An issue I neglected to address in Tuesday mornings post on the Palestinian protests is that March 15 was supposed to be a “day of rage" for Syria as well.
It's not that I didn't think it was important, but I didn't think that we would see much of it. In a region full of repressive regimes, Syria is one of the worst. The state security apparatus is frighteningly effective, and government has shown itself more than willing to use excessive force on many occasions. These, in conjunction with a relatively stable population have led me to leave the Syrian regime in the "safe" column as far as political upheaval goes.
True to form, the protests in Syria were small and quickly controlled by Syrian police. Some arrests, and some violence for sure, but that was the end of it.
Or so I thought…
While I and many others were focused on the dramatic events transpiring in Libya something surprising happened in Syria - the protests continued.
Egyptian blogger Zenobia commented on Tuesday night,
"If our dear Syrian brothers and sisters managed to protest till Friday , till the Friday prayers it will be a great triumph."
Although I am a devoted reader of her blog, at I was busy thinking about Libya, Bahrain, and Palestine and I failed to take note of her prediction.
As it turns out she was right. Syria is no longer on the safe list.
(Other countries currently on the safe list are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco. The way things are going, however I may need to move a few of them over the next month or two).
Anyway, Syria. Big deal for sure. I was hoping that Qaddafi's brutality would serve as a "don't go there" sign for other Middle East tyrants, but unfortunately that seems not to be the case (particularly in Yemen and Bahrain). Instead, what seems to have happened is that the Syrian people are taking their lead from the Libyans.
Unabashed defiance in the face of almost certain death, injury, or incarceration.
Large scale protests in five Syrian cities.
Police using live ammunition on protesters in the streets.
Citizens storming a state security building.
Basically like a mini Egypt in fast-forward.
Rather than simply reiterating what has already been posted, I'll direct you to Zenobia's blog where she has some excellent coverage. She's an enthusiastic and devoted blogger - I don't always agree with her interpretations, but she takes her work very seriously and does an outstanding job of reporting events as she sees them.
Anyway, once again, all bets are off.
Here's to the Arab Spring...