that day's protests. Many warned that as a westerner I would be targeted by the government snipers thought to be lying on the roof tops, but none seemed concerned on their own behalf and in fact there was no shooting.

Soon three separate columns of marchers were pouring into the square, and it was if half the city was out on the streets, young and old, male and female. A group of women in jet-black burkas sang revolutionary songs. Others, some with their heads covered, some not, chimed in from the crowd.

"This Assad family are murderers and criminals," said one resident, filled with emotion at the chance to tell his story to a foreign observer. "Tell everyone: the people of Hama say that this regime is finished."

It was a message that I heard repeatedly as I travelled across Syria, sometimes to places where it seemed the regime had completely abandoned any effort to keep control.
Read the whole thing.

I don't know who will take over in Syria. Unfortunately, the odds are high that whoever takes over will be Islamist, anti-Israel and anti-American. But at least they won't be Bashar al-Assad. I'm not convinced that it could be any worse for the Jews or for Israel to have Assad out of power. I would love to be convinced that it will be better.

What could go wrong?

Labels: ,


At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's the last song I'll ever write for you ...."

At 12:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

A Syrian regime that isn't Baath may not love Israel but it won't back Hezbollah and it will cut ties with Iran. Israel's strategic position can only improve. And the fall of the Assad dictatorship will only encourage embattled pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran. No dictatorship is invincible.

At 1:04 AM, Blogger shmuly&esty said...

this is crazy "Assad you are a agent of the US" what does that mean. Who are these protesters and what do they want. Why are we supporting them if they hate us?!?!?


Post a Comment

<< Home