|There have always been two Syrias - the one that|
trumpets the Assad regime's image to the world, as above, and the reality.
The reality is much bloodier.
ONE of Syria's most senior diplomats has caused huge embarrassment to the regime by appearing to resign live on French television only to make an about-turn hours later. Lamia Chakkour told viewers of the France 24 rolling news channel that she no longer wanted to represent Damascus in France after the violence in her homeland. The Syrian embassy in Paris confirmed her departure afterwards. Hours later, a second statement appeared on government-controlled Syrian TV in which she denied resigning. Ms Chakkour's father was a senior figure in Syria's secret police. Her background as a member of Syria's Christian minority, from a family regarded as loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, helped to secure her ambassadorial post. The episode reflects the turmoil within the regime amid mounting international pressure.The Christian Science Monitor asks "Did Syria's ambassador to France just quit? If she did, it could spell trouble for President Bashir al-Assad":
Whether Chakkour's apparent resignation ends up being an outlier, or a moment when major cracks in the regime first burst into the open, is hard to say. After hundreds of democracy protesters were killed by Qaddafi's forces in mid-February, a slew of ambassadors resigned globally, weakening that regime diplomatically but not stopping Libya's descent into civil war. What's certain is that her decision comes after weeks of horrific reports trickling out of Syria that probably have lots of Syrian officials asking themselves how much violence they're willing to be associated with. Earlier today, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that Assad was no longer the legitimate ruler of Syria, and that's a position an increasing number of Syrians seem to be taking.Meanwhile in the past hour (it's now Wednesday 11:30pm here in the region), Associated Press has carried a syndicated report that thousands of so-called elite troops led by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother are converging right now, Wednesday night, on what it calls
"a restive northern area, and neighboring villages warned that the convoys of tanks were approaching... Syrian forces have lost control of large areas of the northern province, a pro-government newspaper reported, in a rare acknowledgment of cracks in the regime’s tight grip after weeks of protest calling for an end to its 40-year rule... In Jisr Al-Shughour, where the government said “armed groups” had killed 120 security forces and taken over, a resident said nearby villages had opened their mosques, churches and schools to take in people who fled in terror. Many also crossed into Turkey from Idlib province, said the man, who would give only a nickname, Abu Nader, because he feared government reprisals. Witnesses in nearby villages called to tell people in Jisr Al-Shughour that tanks were approaching, Abu Nader said. He said he feared an attack was imminent.