Syria Ends Emergency Rule; Sics Security Forces on Protesters

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I suppose it's what happens when you have too many revolutions at once, localized in one region, with the United States military lobbing Tomahawk missiles into Libya: When, in the face of a growing protest movement, the Baathist dictatorship in Syria revokes 48 years (!) of emergency rule, it's doesn't merit an above-the-scroll headline on CNN.com. Bashir Assad, described perfectly by Christopher Hitchens as "the human toothbrush," promises expanded civil liberties and curbed police power, according to the New York Times, but the dictator in Damascus also wants to make clear that the "reforms" don't actually mean that Syrians will be able to challenge his authority:

Security forces made some attempts to disperse the crowds but relented until after midnight. Then, protesters said, a mix of soldiers, security forces and police officers attacked the crowd with tear gas and live ammunition after the crowds had dwindled. Videos posted on Facebook showed scenes of chaos as volleys of gunfire echoed over a square faintly lit by yellow streetlights. Mattresses were strewn across the square, where a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad superimposed on a Syrian flag read, "Yes to living together, no to strife."

"This is reform? This is reform?" asked a protester in one of the videos.

Full coverage of the protests here. BBC News reports that security forces fired upon protesters "at random" in the city of Homs.

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  1. They drop “Emergency Rule” just when they need it most???

  2. Who needs an emergency law when you can just shoot people down in the street and laugh?

    1. Almost every song I write is ultimately about this.

        1. “Boys of Summer.”

  3. How long until enough Syrian protesters die to qualify as a humanitarian crisis? Just how many dead people qualify as a humanitarian crisis? What was that threshold in Libya anyway?

    1. Oooh, I see the big difference – only 400k barrels of oil a day.
      http://www.indexmundi.com/syri…..ction.html
      Sorry Syrian humans, no NATO freedom bombs for you. Good luck with that little revolution.

      Buy US savings bonds and God Bless America.

      1. “Sorry Syrian humans, no NATO freedom bombs for you. Good luck with that little revolution.”

        I almost shat myself. Best laugh of the day.

      2. Considering that NATO has admitted it can’t help the rebels in Misrata, the Syrians may not be much better off if they were on BO’s massacre prevention list.

        It’s amazing that BO found a way to produce all the worst consequences of both the non-interventionist and hyper-interventionist approaches to Libya: there’s likely to be an even bigger massacre than before, NATO gets embarrassed in its own backyard, and the Arab street has another reason to despise the West as an unreliable ally against dictators. Essentially all of Ken Shultz and his neocon pals’ goals for starting this war are not only not going to be accomplished but they are actually going to be set back further…and we still wasted money and lives on it.

    2. What was that threshold in Libya anyway?

      Not many. Obama lied to us about the pending humanitarian crisis.

      http://articles.boston.com/201…..-positions

      The difference between Libya and Syria? The Euros don’t have it in for Assad (perhaps because his wife dresses up a cocktail party so nicely). Assad doesn’t have much oil, of course. There might be some logistical advantage to attacking Libya, but maybe not.

      Mostly, I suspect, its that Syria has been reliably anti-American and has actively supported jihadis killing American troops, and we don’t support revolutions to overturn anti-American regimes that are actively engaged in killing American troops.

      1. The difference is that a Syrian crisis won’t send refugees streaming into Europe, unlike Libya.

    3. Intervening in Syria would upset the balance of power in Israel and Palestine and be seen as an act furthering Israel’s interests.

      1. Considering what usually happens to Middle Eastern countries where the US overthrows a secular dictator, Israel’s probably better off with the status quo.

      2. Despite the fact that the Israelis don’t want us to?

        Oh right, that’s how it was in Iraq.

  4. Bashir Assad, described perfectly by Christopher Hitchens as “the human toothbrush,” promises expanded civil liberties and curbed police power…

    He wouldn’t… lie to us, would he?

    1. If I knew him, I’d call him Dr. Bashir Assad, and I’d say “Beam me up!” a lot.

      1. Why would you ever watch DS9? So very terrible.

        1. It was better than Voyager and Enterprise and had some pretty good episodes. One of my favorite Trek episodes was The Visitor, for instance.

