Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV





Or, click to learn more

Search

Wednesday
Feb152012

Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Momentum of Protest, Part 1

2110 GMT: Just when it didn't look like the international community could be more divided on Syria, Syrian President Bashar al Assad has called for a Constitutional referendum that would, in theory, end singe-party rule:

The proposed charter drops Article 8, which declared the ruling Baath Party as the "leader of the state and society", allowing for a multi-party system, state television said on Wednesday.

The president, who must be a Muslim man, can serve a maximum of two seven-year terms, although it is unclear if this would apply to Assad, who is already in his second term.

Russia has praised the move, the US called it "laughable," and the posturing continues. For EA, the question of reform can be boiled down into two points: is the regime serious, and does it matter either way?

Reform - Syria was under an emergency rule between 1963 and last April, but violence has been steadily, or exponentially, increasing every month since that emergency law was lifted. Other agreements made by the Assad regime, for instance with the Arab League, have been broken almost immediately. This regime does not have a great record on reform.

Which brings me to the next point - if large segments of Europe, the US, and several Arab nations do not trust the regime, and the opposition does not trust the regime, will any of the reform efforts even matter?

2011 GMT: According to the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, today's death toll has risen to 32, "among them three children,one woman and one defected soldier. 12 martyrs fell in Idlib, 5 in Damscus Suburbs (Bloudan, Douma, Harsta) 4 fell in Homs, 3 martyrs in Daraa, 3 martyrs in Hama,2 in Hasakeh and 1 in each of Lattakia ,Damascus and Aleppo."

While the media's headline of the day is the burning oil pipeline in Homs (video provided by The Guardian below) the wider picture is that the amount of cities under attack is increasing, both in number and geography.

1746 GMT: As we're shorthanded, and multi-tasking today, we're still trying to catch up on the latest news from Syria, however it appears that the headlines today are similar to the headlines yesterday. The LCCS reports that the town of Al Atareb, in the Aleppo governorate, is still under siege by Syrian military. Atareb is between Aleppo and Idlib, and the Syrian military has all but lost control of Idlib province, and the rural Aleppo governorate is also host to a strong presence of peaceful protesters, Free Syrian Army fighters, and anti-Assad sentiment.

Ma'arrat al Numan, another opposition stronghold, is also under siege, and multiple casualties are reported there today. Hama is also under attack.

The LCCS posts this graphic video showing violence in a town on the border with Iraq, Al Bukamal, Deir Ez Zor. The escalation of conflict over the last few days, this close to the border, could pose a serious problem for the Assad regime moving forward.

The Guardian has posted a fantastic tool, an interactive timeline of the key events so far in the Syrian crisis.

1536 GMT: Earlier in Bahrain, a small group of protesters did square off against police in Karrana village. No word on arrests or clashes:

1528 GMT: Several EA sources report that three men, pictured below, broke into "Martyr Square," the square adjacent to Pearl Roundabout, in order to protest this morning. They were promptly arrested.

According to sources, the streets of Bahrain are quiet, with no protests, but large amounts of police are patrolling many villages on foot.

1409 GMT: This video was reportedly taken last night in Karanah village - the police, seemingly without provocation fire literally dozens of tear gas canisters, apparently randomly, in this small residential street:

1354 GMT: An EA correspondent in Bahrain shares this photo, men being arrested near Martyr Square during yesterday's protests. According to our source, two of the men have been identified as "Ameen Suwar" and "Metaher Saeed."

According to an opposition lawyer, in Noaim police station alone there are 68 detainees who were arrested yesterday.

1348 GMT: The news from Bahrain today is that many activists have reportedly been arrested. However, we're still receiving more video from events that transpired yesterday.

This video, for instance, appears to show a man already in police custody. However, several police officers violently assault the man, without provocation. Then the officers nervously look around, and it appears that when they see the cameraman they point a teargas gun in his direction:

Though the video is forwarded to us by a correspondent in EA, we cannot vouch for the validity of the details in the video.

1426 GMT: James Miller takes today's live coverage, and there is a lot of news to catch up on.

So far, 20 people have been killed by security forces in Syria, according to the LCCS, "among them 2 childen and one defected soldier. 11 martyrs fell in Idlib, 4 fell in Homs,3 martyrs in Daraa and 1 in each of Aleppo and Damascus Suburbs."

As we reported yesterday, Hama was bombarded through the night, but the story so far today seems to belong to Idlib, and to Damascus where widespread arrest campaigns are reported. So far, there appear to be many reports of arrests on the campus of Damascus University, and this video reportedly shows security arresting people in the Barzeh district of Damascus:

0355 GMT: Syria was marked on Tuesday by ripples in the pattern of the regime offensive, with attacks on parts of Hama, the country's third-largest city; in defiance, with the largest unit to date of the Free Syria Army that we have seen on video, in Saraqeb; and in protest, with the images of this mass rally in Khalidiya in Homs after 11 days of the Syrian military's attacks:

The Local Coordinating Committees say 49 people died at the hands of security forces on Tuesday, all but three of them civilians --- 11 in Idlib, 10 in Aleppo, nine in Homs, four in Daraa, four in Deir Ezzor, three in Hama, six in the Damascus suburbs, one in Lattakia, and one in Damascus.

0345 GMT: In his closing comments, EA's John Horne captured the essence of a dramatic Tuesday in Bahrain: 

Today has been a day of opposition spirit and regime suppression. Policing has been excessive, often reckless and antagonistic. As a consequence, it has angered many who believed in the possibilities of a peaceful return to Pearl Roundabout, or at least the chance for a peaceful expression of grievances. It has also worked to further the divide between the opposition and the supporters of the regime, risking entrenching a split formed increasingly along sectarian lines.

Today has also been a day when Bahrain was on the lips of many in the media across the world. The anniversary meant that many paid attention --- and many seemed shocked by what they saw.

Of course, that is an observation which does not offer any resolution, only the question of what comes next and the likelihood that the developments will be even more intense than those in the first year of protests.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« The Latest from Iran (15 February): The Momentum of Protest, Part 2 | Main | Bahrain Analysis: Can the Kingdom Learn from Northern Ireland? (Diboll) »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>