Syria News Roundup: Good Protesters, Bad Protesters

USG Discovers Syrian Protesters It Doesn’t Like

As’ad AbuKhalil (12 June 2011): “Yesterday, a US official referred to the protesters at the US embassy as ‘thugs.’  But if they were attacking a Ba’th office or a Syrian government building, I am sure that they would not have been described as thugs.  So thuggery is not an act in itself: it is a description of an act directed against targets that we like.”

“Peaceful Protesters” vs. “Violent Protesters,” from the Imperialist POV

“Peaceful Protesters” against the Syrian Government,
Hama, Syria, 4 June 2011

“Violent Protesters” against the French and US Governments,
Damascus, Syria, 11 July 2011

Hama Now Looks Like Kandahar

As’ad AbuKhalil (14 July 2011): “Comrade Ghadi Francis of As-Safir reached the city of Hama and reports from there.  She is not impressed with the rebels in control of the city.”

Syrian Rebel Flag

Amal Hanano (11 July 2011): “One year ago, no respectable person would display or wear a flag.  Now, everyone owns one or more, with shabbiha manned sidewalk carts popping up to sell popular flag paraphernalia (and to listen for whispers of dissidence on the street).  But during the first weeks of the uprising, a few protesters from the opposition began carrying another flag, one that marked Syria’s independence from France on April 17, 1946: three horizontal stripes of green, white, and black with three red stars.  Resurrecting a past flag is a staple of Syrian history.  In fact, the flag has officially changed nine times since the formation of the sovereign state after it gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1918. . . .  Symbols are undeniably powerful, especially when it comes to forming national identity.  When the opposition adopted the Istiklal, ‘Independence’ flag as a symbol of resistance, it was a major tactical mistake (although well-intentioned).  By giving up our flag, we gave loyalists exactly what they needed, a powerful symbol, untainted by images of the Assad clan, and an argument against the opposition’s patriotism.  Each pro-regime rally is a sea of flags, fluttering with gold trim, on hats and t-shirts, painted onto faces and bodies, covering cars, and starring in the latest craze: patriotic bling.  A gold flag bracelet is the hottest ‘it’ accessory of the season (really, what better way to show your loyalty to the regime than wearing a diamond-studded Syrian map with the flag and a large ‘I heart Syria’?).  The opposition realized the loss too late, and so they use both flags at their protests.  In Deir al-Zour, they carried a long, confusing half-and-half version.”

Worse Than Chalabi

As’ad AbuKhalil (14 July 2011): “It is such an insult to the Syrian people that this guy is being promoted in Western media as the ‘leader’ of the Syrian opposition.”

Wages of Revolt

Syria Report (11 July 2011): “The Syrian government is working on a draft scheme to reduce the retirement age of civil servants from 60 to 52, according to Mohammad Jleilati, Minister of Finance.”

Cf. Bassem Mroue, “Arab League Tells US to Stop Interfering in Syria” (Associated Press, 13 July 2011); Bill Varner, “U.S., Europeans Blocked Anew at UN over Syrian Nuclear Plant” (Bloomberg News, 13 July 2011); “After improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted.  In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration. . . .  Today, President Obama’s favorable ratings across the Arab world are 10% or less. . . .  The U.S. role in establishing a no-fly zone over Libya receives a positive rating only in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” (“Arab Attitutes: 2011,” Arab American Institute Foundation).


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