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In the News
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01-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Ramadan came to an end this week with activists charging that some 473 people were killed amid security crackdowns during the 29 days that spanned the holy month. 360 civilians and 113 members of Syrian security forces were among the dead. Though the violence that shook the month was anticipated by many who predicted that daily antigovernment protests would be met with fierce suppression by security forces, those who expected the protests and violence to bring about the collapse of the government have instead found that the standoff between the opposition and the Syrian government remains strong. Deepening US and EU sanctions and the growing prospect of a European oil embargo against Syrian crude - which will undoubtedly destroy the last vestiges of the Syrian economy - likewise suggest that while the international community rallies against the Syrian government, the Syrian people will continue to pay the price for official decisions made at home - and abroad. 

In the News
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25-08-2011

The Syrian Revolution

On Thursday August 18, the US and its European allies Britain, France, Germany and the European Union, called upon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "step aside" for "the sake of the Syrian people". Days later, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a resolution in condemnation of the Syrian government's "grave" human rights violations and called for the immediate dispatch of an independent international commission of inquiry. The US and EU also imposed further sanctions against key Syrian officials last week as President Assad gave his fourth public statement since the start of the unrest, shunning the opportunity to announce new political reforms. Meanwhile, over 350 people have died amid security crackdowns since the start of Ramadan on August 1 and international commentary on the Syrian crisis is edging toward broad scale concurrence: in the absence of the implementation of profound, systemic reform, the Syrian government is unlikely to weather the revolution intact. 

In the News
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17-08-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

As international rhetoric in condemnation of the violence in Syria roars, the Syrian government continues in its unflinching suppression of the country's deepening unrest. The Turkish ultimatum issued last week - end the violence and implement reforms within two weeks or expect an intensification of Turkish interference - appears to have fallen on deaf ears. On Saturday, the Syrian military initiated a new assault on the coastal city of Lattakia, leading to more deaths, detainments and international condemnations. Tunisia has withdrawn its ambassador to Damascus, Switzerland has imposed more sanctions against Syrian officials, and Jordanian officials have urged for an end to the violence. Now deep into the summer, the deadlock between the government and the opposition continues with no signs of abatement in the near or distant future.

In the News
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13-08-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

Twenty-two consecutive Friday's into the Syrian revolt, Damascus finds itself increasingly encircled by international condemnation. Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar all withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus early last week, following a speech by Saudi King Abdullah urging an end to the violence and the implementation of real reform, and weekend statements from both the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council denouncing the country-wide violence. Turkish Foreign Minister Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday to demand the cessation of violence within two weeks, while the US imposed further economic sanctions against the country's financial system. At the same time, another estimated 150 civilians were killed in crackdowns across the country between August 7 and 12. 

In the News
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04-08-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

Grave military campaigns in Hama, Homs, Daraa and Deir ez-Zor ushered in the first week of Ramadan. The Sunday crackdown, the worst since the start of the Syrian revolution in March, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 136 - some 100 of whom, were killed in Hama. Though the month of Ramadan is meant to be characterized by charitable acts and well wishes, fears of broad scale unrest and violence following daily prayers have only been confirmed as no day since August 1, the first day of Ramadan, has passed without considerable fatalities. As the city of Hama reportedly lay in severe duress, and after months of diplomatic wrangling, the United Nations Security Council responded to the crisis in Syria with a Presidential Statement condemning the "widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities" and calling for an "immediate end to all violence". 
 

In the News
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28-07-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

Last Friday, some 1.2 million Syrians engaged in demonstrations across the country. Though the day was less violent than many that came before it, another 11 people were killed in security crackdowns against protestors in the days that followed. At the same time, the Syrian government issued new draft laws on political parties and elections - moves interpreted by some as significant efforts toward reform and by others as empty gestures. Debate over the future of the crisis continues, with key thinkers maintaining that sectarian conflict is largely off the table - if sectarian woes were going to overtake the country, they would have done so ages ago - and others declaring such an outcome nothing short of inevitable. Tomorrow will bring another day of mass after-prayers protests and Ramadan is only a handful of days away. Many believe that the nature of the unrest that will ensue in the coming month, is key to understanding the country's future.
In the News
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21-07-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

Highly conflictual reportage on the nature of the outbreak of violence in the central city of Homs over the weekend has dominated international headlines since Saturday, while opposition talks scheduled to meet simultaneously in Istanbul and Damascus on July 16 hit significant obstacles amid opposition divisions and a security crackdown against the Damascus meeting point. The Qatari government withdrew its Ambassador from Syria and closed its embassy on Monday, while Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Moallem imposed travel restrictions against the US and French ambassadors on July 20. As the month of Ramadan quickly approaches and disturbing levels of violence in Homs carry on amid the impasse between the government and opposition, there is no sign of respite from pervasive tensions across the country.

In the News
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15-07-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

The last 10 days saw international media coverage of the ongoing revolutionary tumult in Syria, largely hijacked by reportage on the increasing diplomatic tensions between Syria and the United States and France. While Syrians continue to take to the streets in massive numbers across the country, a controversial trip by US and French Ambassadors Ford and Chevallier to Hama on July 7- 8, followed by mob attacks on the US and French embassies on July 11, and harsh verbals exchanges between Damascus and Washington in the hours that ensued, took centre stage in foreign reportage. In the comparative background, the planning meetings of the government-led national dialogue started and finished with inconclusive results as the protest movement, now officially in its fifth month, carries on with another 19 protestors killed in unrest in Damascus, Idlib, and Deir ez-Zor today, July 15. 

In the News
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06-07-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

After 300,000 protestors took to the streets of Hama in reportedly peaceful protest on Friday July 1, and thousands of others demonstrated in towns across the country, it seems the Syrian protest movement is now gaining critical mass. Nevertheless, while members of the opposition grow increasingly organized, the chasm between older dissidents and young protestors widens. The date set by President al-Assad for the start of the National Dialogue - July 10 - is rapidly approaching, yet many members of the opposition refuse to participate. The stalemate between the government and the protestors drags on, with the economy in tatters and growing concern that anticipated unrest during the upcoming month of Ramadan will bring the country to its knees.

In the News
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29-06-2011

Syria's Protest Movement

In a development hailed as a sign of change in Syria by some, and deemed a mere PR exercise of the Syrian government by others, Syrian opposition met for the first time in public in Damascus on Monday June 27. The same day, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad set July 10, 2011 as the start date for national dialogue, stating that participation would be open to all "national and political figures". Simultaneously, however, violence continued across the country. Another 15 people died in unrest on June 24 as thousands continued to flow across the border into Turkey and Lebanon. Meanwhile, the diplomatic spotlight remains firmly on Turkey, with many continuing to view its response to the turmoil in Syria, as the ultimate indicator of its future role in the region.