Not a great Eid in Syria. The traditional open air Eid prayers turned into anti-regime demonstrations and, as usual, the regime’s insecurity forces fired at the demonstrators. At least twenty three people were murdered today, including an infant. Many of the dead were in the central city of Homs, which has been a veritable war zone for weeks, the site of clashes between loyalist and defected soldiers as well as tank bombardments and sniper fire from the regime. In the last four days, since the regime supposedly agreed to release prisoners and withdraw its forces from civilian areas according to the Arab League plan, at least 80 people have been reported killed in the city.
There is one piece of very important good news, however. Burhan Ghalyoun, leader of the Syrian National Council, delivered an Eid address to the Syrian people which was carried by al-Jazeera. Ghalyoun, who does not wish to become a future president, was truly presidential. He appealed to those Syrians still hesitant or afraid to support the revolution, assuring them that the future Syria will be a state of citizenship and equal rights, and that minorities will be protected. Bringing larger sections of the Alawi and Christian minorities on board is the only way for the revolution to move forward, so Ghalyoun’s speech is most welcome, and long overdue. The English translation which follows after the break was posted at al-Jazeera’s live blog, but I found it at the excellent Walls.
The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 ran a segment on Amnesty International’s investigation of 88 deaths by torture in Syrian custody in recent months. The 88 include 10 children. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Thousands are missing. Following the report there’s an interview with Andrew Green, a former British ambassador to Syria, and with me. I agree with Andrew Green’s final comment, that the lack of a recognisable alternative to the regime constitutes a major obstruction in the way of the revolution. It does seem, however, that a consensus opposition council is now slowly emerging, including Syrians inside and outside the country, and of a broad range of political inclinations. Best of all, it seems that Burhan Ghalyoun is emerging as the opposition’s leader or figurehead. Ghalyoun is a popular secular intellectual. If Islamist voices are accepting him as a compromise figure, this is proof of their growing maturity.
Jadaliyya has translated an interview with prominent Syrian oppositionist Burhan Ghalyoun – well worth reading. He addresses those Syrian intellectuals still “poisoned by the idea that the regime is the foundation for an opposition and resistance to Israel, even though Rami Makhlouf, one of the regime’s pillars, stated that the security and stability of Israel is tied to the stability of Syria’s current regime,” and continues: “There is no danger for the Palestinian cause in the shadow of a democratic Syrian system. The Syrian people are closest to the Palestinian people, and they are more protective of the Palestinian cause, the Golan Heights, and Arab solidarity than the current regime whose leaders have made the country feudal and do not care for anything except for protecting their own interests and existence.”