Thursday, May 12, 2011

There is No Revolution in Syria (...Yet)

No Momentum Yet For Syrian Uprising

Sky News
May 11, 2011

A British journalist who reported undercover from Syria believes the uprising there is not gaining momentum and that the regime has a grip on the country.

Martin Fletcher, from The Times, was speaking to Sky News in Beirut after crossing the border late on Tuesday. He said there is a mixed picture across the country; "Damascus is surprisingly calm and there is quite a lot of support for the president there," he said.

"The only time you're really aware of it is on Fridays when the security forces flood onto the streets.

"I tried to get to Deera but the town was surrounded by tanks. People couldn't get in or out, basically the town is under military occupation".

In Homs, Fletcher was arrested by the Mukhubarat - the secret police.

He said: "It was very tense, the streets deserted, the shops shut, there were police, tanks and army everywhere with sandbagged gun emplacements outside government buildings.

"On the outskirts of town there were at least 100 tanks parked in lines. I was detained and taken to a secret detention centre in the basement of an anonymous apartment block.

"At the end of a corridor was a steel door and by it a large mound of belts and shoelaces.

"My taxi driver, who'd also been arrested, was taken through the door and when it opened I could see scores of young men sitting huddled on the floor.

"I was held for about six hours and all during this time young men were being brought in. Some were literally whimpering with fear, others were defiant."

Fletcher also went to Hama, where the government slaughtered tens of thousands of people during an uprising in 1982 but said he found it "calm and peaceful".

This is one of several reasons he believes the Assad regime will prevail.

"The regime is remarkably united and the opposition is scattered," he said.

"It doesn't have a focus or an obvious leadership. I don't think this is going anywhere for now however, down the road, maybe in a year, things might change.

"The government is printing money, the tourism industry has collapsed, there's going to be higher unemployment and inflation and then a broader section of people may join in, but for now it doesn't seem to be going anywhere."

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