News / Middle East

Syrian Demonstrators Blame Government for Violence

A handout picture from the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows a burnt building in the port city of Latakia, as the residents of the northern city bury victims of a wave of unrest, March 27, 2011
A handout picture from the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows a burnt building in the port city of Latakia, as the residents of the northern city bury victims of a wave of unrest, March 27, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

Syrian protesters turned out Sunday demanding change in the face of violent reprisals from the government. But the government is blaming "armed gangs" for the violence.

Syrian officials say the "armed gangs" attacked civilians and government forces in Latakia, killing 12 people in the port city that has been rocked by demonstrations in recent days.  

But witnesses tell a different tale: that it was government troops who opened fire Saturday and who, by Sunday, had consolidated their positions around the town. Amateur videos appear to back up those accounts, but the footage could not be independently confirmed.  The Syrian government tightly controls the media, even in ordinary times.

There are reports from Daraa, a stronghold of anti-government sentiment, that hundreds of people kept up a protest vigil at al-Omari mosque.     

Syrians abroad were also rallying, both for and against the government, at Syrian embassies in the region. In neighboring Lebanon, long dominated by Damascus, the majority voiced support for the government of President Bashar al Assad.

One man outside the embassy said he would be forever with Assad. He blamed the unrest on the media, calling them "enemies of the country."

There were also voices of dissent at the rally. Abed el Nasser says his feelings changed as the protests, and the crackdown, has progressed.

El Nasser says he used to like the Syrian leader, when he stood against Israel. But now, he says, Assad is shooting his own people.

The president is facing the most serious threat to his 11 year rule.   Following the lead of other regional rulers, he has combined the security crackdown with talk of concessions. A government spokeswoman Sunday repeated a pledge that the country's dreaded emergency laws could be soon be lifted.     

There was also talk that President Assad would soon address the nation, something he has not done even as the violence escalated over the past week.

But as political analyst Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo says, such actions are too little, too late.

“This new uprising is democratic, is not sectarian as they tried to convey to the people," said Sadek. "The people in Syria need human rights, need peace. They need development.  They need an end of the corruption. They need the end of the clannish gang rule that is going on in the country.”

Sadek believes there has been a real transformation inside Syrian society so that people feel, after 40 years of minority Allouite rule, the country is ready for post-sectarian politics.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says despite the violence the situation has not progressed to the level seen in Libya.  In an interview for the CBS program Face the Nation, Clinton said every situation is unique, and does not see the U.S. intervening militarily the way it is in Libya.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs