Syria Update, October 12, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)
Early death toll: 51, most in Idlib province
Thursday’s death toll: More than 260 people were killed including 86 civilians. 92 Syrian military troops and 11 defected soldiers were killed. 60 opposition fighters were killed.
October 20 will be observed as a Global Day of Solidarity with the People of Syria
Anti-regime Demonstrations took place today all over Syria as they have on virtually every Friday afternoon following the congregational prayer. Here is just one of them in Talbisa in Homs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yiie_2Z-lWA&feature=youtu.be
Aleppo province: The body of the director of the Aleppo University Hospital, Dr. Mahmoud Tsasabehji, apparently assassinated, was found near Aleppo by state security forces. One of Hizbullah’s news sites says that he had been kidnapped weeks ago by gunmen on his way to work.
The Syrian military fired on a demonstration in Bustan al-Qasr killing 10 persons. The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of al-Naqarin, al-Sakhour, and al-Sha`ar. Clashes are ongoing in al-Sakhour.
The Syrian military shelled the town of Khan al-A’sal.
Damascus province: 5 unidentified corpses were found in the Baraza neighborhood. Syrian military forces shelled Daraya and Masraba causing injuries. The Syrian military shelled the city of Douma, the towns of Rankous and KafrBatna and the agricultural areas around it. The Syrian military shelled Harasta, using military helicopters. Clashes took place between the Syrian military and opposition fighters in the al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya in an attempt by regime forces to storm the area. The Syrian military also shelled the fields of the Ghouta al-Sharqiyya.
Dara`a province: The Syrian opposition killed 14 Syrian military troops as they attacked an army checkpoint at Khirbata, and 6 of the opposition were killed in this operation. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Dael, Azra and Al-Jiza, causing injuries and destroying homes.
Hama province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Ashrana killing 1. Syrian regime forces detained a civilian from al-Shiha, and tortured him to death.
Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the towns of Heish and Kafrsajna killing 3 civilians, including 2 children. Clashes took place on the outskirts of Ma`arat al-Nu`man and 3 opposition fighters including a commander were killed. Heavy clashes took place by the Wadi al-Dayf military barracks, near Ma`arat al-Nu`man. The Syrian military shelled M’arshourin and M’arshshamsha.
Tartous province: The 8 workers shot here by unknown gunmen yesterday as they returned from Lebanon were Syrian Kurds from the A’frin area of Aleppo province.
Opposition-held areas face a law and order challenge. Here, a look at Minbej: http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/tough-task-syria-rebels-try-restore-law-and-order
Refugees: Internally displaced Syrian will face harsh conditions in the winter months. Many have no housing, others lost their temporary shelter in schools when they opened last month. Most cannot afford fees for medical treatment. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/12/syria-crisis-displaced-idUSL6E8L9NYJ20121012?type=marketsNews
Turkey sent two fighter planes to the Syrian border with Syria after a Syrian military helicopter bombed the Syrian border town of Azmarin.
The Turkish prime minister announced that Russian munitions intended for the Syrian government were found by Turkish authorities on a Syrian Arab Airlines flight which was forced to land on Wednesday in Ankara while traveling from Moscow to Damascus. The Syrian government reacted angrily claiming that Turkey acted improperly by using military aircraft to force the plane to land, and that it was carrying no weapons and that Erdogan was lying. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/world/middleeast/syria.html
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle is traveling to Turkey to hear for himself what was seized or involved in the downing of the Syrian commercial jet, and to attend meetings on the Syrian conflict and Turkish-Syrian tensions.
The Qatari foreign minister, Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiya says his country is not sending arms to the Syrian opposition nor money to purchase arms, but that the United Nations should allow countries to provide such support and create a no-fly zone to protect civilians. He said that Qatar is supplying food and medicine to the opposition.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has denied details of a news story in Yediot Ahranot on Israel’s involvement in secret peace talks with Syria between 2010 and 2011 via an American mediator. The story claimed that Netenyahu had offered to return the Golan Heights and retreat to the northern shore of the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). Netanyahu’s office said that the withdrawal offer was part of a U.S. initiative. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/12/us-israel-syria-idUSBRE89B0O320121012
October 13: Villejuif, France. Demonstration in solidarity with the Syrian revolution
October 14: Sydney, Australia. Demonstration in condemnation of Assad’s crimes
October 20: Global day of solidarity with the people of Syria. See events in your own country. For example: October 20 – 20:00 in UTC+02 at World Wide, España-GRANADA: PLAZA NUEVA; Paris, France Demonstration in solidarity with the Syrian revolution
A book review of interest: http://politique-etrangere.com/2012/10/04/syrie-letat-de-barbarie/
Among Syria’s Creative Figures:
Muhammad al-Maghut, poet, noted for his free verse (1934 -2006) born in Salamiyya to an Isma’ili family.
