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Sat May 19, 2012, 11:05 AM

Aleppo Joins the Syrian Revolution: Are al-Assadís Days Numbered?

The largest demonstrations held in Syriaís second city, Aleppo, since the beginning over a year ago of the revolutionary movement in that country, were held on Friday. In part, they were provoked by the brutality of regime troops toward student protesters at the university in Aleppo on Thursday. The Baathist regime of President Bashar al-Assad responded with tear gas and batons, and there were some injuries reported. Tens of thousands of people came out in the streets in other cities as well on Friday in a continued effort to topple the regime.

Aleppo is a city of about 2 million (roughly the size of Houston) in a country of about 22 million, and is the most populous urban area (the capital, Damascus, has slightly fewer people but is obviously more politically important). About 12 percent of the population of Aleppo is Christian, and it has Kurds among its Sunni Muslims.

Because the Syrian Christians had been fearful of Muslim extremists coming to power if al-Assad were overthrown, they havenít been active in the revolt for the most part. (Some of the Christians there are refugees from Iraq, who have horror stories of what happens to Christians when a secular ruling party like the Baath is overthrown, and they have helped induce caution in their coreligionists in Syria and Lebanon). And many Sunni business families in Aleppo, of a secular bent, had the same fears.

But if the regime is going to send uniformed thugs onto the college campus and rough up their children, the Aleppines can be provoked. And they were, on Friday.


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Reply Aleppo Joins the Syrian Revolution: Are al-Assadís Days Numbered? (Original post)
tabatha May 2012 OP
tabatha May 2012 #1
On the Road May 2012 #2

Response to tabatha (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2012, 11:07 AM

1. ... of simply being tenacious and non-violent, has a real chance of success ...

This huge demonstration in Aleppo shows that the strategy of the urban protesters in Syria, of simply being tenacious and non-violent, has a real chance of success, because as the regime represses more and more people, it provokes bigger and bigger crowds all over the country. The minority who have taken up arms and the fringe that has set off bombs have been far, far less successful politically. In fact, the Free Syrian Army, made up of defectors with weapons, which has tried to assert control in some city districts throughout the country, has just provoked artillery barrages and tank attacks from the well-armed Baath army, and the rebels have repeatedly been annihilated when they have tried to stand their ground.

The demonstrations and violence (some 23 people were killed, mainly protesters, on Friday) came as some 250 UN observers continued to fan out throughout the country. The mission has had some success in deterring massive artillery assaults by the regime on urban areas, but it seems pretty clear that the presence of the observers is not making a huge difference. The idea that the Baath regime will negotiate with the revolutionaries and give up some power in favor of a more pluralistic system (as happened in Yemen) is somewhat fantastic. The Baath in Syria is an old twentieth-century style one-party police state and does not play well with other children. In contrast, Yemen had already had a transition to multiparty elections in the 1990s, however fragile.

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Response to tabatha (Original post)

Sat May 19, 2012, 01:46 PM

2. I am So Happy to Hear This

The failure of the armed uprisings was so depressing.

The involvement of Aleppo is huge. So is Christian involvement.

It sounds like Syria is unique -- very strange to see nonviolence and armed rebellion at the same time. I just hope they can work through this with minimal loss of life.

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