Today In Syria: “Darth Bashar”

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 12 2012 @ 8:04pm

The Syrian government, somewhat amusingly, has made an ostensibly pro-Assad video clip that uses the famous Imperial March (the bad guy theme from Star Wars) as a soundtrack. Julien Barnes-Dacy worries Assad's got a better chance at survival than the Emperor:

If Assad is indeed maintaining a certain confidence, this is likely to derive as much as anything from the facts on the ground. While the regime is facing an unprecedented challenge and despite the steady drumbeat of opposition activities for ten months now — including an increase in the number of daily protest over recent weeks (perhaps a positive side-effect of the much-maligned Arab League observer mission) — the balance of power on the ground has not fundamentally shifted in the opposition's favor. Most pointedly, despite growing defections among army conscripts and the burgeoning emergence of the Free Syria Army (FSA), there have been next to no defections among the regime's inner core or the key security apparatuses upon which it depends. Much of the population, despite likely sympathy with opposition aims, has remained on the sidelines; meanwhile, the political opposition continues to squabble among itself, weakening its ability to project credible leadership.

Human rights group Avaaz has an absolutely horrifying report [pdf] on the torture Assad routinely uses to project his own form of "credible leadership." The violence is pushing Arab League monitors to the breaking point, and Robert Danin thinks their report won't be whitewashed. Paul J. Bonicelli thinks Assad is desperate, not strong:

He now faces an uprising that has lasted months and is being led by mutinous soldiers with weapons and thousands of angry citizens who have built up 40 years of hate and desire for revenge against a regime formed by a religious minority. His neighbors no longer acquiesce in the regime's cruelty, and the once complacent Arab League has been moved because of the Arab Spring to act for the good of Arabs instead of simply for Arab leaders.

Rania Abouzeid is scared desperate intensification of the violence will lead to civil war. These students have taken over a street in Dariya, Damascus:

This is clear evidence of the torture Avaaz reported on:

Here's a cartoon from Ali Ferzat, the prominent cartoonist whose hands had been broken in an attempt to silence is pen:


Finally, here's a musical protest in Homs: