For Immediate Release
Syria and Yemen
WASHINGTON - ELAINE HAGOPIAN, echagop at verizon.net
Hagopian is a Syrian-American sociologist, a professor emeritus of sociology at Simmons College in Boston and political interviewer for Arabic Hour TV. She said today: “There is and has been in Syria an authentic desire for real democracy, for real economic opportunity, for elimination of the vast corruption and privilege given to the Alawites, the powerful minority base of the Assad regime. The protesters were not originally calling for President Bashar Assad’s removal, but for vast reforms. Bashar initially ignored these demands and then began to offer, but not fulfill some of them. As the massive killings continued, demands grew for Bashar to go. Now as Syria begins to disintegrate, and its Army is witnessing defections, the question remains, is it Bashar Assad who is giving orders to kill his people a la his father’s iron fist approach, or is it the combined Alawite-dominated security, military, Ba’ath Party and the Shahiba thugs who give the orders to which he accedes?
“In addition to the authentic protesters operating in Syria, there are external forces operating there as claimed by the regime. The Syrian Muslim Brothers have returned, are the best organized and are getting external support most likely from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both countries, but especially Saudi Arabia, are concerned about the growing Iranian regional power. Syria’s alliance with Iran worries Gulf monarchs. Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in expanding the Gulf Cooperation Council to include Jordan and Morocco — so it has become a council of monarchies — to prevent democratic movements in those countries as well as to challenge Iran’s dominance. It is also well known that the U.S. has backed Syrian opposition groups. WikiLeaks cables verify this.”
Hagopian just wrote the piece “Syria: Bashar Assad’s Missed Opportunity?”
SUSANNE DAHLGREN, susanne.dahlgren at helsinki.fi
Dahlgren writes frequently on Yemen. She is Academy of Finland research fellow with the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and the author of “Contesting Realities: The Public Sphere and Morality in Southern Yemen.” She said this morning: “Today is Friday and huge demonstrations are to be expected. As always, the demos have a name. The supporters of the revolution call it ‘Friday, The Demands of the Revolution’ and Saleh supporters: ‘Loyalty to the Country and the Leader.’ Meanwhile in the southern province of Abyan, fighting is going on between troops loyal to Ali Abdullah Salih and troops of the defected General Ali Muhsen against each other and against the Jihadists whom the security forces allowed to invade the town of Zingibar two weeks ago.
“The U.S. [is using this] opportunity to continue drone attacks against al-Qaeda and managed this time to hit targeted al-Qaeda member Ali al-Harithi. Still, U.S. attacks are extremely unpopular among the population because they claim civilian casualties. Zingibar has turned into a hell where bodies lie on the streets and fleeing civilians are targeted by the forces that are supposed to fight the Jihadists only. This is the chaos Ali Abdullah Salih wanted to create in order to prove the world that he is needed to stop the chaos. Meanwhile, local reports from Abyan indicate that the group of Jihadists is small and does not constitute a big problem to be removed.”
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