Joshua Landis: Hama, which is the center of this crackdown, left government control about three weeks ago. The governor called off the troops and withdrew security from the town. He was summarily fired. The government realized that this was a big mistake. . . . The government is clearly trying to take control of Hama — it doesn’t want it to become a site where perhaps a new military could grow up, a free Syrian military or a new political order. . . . Russia has been key to vetoing efforts by the United States, Britain, and Germany to come up with stronger language and stronger actions against Syria. Russia has said: We do not want to have happen what happened in Libya again in Syria. So it hasn’t happened. On the other hand, Russia made some pretty strong statements today about Syria’s need to stop shooting. . . . We’ve tried sanctions in Iraq, in Iran, in Libya. They haven’t worked very much, and when they have worked, they starved the people and not the government.
Joshua Landis is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Read his blog Syria Comment at <www.joshualandis.com/blog/>. This video was released by Russia Today on 2 August 2011. Cf. Louis Denghien, “Les opposants « pacifiques et démocrates » de Hama en pleine action” (InfoSyrie, 2 August 2011); Bassam al-Kadi, “Syria: What Is Going On in Hama?” (MRZine, 2 August 2011); “Syrian Tweets: ‘Peaceful Protests’?” (MRZine, 3 August 2011).