Monday, May 16, 2011

16-May-11: Behind the Syrian scenes

"I will remain dutiful and faithful to my people and will walk along them
to build Syria, which we love and feel proud of." []
Yesterday, Catastrophe ("Nakba") Day according to Arab mythology, the world was focused on a thousand-plus Syrians bused by the Assad regime down to his country's border with Israel. Lenny Ben David writes in a JPost article today (see below) that "No gathering of more than five people is tolerated in Syria, not to mention the busing of hundreds across a country under martial law."

And Ron Ben-Yishai writing on the Ynet site says that in his experience "You cannot go near the Syrian side of the border without Damascus' written permission. The presence of dozens of buses, shuttling Palestinians... suggests that Sunday's infiltration incident was premeditated."

At the border, the rent-a-crowd were "encouraged" to push forward and destroy the fence [see this amateur video]. Around noon (according to the Jerusalem Post's account), about 1,000 people on the Syrian side were right on the border fence and a few hundred then rammed it. There followed a flood into the nearby Israeli town of Majd al Shams where they taunted the handful of armed Israeli service personnel stationed there. Think of the rioters as human shields since that's evidently the role in which they were placed. Certainly the government officials (and buses they laid on since practically nothing moves in Assad's Syria without his approval) that brought them there cared not one jot for whether this was smart or safe or a life-threatening thing to do.

We know all of this because it was so relatively widely reported.  But meanwhile far from the attention of the reporters...
Army shelling kills 7 in Syrian protest town: group    At least seven Syrian civilians were killed Sunday when Syrian troops shelled the town of Tel Kelakh near the border with Lebanon to quell a pro-democracy uprising, an activists' protest group said. The town, just a few miles (km) from Lebanon's northern border, is the latest focus of an intensified crackdown by Syrian troops and tanks, sent to quell demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. The shelling on Tel Telakh concentrated on al-Burj, Ghalioun, Souk and Mahata neighborhood, the Local Coordination Committees said in a statement, adding wounded people had little access to care because the main hospital in the town was sealed by security forces and the main road to Lebanon blocked. 
Reuters published this picture of a mob crashing through the
Israel-Syria border yesterday [Source] - click to enlarge
This happened at about the same time. But for some mysterious reason, the photographers and reporters of the great metropolitan newspapers were - how to say this? - somewhere else. So there are no newsagency pictures, and no direct reportage. 

Assad's impact on his country has been considerable. AFP, quoting human rights activists in Syria, says that "up to 850 people have been killed and at least 8,000 arrested since the protests started in mid-March". They're all Syrian, by the way. As are the gunmen who fired at them. And the politicians who gave the shooting orders for the ongoing bloodbath.

Lenny Ben David, as we mentioned above, has some insights in today's Jerusalem Post about the Syrian ruler and his inner thug: "Bashar Soprano of Syria". Among other little-known or unknown aspects of the Assad-inflicted Syrian catastrophe: 38,000 Syrians killed by Assad the Father's men in Hama in 1982. Children raped and tortured in Daraa by Assad the Son's thugs in the past few weeks. And Assad Enterprises up to its eyebrows in arms trafficking, drug trafficking and of course terrorism.
"Besides running Syria’s government with an iron fist, the Assad clan and its associates control Syria’s media, army, phone companies, intelligence service, tourism services and banks. They’re also involved in smuggling, the drug trade and arms dealing in and out of the region. Lebanon, a regional financial center and smuggling hub, is important for Syria’s kleptocrats, and Syrian hegemony in Lebanon is critical for the clan’s financial success. If the Assad associates are not blood relatives or from the Alawite sect, then they’re likely connected through marriage."
It's here and worth a few minutes of your reading time.

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