UPRISING IN SYRIA: ASSAD BEGINS TO YIELD TO PRESSURE!
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (Arutz Sheva News)
Unprecedented protests in Syria for political freedom have forced the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad to release 15 school children who were arrested in demonstrations, during which at least five people were killed.
Assad had been unable to suppress protests and withstand pressure that forced concessions from other Muslim countries in the past two months while toppling the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and threatening the Bahraini and Libyan rulers.
Syrian security forces used tear gas to break up anti-government crowds at a funeral for two protesters who were killed on Friday, when police gunned down five people in violent clashes. Approximately 10,000 people had gathered and demanded more religious and political freedoms.
Assad, whose regime is branded by the United States as supporting terror, has expressed confidence that his iron grip will not be threatened. “Syria is insulated from the upheaval in the Arab world,” he has stated, insisting that he “understands his people’s needs and has united them in common cause against Israel.”
The United States condemned the violence, and a White House statement said, “Those responsible for today’s violence must be held accountable. The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, and believes that governments, including the Syrian government, must address the legitimate aspirations of their people.”
Analysts doubt that the protests pose any near-term threat to Assad.
“Syria was always going to be a tough nut for pro-democracy activists to crack,” TIME magazine noted. “It is a country where NGOs and political parties other than the ruling Ba’ath have long been banned; and where dissent, however mild, is viciously crushed. The omnipresent secret police, who are much more visible these days, and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad they serve, have instilled a public fear so heavy, it’s almost tangible.”
It added, however, that the protests Friday and Saturday represented a drastic change and quoted Syrian dissident Ayman Abdel Nour as saying, “It is the start of a Syrian revolution unless the regime acts wisely and does the needed reforms.”
TIME concluded, “The barrier of fear Syrians must surmount is significant if they are to seriously take on the regime, but then again, as protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and even Libya have proven, so too are the opportunities.”