          1. It was better than Voyager and Enterprise

            Fuck.

        2. Well, all I have left are DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise, so…watching them all.

        3. I have to admit that I refer to Dr. Bashir–when I must–as Dr. Brassiere. I blame 9/11.

        4. Why would you ever watch DS9? So very terrible.

          It’s the best Star Trek series. Eat it.

          1. I wouldn’t say that. The best, of course, was TOS.

      2. Didn’t he play a Middle Eastern ruler in Syriana?

        It all comes together now.

        1. Not sure. I’m pretty sure he was in Kingdom of Heaven, though.

  5. Assad must go.

    Kidding!

    1. Assad’s wife is very progressive. She has nutrition programs for children. We don’t want to lose her.

  6. Call me Captain Obvious, but all of Syria’s jihadis (and would-be jihadis) should be clear on the point by now that even IF the United States has been a source of political problems in the region, it’s the government of Syria that’s treating the Syrian people like they’re under a military occupation.

    …meanwhile the United States is trying to protect the rebels in Libya.

    My big question is this–what does Hezbollah have to say about all this?

    Is giving the people the chance to choose “with full freedom the system of government they want” something only the people of Lebanon are entitled to? What does Hezbollah have to say about the military dictatorship in Syria shooting protestors?

    1. Eh, we’re cautiously optimistic by the sight of green shoots. America, on the other hand, is fucked! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    2. My guess is all of these revolutions will devolve to a fight between true, liberal seekers of Democracy, and more hardline Islamists.

      And that’s because both sides hate the current status quo. The dictators that run these countries hate democracy, but they also fear the Islamists.

      When marching in the street to depose a tyrant, the person next to you may be marching because the tyrant didn’t go far enough.

      1. “When marching in the street to depose a tyrant, the person next to you may be marching because the tyrant didn’t go far enough.”

        That’s true of Hezbollah too though, isn’t it?

        If Hezbollah stands behind the dictators in Iran and Syria, doesn’t that make Hezbollah look even more like astroturf?

        They’re supposedly against the oppression of Shiites in Palestine and Lebanon, but it’s okay for Syria and Iran to oppress Shiites?

        Why?

        …because Syria and Iran are writing the checks?

        1. Ken, what meager foreign policy strategy credentials you once had around here have evaporated at this point. If I were you I’d avoid discussing foreign affairs for a year or so and hope everyone forgets your ridiculous advocacy for BO’s kinetic military action.

        2. That’s true of Hezbollah too though, isn’t it?

          I don’t honestly know. I admit I was thinking more Taliban/Al Qaeda types. Hezbollah seems to be a far more sophisticated political machine than the aforementioned.

          1. “Hezbollah seems to be a far more sophisticated political machine than the aforementioned.”

            No question they are. Especially in Lebanon.

            But how credible is it for them to say they’re fighting for Shiite liberation when the guys that are signing their checks are shooting peaceful Shiite protestors back home?

            There’s no question–some of those protestors getting shot at by the Syrian government are there to protest for more of what Hezbollah is all about–but if Hezbollah doesn’t come out and condemn the Syrian government for shooting these protestors?

            Then how can Hezbollah credibly say it’s all about Shiite liberation?

            Hopefully those conflicted protestors we were talking about will come to see Hezbollah for what they are.

            …or if Hezbollah somehow becomes a legitimate force for Shiite liberation and turns on the Syrian government? I’m not sure that’s bad news from an American security perspective either.

    3. …meanwhile the United States is trying to protect the rebels in Libya.

      I thought we handed off to NATO?

      1. We still have some obsolete missiles in the arsenal to get rid of.

  7. Reminds me of a passage out of Catch 22 about Major Major Major Major.

    “You’re the new squadron commander,” Colonel Cathcart shouted rudely across the railroad ditch to him. “But don’t think it means anything because it doesn’t. All it means is that you’re the new squadron commander.”

  8. If Osama and his pals are so angry about secularism, why aren’t they flying planes into buildings in Damascus? They even let women walk around without burlap sacks on their heads!

  9. Syrian government should have discuss with their people to solve this problem these protests now spread all along the region and most of other Islamic region no any government will act against their people because they are for the people.

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