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Entries in Arab Spring (27)


Syria Video Special: A Protest Movement Renewed

A massive anti-Assad protest in Douma, an important Damascus suburb, during the funeral of Yusef Al-Toukhi.

Just two weeks ago, I was beginning to think that the protests were losing steam. Every passing day, since the fall of Tripoli, we see larger and larger protests in Syria. Protests in some locations were becoming smaller. In other places, the activists who were protesting seemed almost defeated. Reports from contacts in the country hinted that the spirit of the protesters was very low. At least 473 people had been killed by the Assad military since the beginning of Ramadan, according to rights groups. The bloody month had proven that the protests were not going away, the genie of Arab Spring would never be returned to the bottle in Syria, but it had also proven that the violence had taken its toll.

Some activists in Syria had even begun to question whether a peaceful revolution would be successful

All of that has changed in the last two weeks.

What we are seeing is protests in locations where there were not protests before, which has in turn caused the Syrian military to kill in those locations, intensifying protests in those locations. While Aleppo and central Damascus still seem elusive targets for widespread protests, the areas around these cities are seeing larger and more widespread protest. Eventually, these protests may very well push into the centers of the last two holdouts of dissent.

Below we're collecting just a sample of videos of the day. We'll add to the list as the day goes on:

8. Protests in A'zaz, Aleppo (MAP). Earlier we noted daytime protests in Tall Rifat, halfway between A'zaz and downtown Aleppo, and there are also protests there this evening.

7. A puzzling yet impressive video. This clip claims to have been taken by soldiers during the siege of Daraa, and has apparently been set to (what we would assume is) victorious music, by the soldiers themselves. Smoke can be seen rising from the city, and smiling soldiers take up sniper positions on the rooftop.

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Latest from Iran (31 August): Religious Freedom & Lakes Drying Up

1842 GMT: An EA Correspondent has this assessment of the Supreme Leader's approach to the upcoming Majilis elections.


Farrokh Negahdar, a Fedayeen member who always defends the IR, commented on Kham's statement on Radio Farda today: apparently the SL prefers "secure" Majlis elections to a massive outcome of voters, i.e. high security measures will be taken to guarantee a fluid "election" for appearances' sake. To me this news is the most obvious evidence for the fact that he has lost all hope in attracting the masses via pro-regime "reformists".

1840 GMT: Al Jazeera English is reporting that Mehdi Karroubi has resided in solitary isolation inside an Iranian prison for the last several weeks. However, they have not provided the source of their report.

1700 GMT: According to Fars News, Abbas Mottahari, the Revolutionary Guards commander in Garmsar, has stated:

"the final goal of the new structure of the Basij is to make 70% of the people in the neighborhood Basij members, 50% participants in group prayer, and 20% participants in Friday prayer."

1441 GMT: "TV Makes Kids Satan" Alert - IRNA is reporting that Ayatollah Mazaheri said today that satellite dishes are far more dangerous than the atomic bomb, because TV is making the youth turn towards moral corruption and prostitution.

1335 GMT: Never Work with Children, Animals, or Honest Experts. The danger of live television, as an Iran News Network anchorman found in this interview with an analyst on Afghanistan....

The trouble began when the analyst, instead of keeping focus on the problems and errors of the US, said, "Countries in the region, including Pakistan and Iran, don't want a democracy to exist in Afghanistan,... [Iran and Pakistan] have carried out damaging interference in Afghanistan in the past 10 years,"

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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Rotting Bodies, Beaten Protesters

Ali Ferzat, a Syrian cartoonist who was beaten by masked gunmen earlier this week. 

See Also, Statement on Syria by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Social Media Revolution (Qualman)

Friday's Liveblog: Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The State of the Uprisings

1700 GMT: Disturbing video footage. A doctor is reportedly taking a bullet off a man's arm who was wounded during the clash in the Rifai mosque.

1655 GMT: Gaddafi's recruited African mercenaries have started leaving Libya.

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Social Media Revolution (Qualman)

Erik Qualman and the folks over at Socialnomics created this piece with a simple, yet bold, question: Is Social media a fad, or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?

The question is loaded, and I don't believe that it is designed to make a "Technology is responsible for all good change in the world" type of argument. What it firmly establishes, through a series of simple facts, is a rapidly changing world, a world in which youth + technology = a change in the power structure, for good and for bad, that has existed for generations, or in some cases millenia.

Plus, with a soundtrack by Fatboy Slim, how can one go wrong? So turn it up, and learn some facts.


SYRIA: Crisis may hurt economies of the Region (Saif)

We have been documenting the human cost of the crisis in Syria, and beyond, but in the end, the economic cost of the Arab Spring may be a major driving factor in social and political change in the region. Ibrahim Saif, an analyst with the Carnegie Middle East Center, writes on the LA's Times blog, Babylon & Beyond:

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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) Liveblog: No Stalemate?

