Syrian Revolution Bookmarks #3

1- The Syrian Revolt Enters New Phase published on LENIN’S TOMB:

Finally, there is the question of the FSA’s human rights record.  Those who want to oppose the revolt say that the armed insurgents are a bunch of thugs or even – some will actually use this propaganda term – ‘terrorists’.  Well, the fact is that the armies have captured and tortured and killed people they believed to be regime supporters or informants. I believe they have blown up regime apparatuses and probably have killed civilians in the process.  My answer?  You can criticise this or that attack, you can say that the Islamists who bombed Damascus and issued a sectarian statement are not allies of revolution.  But you can’t keep saying this is a ‘civil war’ and then express shock when one side, the weaker side, the side that has been attacked and provoked, the side that is ranged against a repressive dictatorship, actually fights a war.

2- Assad Apologists: The Ostrich Syndrome published by Hicham Safieddine:

instead of invoking Fanon, apologists will go so far as to invoke Lenin’s quote about third-party politics, which is really a language trick no different than someone quoting Tony Blair’s own reference to a “third way” in order to undermine third-way politics in Syria. Lenin was at times more than willing to compromise when it came to dealing with imperialist forces (i.e., the Brest Liovsk treaty). In the instance of his critique of third-way politics, the communist leader was actually more concerned with class struggle and was contemptuous of those, like liberal socialists, who did not take a firm and uncompromising position in this struggle against the bourgeois class. In fact, a reference that would have better served Assad apologists is Lenin’s disagreement with Rosa Luxemburg over backing the third-world bourgeoisie. Lenin’s critique of third-way politics may thus ironically lend itself more to backing calls for no compromise with Assad, given that the Syrian uprising’s class composition is largely made up of the countryside peasantry and suburban working class. It is true that the peasantry have a very dubious representation in the intellectual history of Marxism. In the case of Syria, the dominant political expression of their uprising has not only taken on a reactionary form (read “religious” in Marxist terms). It is in fact, contrary to what many pro-uprising folks want us to believe for romantic or more sinister reasons, backed by imperialist and reactionary regional regimes. However, admitting this problematic political expression of the uprising necessitates a third way, not a stance that is apologetic for the Assad regime.

Kafarsousah Neighborhood, Damascus.

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UPDATED: Blogging Live From Midan Neighborhood in Damascus

A little background on Midan neighborhood: Midan neighborhood is one of the first neighborhoods that rebelled in the Syrian capital, it witnessed huge demonstrations calling for the downfall of Assad.  It’s a conservative area.

In the beginning of the revolution protesters used to head to Midan to take part in protesters.  The neighborhood is in the center of Damascus.


I arrived Midan with a friend at 12:30 PM today 18-7-2012, there was a shooting very close to us but we managed to arrive safely. I cannot share my location with you in Midan, nor can I say who’s with me here. We are safe so far.

Clashes started early in the morning and it’s still on, we sometimes hear explosions every now and then, the residents of area here are telling us there are BMB tanks shelling the center of the area.

Remains of BMB tank shell in Midan neighborhood.

There are several checkpoints in the area, but the area we’re in right now is relatively safe thus far, there are four people martyred today in Midan alone; 3 from Free Syrian Army and the fourth is a civilian- an old man we couldn’t find his ID with him, we’re in the process of getting his name.

Update: 3:02 PM: clashes now in Haa’la area in Midan.

Update: 3:15 PM: according to leaked information coming from a soldier in the regime sympathetic with the revolution, the regime is planning to fire (sorry I am not familiar with the right to use here) toxic gases against the residents in Midan neighborhood that resulted in shortness of breath and heartburn in the respiratory tract. Medical masks are distributed among the residents and activists here. (update 11:58: no toxic gas were used against the residents here. The problem is that the area is under siege and the people are scared and on alert, it’s easy for them to believe any rumor, and you believe it with them because you literally could die any moment by mortar shelling. It creates an extreme stress and you become emotional than objective with your context. Apologies for publishing news hastily, I shall be careful more tomorrow.)

The activists here are in high spirit, it’s hectic over here but we smoke and drink tea (I am drinking tea now) and we joke all the time.

Update from 3:30 PM till 8:00 PM: Regime tried to raid the neighborhood in this way: the army withdrew, but the tanks remained around the area in attempt to siege it and was shelling on the area, then the snipers gathered heavily in the area, along with aircrafts hovering around the area to locate the activists, doctors and free Syrian army.

It’s important to say here that the field hospital was located by the regime and tried to mortar shelling it but couldn’t hit it, the doctors moved to safe place now.

Update 11:17 PM clashes continues near regime checkpoints. Two people were injured, their injuries are not critical, they were hit by snipers. I learned that there is a safe refuge for women in this neighborhood, and the men here are telling me to head there before it gets too late. I am having dinner now with citizen journalists and photojournalists, we’re eating tomato and mortadella. Come join us.

Syrian Blogger Hussein Ghrer on Hunger Strike in Protest of his Fifth Month in Detention

We received information that Syrian blogger Hussein Greer began a hunger strike to protest his continued incarceration after spending more than five months in detention cells as of the date of this statement.

Ghrer was detained on 16-2-2012 in a raid on Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression’s office in Damascus by Air Force Intelligence – Mazzah branch. This is Ghrer’s second arrest; he was detained on 24-10-2011 and released on 1-12-2011 on bail and is still on trial.

 Air Force Intelligence had confiscated computers and arrested the entire staff of the Syrian Center along with their visitors. Eight employees were released and they are now under martial court on charges of “disseminating banned publications.” The other five staff members are still in detention: director of the Syrian Center for Media and freedom of Expression, Mazen Darwish, Hussein Ghrer, Abdel Rahman Hamada, Hani Zetani and Mansour Al-Omari.

We learned that Abdel Rahman Hmada, Hani Zitani and Mansour Al- Omari were transferred from Air Force Intelligence – Mazzah branch, to a detention center belonging to the 4th Brigade of the Syrian Army.  Our sources also mentioned that Mazen Darwish was transferred from his cell in AFI – Mazzeh Branch, but it is unknown if his transfer was to another branch or inside the same one.

Syrian blogger Hussein Ghrer, on the other hand, was transferred alone from AFI – Mazzah to AFI in in Tahrir Square in Damascus, where he began a hunger strike to protest his continued detention.

Ghrer is a prominent Syrian blogger known for his noticeable participation in Syrian blogsphere debates on public affairs. He took part in in solidarity campaigns with occupied Palestine and the occupied Golan as well.

33 year-old Ghrer is a Computer Science graduate. He is married with two children, Ward and Zain.

To our great concern, Ghrer suffers from hypertensive vascular disease and mitral valve prolapse. We fear a deterioration in his health condition in Syrian detention cells, known for their poor environmental, psychological and physical conditions. The detention centers’ environment and their lack of the necessary medical equipment may pose a direct threat to his life.

We, Syrian and Arab bloggers as well as bloggers in solidarity with Hussein and his case, demand the immediate and unconditional release of our colleague in detention, blogger and friend Hussein Ghrer especially since more than four months had passed without pressing charges against. His four-month long detention far exceeds the maximum legal limits for incarceration without court referral which is set to 60-days according to Syrian law.

We also call for the release of Ghrer’s colleagues at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and all detainees and prisoners being held at security branches and civil and military prisons, especially those whose detention has exceeded sixty days. We condemn all forms of torture exercised by the Shabiha and security agents against the detainees and prisoners in Syrian cells.