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In the News
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23-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution
On September 18, the Syrian opposition held a crucial six-hour meeting in Syria, bringing young protest organizers and demonstrators together with well-known older generations of dissidents. While meeting participants called upon Syrians to continue protesting in peace, international reportage from around the week suggested that the numbers of protestors out on the streets are dwindling while those still willing to fight for the cause, are increasingly taking up arms. At the same time, rights groups Avaaz and Insan released a report indicating that the death toll from the unrest could be as high as 5,360 - not the 3,004 reported just a week earlier.

In the News
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15-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Thursday September 15 marks the start of the sixth month of the Syrian revolution. The preceding 183 days of social upheaval and corresponding security crackdowns have resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 Syrians - with some 113 killed last week alone. Since the uprising began on March 15, 112 Syrian cities and villages have seen deaths amid security crackdowns, over 80 children have been killed in related security incursions, and over 95 adults have reportedly died whilst under torture in Syrian prisons. Activists and foreign officials estimate that more than 15,000 have been imprisoned, several thousand of whom were effectively 'disappeared'.

In the News
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08-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Violence across the country took a marked turn for the worse this week, with over 80 people killed in security crackdowns and violent attacks across the country in just seven days. International reportage suggests a shift in the violence, perhaps moving beyond security crackdowns by government forces to include a spike in violent attacks against members of the military and security forces. The continued media blackout leaves the nature and scope of the violence a challenge to ascertain. At the same time, the EU moved forward with the implementation of its oil embargo against Syrian crude on Saturday, the French Foreign Minister termed the actions of the Syrian government as "crimes against humanity," and US Ambassador Ford issued another Facebook note stating that, "given the extent of the government’s brutality, neither the Syrian protest movement nor the international community will believe that this Syrian leadership desires or is capable of the deep, genuine and credible reforms that the Syrian people demand."  

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.