1936 GMT: Avaaz is reporting 9 people killed in Lattakia today. Al Jazeera is reporting at least 2 deaths in the Asheera neighbourhood in Homs. "Heavy gunfire has been heard from inside the military academy in Al Wa'ar in the same city." This is a development that we will watch carefully. With the Turkish foreign minister stating that he does not want to see foreign intervention in the conflict, and with seemingly no will to take up arms against Bashar, the loyalty of the military will remain key in Assad's ability to hold power.

1903 GMT: Abu Kamal protests after Taraweeh prayers. Note the sign, "Down with Iran and Bashar":

Bousr Al Harer, Daraa:

1835 GMT: A demonstration forming earlier today in Hama, Syria:

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Syria Special - Hama: A City of Graves (Abouzeid)

A grave in a public garden in Hama Read more: Hama, original site of the 1982 massacre at the hands of Bashar al Assad's father, has a long, sad history of military aggression, and public burial. Rania Abouzeid writes for TIME Magazine:

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A Syrian Drama: A Taxonomy of a Revolution (Dahi)

The Syrian regime is in big trouble. Absent an economic collapse, its downfall may not be imminent, but Most indicators lead to the conclusion that the regime is effectively done, and the only remaining questions are how bloody the transition will be and what type of Syria will emerge. On the domestic front, the social base of the regime is stagnant or shrinking. The regime immediately mobilized its entire social support structure to ‘million-man’ marches. Though many attending are government workers made to go (pro-regime marches are always on workdays), many of those attending do so willingly. However that mobilization has reached its limit: the regime has no new social base to draw on and mobilize. Most of those who willingly attend the “mnhibak” (literally: we love you) pro-regime rallies know very well that there will not be any violence otherwise they would stay home. On the other hand, the anti-regime demonstrations are steadily increasing, both in numbers and in geographic size. Three weeks ago roughly 1.2 million or 5.5% of the population demonstrated all over the country. Economically, the country is in dire straits. The tourist industry has been decimated. The increased deficit spending, from raised salaries, support for fuels, lower import tariffs are large enough, without taking into account the spending on Army mobilization, and military and security personnel. Externally, the regime is getting more, not less isolated. Just yesterday, the Russian President warned his Syrian counterpart of a ‘sad fate’, unless reforms are implemented. It was given a long leash by the West to deal with the protests, but its main asset as a guarantor of ‘stability’ is now turning into a liability.

I traveled to Syria in July to observe first-hand what is taking place inside the country. Most of my time was spent in Damascus and its suburbs, with a brief trips elsewhere, in particular a two day stint in Hama just days before the government’s massacre. What follows is a series of vignettes, hastily put together, of life inside Syria this past month. These stories represent my own understanding and readers should take all stories emerging from the country as a partial truth, but will hopefully help give a clearer picture of Syria in the midst of the revolution.

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Iran Video Special: Europe & US Need Freedom Most of All

In an interview with RT, Ahmadinejad says that nukes are the weapons from yesterday, Iran isn't meddling in the affairs of others, "justice and dignity are among the requirements of all human beings," and the US and Europe need freedom more than Iran, because Iran already has so much. But hey, even Ahmadinejad admits, Iran isn't perfect.

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Libya, Syria (and Beyond) Liveblog: The Fight for Zawiya

1921 GMT: Lattakia is under attack, but both pro and anti-Assad protests took place in Damascus today. What are the pro-Assad protests like? One activist, Omar S. Dahi, visited a pro-Assad protest in the last month, out of curiosity, and this is what he found there:

"As I approached the main square, which had several hundred people in white shirts all carrying or wearing Syrian flags, with loud pro-Bashar music blaring from loudspeakers, I finally realized what fascism really looks like.

"The belief or claim by some opposition members outside the country that pro-regime demonstrations are entirely forced is not accurate. Many state (and private sector) employees are made to go, but many show up on their own and do not fit neatly into categories such as ‘regime beneficiary’ which some members of the opposition like to throw around.

"These were people, on their own will, coming to support a regime’s brutal crackdown by security forces that they themselves have long dreaded and despised. I saw and spoke with several people in attendance, all of whom insisted the events were necessary to ‘confront the conspiracy,’ to ‘preserve national unity’, and to ‘oppose extremists.’"

1906 GMT: We've uploaded a new video on our separate entry, showing security surrounding the Almhati mosque in Lattakia, preventing people from entering for Taraweeh prayers.

The LCCS now says 25 people were killed today in Lattakia, including 3 children.

1749 GMT: Reuters is now reporting that the Libyan opposition forces may have occupied the town of Surman, to the west of the embattled Zawiya. This is unconfirmed, but would potentially give the Libyan opposition forces the ability to flank Gaddafi's forces and cut off supply lines from Tunisia:

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