By John Ballard
Syria is proving to be the toughest nut to crack in the Arab Spring.
Blood is literally flowing in the streets.
As the world watches in horror, another dictator is killing those who oppose him with a savagery not usually supported by world powers. But in this case a protective diplomatic buffer on the part of a few big players enables Assad's forces to continue their murderous crackdown.
?The Syria Conundrum by Greg Djerejian (Belgravia Dispatch)
Djerejian doesn't write much lately but when he does it's worth reading.
The stench of death rising daily from Homs is an indelible black mark on Bashar, and were there even a smidgen of legitimacy left the regime could pretend to enjoy, this increasingly crude campaign has eradicated any semblance of same. One must add to this gory list documented use of torture (including against children), use of fragmentation mortar devices without warning, mass executions, among other horrific fare documented in a recent U.N. report. Indeed, it is manifestly clear that despite rosy optics around his ophthalmologist background, his attractive British-born JP Morgan alumnus wife, and such Knightsbridge style trappings�the man has now been nakedly revealed to be nothing more than a mass-murdering thug--happy to visit such horrors on his own people, no less--in a manner which already warrants war crime charges. Given these grim realities, we are facing an onslaught of elite opinion that �something must be done� to remedy the increasingly intolerable situation. This past Friday, we had three opinion pieces splashed prominently across each of the New York Times (Anne-Marie Slaughter), Wall Street Journal (Fouad Ajami) and the Financial Times (Emile Nakhleh). Unsurprisingly, the best of the lot is Nakhleh�s (the FT consistently has a far higher caliber of opinion writing than either of its two other main competitors), but I want to touch on each in turn.
Go to the link for his analysis.
This video and commentary also comes from his post.
The name Ibrahim Qashoush may not be familiar to many readers, but this amateur poet found his voice during the uprising as this embedded YouTube attests. Reportedly, in revenge, the regime not only killed him, but with sadistic savagery tore out his vocal chords and dumped his mutilated corpse in the Orontes River (ostensibly as a warning), which flows through Hama�s ancient, and beautiful, water-wheels. This malice painfully showcases the character of this increasingly odious regime. The Arab Awakening is about many things, from disgust with chronic corruption, limited prospects characterized by chronic unemployment, and much more, but it is certainly also about disgust at the grotesquely brazen totalitarian excesses and thuggery of episodes like these.
If Issandr el Amrani (The Arabist) says This is the Best Thing You Will Read on Syria, you can be sure not to miss it. His pr�s is at the link or the reader can go to the source.
There is a distinctly Syrian character to the crisis. Unlike Libyans, who in a matter of hours defected en masse, took up arms and called upon the outside world to step in, Syrians took months to resort to weapons or cry out for international intervention. Unlike Egypt, where revolution was a sublime but somewhat shallow moment of grace, the Syrian uprising has been a long, hard slog: The protest movement has gradually built itself up, studied the regime�s every move and mapped out the country to the extent that small towns such as Binnish in the northwest are now known to all.
Alongside actual demonstrations, an expansive albeit largely invisible civil society has emerged to render them possible, by offering numerous forms of support. Businessmen have donated money and food; doctors sneak out medicines from hospitals and man field clinics in the most violence-ridden areas; religious leaders, by and large, try to keep a lid on sectarianism and violence. Over the course of the uprising, Syrians have articulated a now deeply rooted culture of dissent and developed sometimes sophisticated forms of self-rule by setting up local councils: Homs, which is also home to unruly armed groups, has developed a revolutionary council with an 11-member executive that presides over committees responsible for different aspects of the crisis, from interacting with the media to procuring medical supplies. Within revolting communities there is a greater sense of purpose, solidarity and national unity than at any time in recent Syrian history.