A big news day in Syria – over 100 people were murdered including 70 Army defectors gunned down en masse, the regime releases detained blogger Razan Ghazzawi (discussed here and here), and Assad allowed [NYT] Arab League monitors to enter Syria. James Miller skeptically connects the dots:
In recent days, the main-stream media has been focused on negotiations between Assad and the Arab League. The Syrian regime pledged to allow international observers, a move that could have led to the end of the violence. But this is not the first time we've seen such a move. Syrian President Bashar al Assad has already pledged to remove his troops from his cities, but then immediately increased the troops in some cities. The regime then explained that they were now allowing peaceful protests, per the demands of the Arab League, but they were trying to restore security and put down insurgency and terrorism. In other words, the regime had no intention of ending its siege in places like Homs.
However, each time such an agreement has been made, the opposition has staged large rallies in order to test the words of the Assad regime. This rally, this large, during the day, this close to Damascus, in arguably the most important neighborhood in the capital – this was the test. The security forces opened fire. The Assad regime has failed this test.
David Mepham takes a close look at the appalling military whose conduct the Arab League will be observing. POMED summarizes a Congressional hearing on Syria, while Barry Rubin gets angry at Obama for not doing enough to help Syria. Erica Chenoweth conveys 10 pieces of advice for how civilians can help even if their governments won't. Among them:
Help the nonviolent opposition publicize successes: Syrians need to see that civil resistance is working to discourage them from giving up, taking up arms, or waiting for outside military intervention. Every regime concession (e.g. release of prisoners, allowing in monitors, etc.) and concrete sign of regime isolation needs to be credited to the courageous nonviolent resistance. Embassies should publicly credit the nonviolent opposition for successes and help them publicize victories over the TV, radio and other channels of communication.
This is a big protest in Hama:
Hama is also where 10 year old girl Amira al-Ahmad was mutilated beyond recognition: