Socialist Worker

Mass protests in Syria defy regime

by Siân Ruddick
Published Tue 21 Feb 2012
Issue No. 2291

International pressure is mounting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Egypt withdrew its ambassador from the capital Damascus on Sunday of last week. Libya and Tunisia had already withdrawn their ambassadors.

Meanwhile the Western-backed “Friends of Syria” group of countries was due to meet in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Friday of this week.

The group was formed after Russia and China used their vetoes to block moves for intervention in the United Nations.

Contradictory

It will discuss possible intervention in Syria, including sanctions and military action.

The Arab League is playing a contradictory role in Syria. It is currently considering arming the opposition and working within Friends of Syria.

This would bounce the US into an awkward situation because many of Barack Obama’s advisers are calling for caution.

The mainstream press has characterised the conflict in Syria as becoming militarised.

It’s true that more army defections and the formation of the Free Syrian Army have made this aspect more visible. But this is not a purely military conflict.

The mass demonstrations, often at funerals, and the school and university walkouts are central to the uprising.

And strikes by workers, while limited, have also played an important role.

Regime forces have killed around 7,000 people since the protests began in March last year.

Threaten

But the revolt continues to threaten president Assad’s murderous regime.

And the protests are not going away. They are now strengthening in Damascus.

Thousands of people protested last weekend despite a security clampdown.

In the capital, armored vehicles, soldiers and the pro-Assad thugs known as the Shabiha surrounded the funeral of Samer al-Khatib, a young protester.

Security forces had shot Samer dead on Saturday—while he was attending a mass funeral for other protesters killed by police on Friday.

Later on Sunday tens of thousands came out onto the streets close to the city centre in one of the biggest protests since the revolt began.

Some workers there also struck on Sunday. Markets were closed and shops were shuttered on what is usually a full working day.

Soldiers loyal to the regime tried to prevent school walkouts in the city.

But the Local Coordination Committee reported that student protests erupted after school in the Damascus districts of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Midan, Jubar and Barzeh.

“Humanitarian” intervention and Western bombs and troops will not liberate ordinary people in Syria.

Sanctions will only make life harder for those already fighting for their lives.

The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia have shown how to get rid of vicious dictators.

The Syrian revolt can win.


Article information

International
Tue 21 Feb 2012, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2291
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