In Syria it is the Friday of God is with us

The Friday of God is With Us – is underway in Syria and from some of the reports, the Syrians need God’s help.  This week, the hot spot in the Middle East is Syria; reports from inside Syria are scarce – no outside media is allowed to cover the unrest; but the number of protesters is said to be growing, as is the list of the dead, killed by the security forces.  Assad’s government claimed today to be gaining control and defeating the rebels – the “armed, terrorist gangs”; the dissidents claim to be gaining in numbers and influence.  Other countries are increasing their level of criticism and sanctions, even Russia has condemned Assad’s government and tactics, although Russia refuses to sanction sanctions; Turkey and Saudi Arabia have called for change, Kuwaitis demonstrated against the Syrian ambassador and the Muslim Brotherhood called of a demonstration of solidarity with the people of Syria; Iran is said to be pressuring Iraq to help Assad. But Assad is not listening to anyone but friends and at the moment Assad has very few friends except Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran.  Thus far Ramadan does not seem to have lessened the violence, tension or protests; given the events in Tunisia and Egypt, it is difficult to imagine Assad steeping aside, although a new multi-party system was declared this week.

In Egypt, the streets are apparently as empty and quiet as this picture from Hama, Syria.  No major protest or demonstration took place in Tahrir today, instead the army drove a small group of 150 people from the square.  The police said they were ruffians, the people said they are just ordinary families breaking their fast in the traditional fashion; they also said after Ramadan the demonstrations would return with renewed force.   The government was still active this week responding to previous protests – the trial of Mubarak has started, 11 new governors were appointed and the official labor union of the Mubarak regime was disbanded.  The union – actually a confederation of unions, Egyptian Trade Union Federation –  was formed right after the Nasser took power and for 60 years was used to control worker protests by keeping all labor movements within the government.  Disbanding the federation was one of the demands of the workers over the past few months of protests in Tahrir Square. The coming election is starting to gain more attention in the media; the Muslim Brotherhood publishes a few stories a week on its stand, the process and the issues as the Brotherhood sees them.  The Guardian had an article on one of the most surprising of recent developments – a woman who is going to run for the presidency.  Bothaina Kamel is a celebrity broadcaster; she is not thought to have a chance, but just by running she is demonstrating the depth of change that is taking place in Egypt.  Egyptians are being treated to some of the things people in Syria are demanding, but for Assad that is the problem – he does not want to be treated to Mubarak’s fate.


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August 2011
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