Syria: 'True freedom is without fear' - Martin Chulov near Homs, Friday 10 February 201

Syria: 'True freedom is without fear'
In a town near Homs residents walk a fine line every Friday between fear of the Assad regime and the courage to fight it

Martin Chulov near Homs, Friday 10 February 2012 19.49 GMT

A Syrian woman is masked in the colours of the revolutionary flag during a protest march. Photograph: Anonymous/AP
Just after noon in this rebel-held Syrian town, demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the regime of Bashar al-Assad, as they have done every Friday for the last 11 months.

There were small groups of men at first, emerging silently from mosques, homes and alleyways, then converging like a shoal of fish as they neared the main square. The gathering masses chanted as they walked. Each taunt towards Assad and the Syrian power they so despise seemed to empower the crowd, by now more than 1,000 strong and bellowing to the heavens.

The people were keen to note that the Syrian army, only a few kilometres away, did not dare come after them. And they were just as eager to stress that things are very different up the road in Homs, where Syrian troops on Friday closed in on the rebel-held areas they had bombarded for the past week.

"I called my family in Baba Amr [in the south-east of Homs] now," one man said. The network had come to life minutes earlier after not working for more than a fortnight. "The situation there is terrible," he said. "There are tanks near Baba Amr in places that they had never reached before."

Another man said the situation was even more bleak. "They have entered Baba Amr, my brother told me from his house there."

Syria: truth is the first casualty. Michael Jansen - Irish Times, 110212.

Syria: truth is the first casualty



SYRIA IS SUSPENDED between civic peace and civil war. Syrians who live together in harmony in the country’s main cities of Damascus and Aleppo have, in areas torched by rebellion, become bitter enemies confronting each other across urban front lines.

Five ways to solve the crisis in Syria: Stop the War's reply to the Guardian

Five ways to solve the crisis in Syria: Stop the War's reply to the Guardian
11 February 2012     Chris Nineham     Middle East and North Africa

By Chris Nineham
Stop the War Coalition
9 February 2012

The Guardian newspaper asked Stop the War to comment on five different ways the outside world could respond to the crisis in Syria. Chris Nineham, national officer of Stop the War, gives our reply.

Full-scale military intervention
Up to a million Iraqis lost their lives as a result of western intervention. The same people who backed that war are now pressing for further war. The Nato bombing of Libya increased the killing of civilians. National Transitional Council sources in Libya themselves admit that while between 1,000 and 2,000 people died before the intervention, around 10 times that many died after Nato became involved. Libya remains in a state close to chaos with the civil war intensifying since the fall of Tripoli. If this is the advert for humanitarian bombing, there is something wrong with the product. Given the utter disaster caused by western intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq it is amazing that this option is even being contemplated.

Safe zones and humanitarian corridor
The reality is safe zones and humanitarian corridors have to be enforced militarily. They involve foreign tanks on the ground or fighters in the air and most likely both. This means a military violation of Syria's sovereignty: in other words, an internationalisation of the conflict, which is one of the things most commentators are rightly terrified of. In the Libyan case, the misnamed "no fly zones" - really zones in which only foreign fighter planes are tolerated - morphed in to a massive bombing campaign without even one western plane being attacked.

Jim Roche of IAWM on Syria...

Syria: what can be done? Five commentators discuss the merits of five ways in which the outside world could respond to Syria's c

Syria: what can be done?
Five commentators discuss the merits of five ways in which the outside world could respond to Syria's crisis

Abdel Bari Atwan, Michael Weiss, Seumas Milne, Shashank Joshi and Mehdi Hasan, Friday 10 February 2012 10.30 GMT

1. Full-scale military intervention?

Abdel Bari Atwan I am opposed to military intervention by the west. Syria is not Libya, the army is well-armed and equipped with sophisticated weaponry. We would witness catastrophic civilian casualties. We have already seen the disasters caused by such intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the dangers of an internationalisation of the conflict are too great, with Russia, Iran and possibly China standing with Syria and Hezbollah against Nato and Israel. Such action would need a UN resolution which is clearly not forthcoming given Russia and China vetoed the last attempt to condemn Assad.

Michael Weiss A "full-scale intervention" needs to be properly defined first. Does that mean a US ground assault into Damascus? Occupation? Frankly, I don't know anyone in the pro-intervention camp who advocates such a plan. However, we should be clear about the aim of any use of force in Syria at this stage: this will only end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power, as that is now the stated policy of western governments, Turkey and the Arab League.

Seumas Milne A direct invasion of Syria to topple the regime would be another disaster on the Iraq or Afghanistan model, lead to a catastrophic loss of life, trigger a long-running guerrilla war, draw in armed groups from neighbouring states and Iran against another western military occupation of an Arab, Muslim state. Fortunately, there is currently no significant support for such a course.

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