And now Iran.....
"According to sketchy reports, an uprising has occurred in the northern Iranian city of Fereydunkenar.Demonstrations are reported to have begun on March 13, in the small town in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran. The demonstrators attacked and were able to liberate a building used by the Islamic Republic's security forces. By midday, the uprising had begun to spread to the city of Babolsar, where demonstrators were confronted by Mazandaran's provincial security forces. At this hour, the town of Fereydunkenar appears divided between the rebels and the security forces.".... more
(with thanks to eye on the world)
Apparently the "disaster" that is liberated Iraq is inspiring other anti-totalitarian forces in neighboring Syria and Iran. And you wonder why radical Islamists and pro-Ba'athists forces want the US and allies out of Iraq
This is an excellent start on the Syrian military. A few years old, but still of value as an overview of the Syrian fighting force.
"Assad wants sectarian war"
Reform Party of Syria now calling for international community to intervene in Syrian uprising
Kurdish revolt=Freedom for all Syrians
The encouraging of Kurdish rebellion in Syria ought to play an integral component of President Bush's Mid-East doctrine of encouraging democracy and pluralism as a necessary bulwark to terror proliferation and extremism. Here's why: Kurds are motivated and hard fighters, momentum is on their side, and the current state of Syrian army is not just tenuous physically and quality wise (both in terms of leadership and command) but psychologically as well. The Ba'ath regime and military command are now finding themselves in an isolated geopolitical environment and while others my disagree with me, I believe that a hardened mobile, and determined Kurdish strike force backed by US air cover could easily route Syrian army or at the very least enact such heavy damage to encourage other Sunni population centers in Damascus and Aleppo to vent popular anger against the regime that has long been festering.
Basically we would be taking a page straight out of Basil Hart's strategy of indirect warfare to enact a lightning fast defeat of Syrian regime with minimal use of hardware and with the support of native population.
We had the opportunity to do the same in '91 and we did not follow through. We cannot afford to squander yet another opportunity like this. The Kurdish uprising might not be sufficient to bring down the Syrian Ba’ath regime, but it sure does constitute a necessary component of any strategy that desires to get rid of a terror-proliferating regime in the most efficient possible manner, militarily and politically.
US warns Syrian Ba'ath
From Ha'artez: "The sources believe that the American delegation has warned the Syrian government that if the riots continue, the situation could get out of control and the Syrians will find it difficult to restrain the Kurdish militias in northern Iraq, who want to come to the aid of the Kurds in Syria."
The US is waking up to the reality that we must play "hardball" with the Syrian Ba'ath; and if it means giving the military dictatorship a taste of its own medicine by "allowing" Kurdish resistance fighters to enter Syria from Iraq, then so be it.
US forces now in Syria
Analysis: this highlights some key points that will be discussed later. First, the signs of concrete American involvement have come to light. American personnel and helicopters landing in northern Syria, no matter who they are or why, is big news. Assad's dispatch of his brother (Defense Minister) to speak with Kurdish leaders is also a major turning point; signs that the Syrian military can't control the situation? Or simply fear international backlash by making any critical moves?
Analysis: Syrian Ba'athists are going to take advantage of the relatively sparse media coverage of the crisis that is developing in northern Syria to enact harsh military reprisals against the rebels. The events unfolding have all the trappings of another Hama, where ten thousand people were killed after an uprising there in 1982.
Flame of liberty is lighting up Syria
"Public buildings still burned Sunday in the northern Syrian city of Qameshli following riots in which at least 14 Kurds were reported killed in clashes with security forces, an AFP reporter saw. Syrian authorities swiftly cracked down on the unrest over the weekend, branding it an attempt to destabilise the country as Washington prepares to impose economic sanctions on Damascus.A tense calm hung over Qameshli, 700 kilometers (640 miles) northeast of Damascus, and Hassake, 100 kilometers to the south, after two days of violence triggered by a football match. In Qameshli, near the Turkish border, firemen were still trying to extinguish flames emerging from the windows of burned and looted grain warehouses.
The three-storey customs offices were burned out, the offices at the central railway station were sacked, the streets strewn with debris and a portrait of Syria's late president Hafez al-Assad riddled with bullet-holes. Witnesses said the rioters had torn down Syrian flags from the public buildings and hoisted Kurdish flags. A few food shops were open but most stores were shut. An official source said Syrian security chief Hisham Bakhtiar had told Kurdish leaders that "foreign hands were trying to spread sedition and instability in Syria" and called for unity in the name of current President Bashar al-Assad".... More
At this moment, Qamishli and four other Western Kurdish cities are under siege by the Syrian military. Tanks and helicopters surround the cities. Syrian soldiers and Arab militias on patrol shoot indiscriminately into the streets. Communication with the outside world has been cut off. Mobile phone contacts report over 50 people killed and hundreds injured by this callous act.
via The Kurdish National Congress of North America
Sources in Iraq have confirmed over the past few hours that in the northern city of Kirkuk, news of the uprising has spurred people (Kurds) into random gathering in the streets. Nothing seems to be organized, and certainly not violent. No reports as to how they are recieving information yet.
Statement of the Kurdish PEN Centre Bremen
"The latest reports starting from the 12th of March, 2004, claim hundreds of victims of anti-Kurdish attacks carried out by the Baathist gangs and their supporters within the state apparatus of Syria. The unrest began at a soccer match in Kamishli and spread around the whole Kurdish area as the funerals for the first victims took place. Even in the capital Damascus, several hundred riot officers wearing helmets and bearing plastic shields were stationed around Damascus University and in a predominately Kurdish suburb. The Kurdish PEN Centre sees the threat of further escalation of hostilities between the Kurds and their neighbours. The Turkish, Syrian and Iranian authorities are well advised to realise that the Kurds are not going to disappear and therefore they are entitled to cultural and political rights"
Sounds like fighting words to me. History shows us that when the Kurds decide to fight, they will fight... to the bitter end if need be. This is a turning point in the struggle for Syrian liberation from Ba'athist rule
Update: sketchy accounts of PKK turning on their former benefactors-- the Syrian government
Update: Turkish television reporting great deal of smoke coming from border towns.
Kurds in Amsterdam marching in solidarity with Syrian uprising....
Update: Berlin, in Solidarity....
Sources telling us 10,000 Syrian troops moved from Damascus to confront uprising
In northern Syria, where it all started....
the bad guys.....
So it begins....