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Posts Tagged ‘SANA’

I met a couple of young Syrian guys last night over an Iftar meal and the topic of conversation inevitably turned to politics. One of them compared the Syrian uprising to the recent spat of mindless looting and rioting in London. He asked if it was the beginning of a revolution; were these the first signs of open protest against the British government? I laughed until I realised he was being sincere. No, I explained, they were just criminals causing chaos. They weren’t demanding anything, just availing themselves of high-end electronics.

One of these chaps, an 18 year old who has been protesting in Douma on a regular basis, interrupted me and remarked, quite astutely, that I sounded just like SANA. Being likened to the Syrian state media service, a factory of clumsy propaganda, was somewhat insulting but I got his point. The state media had said exactly the same things in reference to the protest movement in Syria: They’re not protestors with legitimate demands, just violent criminals. It’s easy to understand that for much of the Middle East, suspicious from years of state lies and propaganda, it would have been natural to assume that the media was lying.

Unfortunately, the BBC isn’t covering up a popular uprising emerging from the streets of Hackney. It’s just good, ol’ fashioned rioting.

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The Assad regime has been far from delicate in it’s handling of the protests but when it employs gunboats to subdue the unrest you know that things have taken a turn for the worse. Navy ships started shelling the port city on Sunday in coordination with an attack by tanks, soldiers and paramilitary troops.

This is a worrying escalation of violence, especially as Syrians and foreign observers had hoped that the recent international pressure, including a visit by the Turkish Foreign Minister and ambassador recalls by several Gulf states, would at the very least bring a temporary respite from the government violence.

The assault came after large-scale protests in the city on Friday and followed the same less-than-subtle pattern as previous attacks on dissenting populations: deployment of tanks, cutting of water and electricity, all followed by sweeping arrests and random gunfire.

Unsurprisingly, SANA has denied that Navy ships were used in the attack: “The [SANA] Correspondent refuted some satellite channels’ claims of bombarding the mentioned neighbourhood from the sea, indicating that what is really taking place is a pursuit of gunmen”.

I’m guessing that this latest round of violence will leave many diplomats and foreign politicians wondering what to do next. The recent visit from the Turkish Foreign Minister and the emergence of a loose anti-Assad bloc in the region has so far done little to deter the regime from its violent rampage across Syria.

Smoke rising from Latakia on Sunday

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