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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 12:51 PM

Syrian Protesters Test Fragile Truce; 5 Killed

Source: Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) A Syria cease-fire was largely holding Friday as tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets in the first major test of the U.N.-brokered truce. Activists said regime forces fired live bullets and tear gas in some locations, killing at least five people, but stood back in other areas where demonstrators beat drums and chanted anti-regime slogans.

President Bashar Assad's forces halted the large-scale shelling attacks on opposition strongholds that have pushed the country toward civil war over the past 13 months. But security forces backed by tanks, snipers and plainclothes agents maintained an intimidating presence in the streets and scattered violence was reported.

The U.N.-Arab league envoy, Kofi Annan, hoped to dispatch an advance team of up to 30 observers to Syria as quickly as possible to start monitoring the truce, and the U.N. Security Council was to vote on his request later Friday. If the relative calm holds, a beefed-up mission of up to 250 members was to follow quickly.

<snip>

The truce, which formally took effect Thursday, is at the center of Annan's six-point plan to stop the bloodshed and launch talks on Syria's political future. The uprising began in March 2011 with peaceful protests but became increasingly militarized in response to a brutal crackdown by the regime. The fighting has killed an estimated 9,000 people.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-04-13/syria-clashes/54243490/1?csp=34news

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:23 PM

1. Test failed? n/t

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:43 PM

2. This is why these "cease fires" don't work. The people believe it means they can protest.

It doesn't. It just means that they'll stop shooting at the armed protesters. But if they protest then it emboldens the civilian population (and some of the civilian population can get recruited). Then the civilian population gets silenced yet again. I thought Assad had popular support? What's going on with all these protesters?

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 10:49 PM

3. Protests don't indicate a lack of public support for Assad...

No more than US anti-war protests meant that Bush lacked popular support. Rather, there is a high degree of polarization. As is common, there is also a large segment that is somewhere in between or agnostic about matters and will flow with the forces that appear to be winning.

A real cessation of armed force is not a good thing for the opposition forces, because it would freeze a situation in which the government authorities have state power over the vast proportion of the country and its people. A ceasefire does not preclude the organs of authority from self-defense in case of insurrectionist activities, for instance. Nor would it allow seizure of public or private property by opposition forces. I expect certain opposition elements to attempt to undermine ceasefire.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 10:55 PM

4. Bush did lack popular support.

A real ceasefire would allow protesters to protest unabated, indefinitely, growing in numbers as the disaffected are inspired. This is never to be allowed without it being under strict control. This is why when OWS gets really popular they send in the stormtroopers. To quell the masses.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 11:04 PM

5. Well, he did get reelected by majority vote, notwithstanding mass protests.

You do raise the interesting issue that no state seems to be interesting in not inhibiting mass political protest. But I think this is a separate issue from ceasefire per se. One needn't use live fire to prevent or disperse crowds in public roads and squares.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 11:14 PM

6. With massive voter suppression and a lackluster turnout, sure.

For perspective 45% didn't even vote!

I think ultimately that's what Assad is facing though. Mass protesting without regard for limits. That's what really the Arab Spring was about. Egypt had 2 million people protesting in one area. So how does the opposition capitalize on that? Start shooting. Force Assad's people to use lethal force. Chaos ensues. More recruitments.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 11:26 PM

7. Well, again, ceasefire is unhelpful to the opposition.

"Peace" will freeze the existing power relations. What is rather cynical is the game in the Western capitals of pretending to support the Annan plan, while obliquely criticizing it. What is being proffered by Russia is Polish-style transition, but some in the opposition will only accept a total destruction of the old state and its replacement by a totally new state.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 11:30 PM

8. What the opposition needs is more numbers.

And I am at a loss as to why free protest wouldn't help them recruit.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #8)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 11:53 PM

9. Numbers won't mean anything without seizure of power.

I think that the Syrian opposition could use a respite in order to recruit, organize, re-arm, etc., but those things may not lead it closer to power, but rather to political neutralization. I think that it could be compared with the case of Nepal possibly. The opposition there thought it was seizing power under a UN-supervised peace process, but instead it was assimilated into the existing power structure.

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