Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding


News, July 2011

Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)  




Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Syrian Protesters Continue Demanding Regime Change, Opposition Forms Council, Army Readies to Take Back Al-Bukamal

Syria army 'readies operations' near Iraq border


France 24, 17 July 2011 - 13H40



The army is preparing to storm the eastern border town of Al-Bukamal, next to Iraq, where "armed groups" have created an "explosive" situation," Al-Watan newspaper reported on Sunday. Al-Watan newspaper says the "situation is back to normal" in the central city of Hama, the epicentre of anti-government protests in recent weeks, which raised fears of a military crackdown.


The army is preparing to storm the eastern border town of Al-Bukamal, next to Iraq, where "armed groups" have created an "explosive" situation," Al-Watan newspaper reported on Sunday.
"The situation in Al-Bukamal is explosive, so the army is preparing to intervene... because the authorities fear an armed revolt in this border town where (insurgents) can easily find logistical and political support," it said.
A civilian was killed in the area on Saturday when security forces opened fire to break up a demonstration against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
But the official SANA news agency spoke of "armed terrorist gangs who stormed a government building and seized the weapons stored there," adding that three security personnel were killed and two kidnapped in the attack.
Since the start of revolts in mid-March, Damascus has consistently blamed the violence racking the country on foreign interference and "armed groups" seeking to "sow chaos."
Al-Watan said the "situation was back to normal" in the central city of Hama, the epicentre of anti-government protests in recent weeks, which had raised fears of a military crackdown.
"The efforts the new governor of Hama has made with civic leaders have borne fruit. The state of civil disobedience which lasted 13 days is over," Al-Watan said.
"With the help of residents, officials have started to remove the roadblocks erected on major thoroughfares," it added.
The residents of Hama had raised barricades to prevent a military operation against the city, where memories of a 1982 crackdown against Islamists that left 20,000 people dead remain fresh.
Activists say security forces have killed least 25 civilians in the flashpoint city since July 5, when Damascus dispatched its tanks in response to an anti-regime demonstration that drew half a million people.
Video footage posted by the Facebook group The Syria Revolution 2011, a motor of the protests, showed thousands of mourners join the funerals of 28 people killed in demonstrations on Friday, most of them in Damascus, where security forces reportedly opened fire.
In Istanbul, hundreds of Syrian dissidents gathered to debate strategies to oust Assad's regime. Participants came from various countries and belonged to many different opposition groups, coordinators said.
Damascus meanwhile prepared a music festival to mark the 11th anniversary of Assad's taking the oath of office as president.
He succeeded his father, Hafez, who died on June 10, 2000, after ruling the country with an iron grip for three decades.
Since the protests began on March 15, 1,419 civilians and 352 members of the security forces have died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Thousands more people have been arrested.

Syrian opposition forms council to battle Assad
Opponents of the Syrian regime created a board-based council at a meeting in Turkey that they hope will become the government-in-waiting and fill the political void if ongoing protests succeed in toppling President Bashar al-Assad.
By News Wires (text)

REUTERS - Syrian opposition factions meeting in Istanbul on Saturday formed a broad-based council in the hope of creating a government-in-waiting to fill a void if street protests succeed in toppling President Bashar al-Assad.

Meeting a day after the biggest protests so far in Syria, the result was probably the minimum the opposition could have hoped for if they were to give heart to protesters risking their lives demanding an end to 41 years of Assad family rule.

“We shall work towards reaching out towards other opposition groups to lead the country towards the democratic vision we have,” Haitham al-Maleh, a prominent opposition figure told Reuters at the end of the long, and often fractious one-day meeting.

Some 350 people attended the « National Salvation Congress », but inevitably many came from outside Syria, having left the country years if not decades earlier.

They had hoped to hook up with opposition inside Syria though a video link to a conference in Damascus, but that was called off after Syrian security forces targeted the venue as part of a brutal crackdown in the capital on Friday.

Assad’s troops killed at least 32 civilians, including 23 in the capital Damascus on Friday. On Saturday, secret police killed one protester and wounded five when they opened fire at pro-democracy demonstrators in the eastern border town of Albu Kamal near Iraq’s Sunni heartland.

Rights groups estimate that more than 1,400 people have been killed in the brutal repression unleashed since the uprising began in March.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, coincidentally also in Istanbul for a meeting on the Libya crisis and talks with Turkey’s leaders, condemned the carnage and encouraged efforts to create a coherent opposition.

“The brutality has to stop,” she said in a televised interview with a group of young Turkish people at an Istanbul coffee shop on Saturday.

Later at a joint news conference with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Clinton said: “Now Syria’s future is up to the Syrian people, but of course the efforts by the opposition to come together to organise and to articulate an agenda are an important part of political reform.”

Davutoglu repeated warnings to Assad’s government to implement reform or face being swept away by democratic forces.

“A government that does not consider the demands of its society won’t survive, » said Davutoglu, who had earlier urged Assad to undertake “shock therapy” reforms.

“Assad said he was going to have multi-party groups in parliament ... I hope Syria has opposition parties and that Syria has opposition parties that raise their voice,” he said.

“Civil disobedience”

Splits opened up at the Istanbul meeting over whether to form a government-in-waiting or wait to see how the uprising unfolds, rather than assume leadership of an uprising that sprang from the people.

At the end of the day the opposition figure compromised on forming the 25-member council which will meet on Sunday to appoint an 11-member committee that will organise another conference aimed at creating a government-in-waiting.

“The council will be entrusted with the task of preparing another conference that will have high on its agenda electing a a government-in-exile to handle a transitional period after the regime’s downfall,” said Adib Shishakly, a liberal and scion of an old political family now based in Saudi Arabia.

Radwan Ziadeh, a well-known activist based in Washington who was attending the Istanbul meeting, said the opposition will be compelled to narrow their differences out of respect for the protesters dying in the streets.

“The feeling of responsibility will push them to narrow their leadership wrangles. If they don’t do that the street will discredit them,” Ziadeh said.

Broadly divided between Islamists, liberals, tribal leaders and Kurdish factions, and those living in exile the fragmented opposition are virtual strangers to each other having been suppressed by decades of one-party rule.

“People are demanding that the opposition speed up unifying its efforts so that people deal with it as a credible alternative, » Ali Sadreddin Bayanouni, the former head of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood told Reuters.

During the meeting tribal leaders complained they were not being accorded enough importance, some Kurdish factions withdrew from the meeting, and liberals fretted over the size of the Islamist block.

Ziadeh said it was unsurprising that they should struggle to form a common front, despite their shared aim.

“They are united in their goal to have a democratic civil state and that there will be no dialogue with the regime until he accepts to withdraw all the troops from the streets and release all the prisoners," he said.

But for opposition meeting in Istanbul the end-game was to bring about regime change as peacefully as possible.

“I’m for anything that unifies the Syrian people and helps our people inside, and unifies our ranks in confronting this illegitimate repressive regime that has usurped power and human rights, » opposition figure Wael al Hafez told the meeting in Istanbul, echoing comments made by others.

“We want to raise the intensity of the peaceful confrontation by civil disobedience and to choke the regime economically and paralyse the state with the least damage.”

Click here to find out more!

Fair Use Notice

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.





Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &