Syria Mixes Carrots with Sticks

Syrians mix intimidation with signs of flexibility to deflate demonstrations.

Tags: Bashar Assad
Aryeh Ben Hayim , | updated: 6:31 PM

Bashar Al-Assad
Bashar Al-Assad
Wikipedia

 


Despite a "carrot and stick" approach taken by the authorities in Syria, protests continued today in the southern city of Daraa, 62 miles from Damascus. The epicenter was the vicinity of a mosque that was transformed into a field hospital on Friday after Syrian police opened fire on protesters killing 7. A witness told the German DPA press agency. 'A demonstration is taking place near al-Omari mosque where there are more than 300 wounded people,'

The government displayed the "stick" by arresting dozens of journalists and students throughout Syria over the past 10 days. However, street demonstrations have proliferated, demanding an end to state of emergency law enforcement and calling for greater freedom.

Daraa has been sealed off, according to according to Mazen Darwish, a Damascus based human rights advocate; people are allowed out but not in.

At the same time, the government is attempting to appear conciliatory. The most recent action was the reported sacking today of  Faisal Kalthoum from his position as governor of Daraa on Tuesday. Kalthoum, who has served in this post since 2006, was accused of being corrupt .

In addition, local notables have been encouraged to submits lists of specific grievances in return for disbanding demonstrations that support  broader demands. Families of slain demonstrators have been paid condolence visits by government ministers. The police have been instructed to avoid using live ammunition, and the official media portrays them as resisting the demonstrations with bare hands and without the use of weapons.. 



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