Nizar al-Qabbani, 1923-1998, born in Damascus. His sister, ten years his senior, committed suicide rather than marry a man she did not love and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was also a diplomat and a publisher.
Zakariyya Tamir, born in 1931 in Damascus, famed for short stories, for adults and children. He supports the Syrian revolution and hopes that Syria will be liberated from “tyranny and horror.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/
Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.
Duraid Lahham born in 1934 in Damascus. A comedian and director known for his character, “Ghawwar al-Toushe.” He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and is considered to be a supporter of Bashar al-Assad and not of the opposition.
Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.
Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.
Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, philosopher and scholar was born in Damascus in 1934 and earned a Ph.D. in 1961 from Yale. His 1969 book, Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini in which he criticized the misuse of religion and caused his imprisonment in Lebanon. He wrote at least six books and many articles since, including a critique of ‘Orientalism.’ http://en.qantara.de/wcsite.php?wc_c=15850
Assala Nasri, born in 1969 in Damascus as the daughter of a Syrian composer, Mostafa Nasri. She has produced 23 albums and many singles including “Ah, law ha-l kursi bye7ki” and has a dramatic and powerful singing style. She supports the Syrian revolution.
Sabah Fakhri, born in 1933 in Aleppo is perhaps the greatest traditional-style singer of the Eastern Arab world, of muwashahhat and qudud Halabiyya. He did not follow the typical musical path of pursuing a singing career in Egypt, preferring to remain in Syria.
Mayada al-Hinnawi, born in 1957 in Aleppo. A great singer whose popularity peaked in the 1980s. She sang the compositions of Baligh Hamdi, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.
Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), a poet, born in 1930 in al-Qassabin, Latakia to a farming family. After being imprisoned for a year, he left Syria in 1956 for Beirut. He has published many collections of poetry in which he experimented with various modernist forms and received numerous awards for his poetry. He lives in Paris. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9297
Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012).
Hanna Mina, novelist, born in 1924 in Iskenderun and raised in Latakia, and for a period in his life, he wasan exile in China. He described his education as the “university of dark poverty.” He wrote 40 novels including the autobiographical The Swamp. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/5584
Mohammad Malas, filmmaker, born in 1945 in Quneitra and studied cinema in Moscow. He won awards for his many films including Ahlam al-Madina, al-Layl and Bab al-Maqam.
Selwa al-Neimi, poet and author, was born in Damascus and left for Paris in the mid-70s. She has published three volumes of poetry, a collection of short stories and is best known for her erotic novel, The Proof of Honey.
Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-intervie
Saadallah Wannous, 1941 – 1997, a playwright, born in Hussein al-Bahr near Tartus. His writing career began in the early 1960s. He introduced a “theater of politicization,” helped to found the Arab Festival for Theater Arts and the Higher Institute for Theater Arts (where he taught).
Issa Touma is a photographer, curator and director of Le Pont Organization, who supports the revolution. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/38262/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/Art-sees-light-within-the-Syrian-Revolution.aspx
George Wassouf, born in Kafroun, Tartus in 1961, is a popular singer of Arabic music with more than 30 albums released. He has supported Bashar al-Assad and has been criticized for praising the Syrian army.
Samir Zikra, filmmaker, born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo. His films include al-Sakran Yanfi (based on a Naguib Mahfouz novel) al-Matar Saba`in, Lan Nansa, al-Shuhud, `Anha, Hadithat al-Nusf Metr, Waqa`ih al-`Amm al-Muqbel. He coauthored a script for Baqaya Suwar (based on a Hanna Mina novel), coauthored the script for Mohammad Malas’ Ahlam al-Madina, and directed Turab al-Ghuraba (about Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi) in 1998 and `Alaqat `Ammah in 2005.
Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest
Basic Facts about Syria:
Population: 22,530,746 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).
GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion
GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%
Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)
Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar
Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)
Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict)
Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%
Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)
Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.
Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.