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These protests are encouraging, but unfortunately, there have been no significant defections of soldiers or government officials, as seen in the other countries where uprisings have taken place. This is discouraging, but there are many cases of soldiers and police refusing to obey orders to kill their fellow citizens. The interior minister fired a group of police officers, including the commander of Latakia Province earlier this month. Nine soldiers were executed in Banias and the regime put forward three “citizens” responsible for killing them. They had no signs of torture, and one was identified as a high-level security official. It was obviously a staged event meant to hide the news about the loyalties of the military. The Reform Party of Syria has also reported on a possible assassination campaign against high-level army officers whose loyalty is in question.
On April 14, at least one soldier was killed at Ras al-Naba’a, where the regime’s Allawite Shabbeha militia has taken hold. In Inkhil near Daraa, the chief of police and 17 other police officers have been fired for disobeying orders. A powerful video has been released of soldiers leading demonstrators in Daraa and firing their guns in the air. In Latakia, the bruised corpse of a soldier was brought to his family. The regime claims he was accidentally electrocuted to death. It is because of incidents like these that the Syrian army and security services now report to an Iranian Revolutionary Guards base in Homs Province.
The White House has condemned the violence in Syria, and to its credit, the State Department has confirmed reports that Iran is providing covert assistance to the Assad regime. The Iranians are giving riot gear, advice and help with monitoring the electronic communications of the opposition. Michael Ledeen reports that 350 to 400 cameras have been installed in traffic lights. However, the Syrian opposition is still disappointed with the Obama administration, whose Secretary of State recently called Bashar Assad a “reformer” and has not withdrawn its ambassador.
“The White House has to date rejected our requests for stronger action on Syria,” an unofficial spokesman for the opposition named Ammar Abdulhamid told the Washington Times. Radwan Ziadeh, the director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, has also complained of the “lukewarm” response from the White House. They are asking for a U.N. resolution with the sole purpose of condemning the Syrian government, a strong public statement by President Obama, and sanctions on regime officials behind the violence. The National Security Council staff has had at least two meetings with representatives of the Syrian opposition, but this has yet to result in substantive action.
Bashar Assad has the blood of countless U.S. soldiers, Iraqis, Israelis and Syrians on his hands. He is a major sponsor of terrorism with WMD programs and is Iran’s best ally. The Syrian opposition is asking for small, cost-free measures to protect at least innocent Syrians from being arrested, killed and wounded, not military action. If the U.S. is unwilling to take the softest of measures against one of its major enemies, then it is no wonder why it is looked upon as a power that extremists shouldn’t fear.
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