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Syria Update: The Assad Regime Trembles

Posted on March 28 2011 10:00 am
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The Syrian government says it will lift the state of emergency but is not saying when. As Al-Jazeera explains, the emergency laws permit the arrest of anyone deemed a threat to security, the dispersing of demonstrations, official control over the media and various measures that trample civil rights. Assad is planning a televised address to his country later today and 16 political prisoners including an activist from Deraa were released today.

The Reform Party of Syria says not to get excited over the lifting of the state of emergency because SANA says new laws called “Laws to Fight Terror” will be put in place to secure Assad’s rule.

The Syrian army entered Latakia today after at least a dozen people were killed yesterday, some of which were shot by snipers. About 3,000 people protested there.

I expect Assad to try to blame Islamist elements like Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood for the uprising today. He said that “armed gangs” were responsible for the casualties and one of his advisors accused Muslim Brotherhood cleric Shiekh Yousef al-Qaradawi for inspiring the unrest with his Friday sermon.

The Israeli media is reporting that eyewitnesses are claiming that some of the thugs that attacked the protesters are speaking Farsi, indicating they are members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Some Syrian opposition outlets also claimed this.

The Reform Party of Syria says that the Syrian ambassador to India has resigned to protest the violence and four soldiers have gone missing in Hassakeh after refusing orders to open fire on protesters. There are rumors that Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa has been killed after his nephew denounced the regime on TV.

The Assad regime is clearly trembling and the deployment of soldiers to Latakia shows this is not an uprising limited to one geographic area or sect. There is no indication that this uprising is led by, or inspired by, the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist group will undoubtedly gain from Assad’s fall but it will have to share power with secular democratic forces and it is doubtful that the next government will be any more supportive of extremism than the current one. This is a revolution we can cheer.

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