Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Assad's Regime Issues Ominous Warning To Protesters

A day after murdering still more Syrian protesters, the Syrian regime issued an ominous warning to protesters to cease and desist or face another harsh crackdown.
Weeks of clashes in Syria between protesters and the government intensified on Monday and early Tuesday as security forces fired on a crowd of thousands of demonstrators in the central square of Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, witnesses said.

The crowd had gathered to protest a deadly crackdown by the security forces, who activists say killed 14 demonstrators on Sunday. Tensions mounted throughout the day, and at about 2:10 a.m. on Tuesday the forces began firing again, witnesses said.

Shortly before 3 a.m., a woman who lives near the square said by cellphone: “Shooting is heard echoing through the city. The mosques are all calling for help. We fear that many are killed in the square, that it’s a massacre.”

By early afternoon on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported, people were staying inside their homes and the streets were largely deserted.

In a statement carried on the official SANA news agency and on Syrian state television, the Interior Ministry urged Syrians “to refrain from any mass rallies or demonstrations or sit-ins” of any kind, warning that that authorities would apply “the laws in force in Syria for serving the citizens’ security and stability,” an apparent reference to the country’s 48-year-old emergency law which gives the authorities wide powers of arrest.

While the statement did not specify what those measures would entail, the warning could presage an even harsher crackdown in one of the Middle East’s most repressive countries.

The widening defiance in Syria comes after months of challenge to the autocrats of the Arab world that confronts them with a stark choice: either they can step down, as the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt were forced to do, or they can protect their own power, like the rulers of Libya and Yemen, at the risk of ever greater violence.
As I've been saying for quite some time now, the Syrian regime provided only cosmetic changes when it reconstituted the Cabinet and that it would eventually institute reforms.

All those "changes" hide the fact that this is a regime that remains in power because it is willing to use force to do so. Bashar learned the lessons (the Hama Rules) from his father and is executing his own version of them as protests seem to grow larger and spread further around the country with each passing week. The reforms are insufficient to placate the protesters and the regime is increasingly resorting to use force to quell the protests.

It's a seemingly self-defeating strategy undertaken by Assad - to make promises that the regime wont keep. The Syrian regime is murdering protesters all while claiming that it would institute reforms and the harsh truth is that the regime isn't going to give in to the protesters and the body count will surely rise.

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