The funeral processions, which have become huge events in many of these towns, are often accompanied by thousands of mourners, shouting anti-government slogans and carrying signs of protest. After government security officials used deadly force to disperse the crowds, death totals inched towards about 50 for this past weekend alone. Around the country, the official death total is up to 900, with reports that the actual human cost is considerably higher.
However, there is a certain spotlight being cast on Syria, which had been previously overlooked by the West. After the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, for many in the Western world the steam for the “Arab Spring” or “Jasmine Revolution” seemed to be running out. A disappointing stalemate in Libya and the subsequent involvement of America and NATO forces had many disparaging the calls for freedom ringing across the region. Add to that the fatigue of constant coverage and people’s relative unfamiliarity with Syria (which rarely receives any international press), along with other issues grabbing the world’s attention (Japan’s earthquake/royal wedding) and people just stopped paying attention to these revolts altogether.
However, if it bleeds it leads, and 1,000 murders have started inching the massacre in Syria up the news headlines. Last week, the world was horrified when mass graves were discovered outside of Daraa. Communities were in shock as pictures were broadcast on SHAMSNN, a news group with a Youtube channel that specializes in publishing all the videos coming out of Syria, and have really been instrumental in showing the world the atrocities taking place within the small country.
Now numerous headlines are blasting out with stories such as “More Victims Buried” and “Syrian Death Toll Rising.” This is one of the reasons that the West has stepped up its rhetoric in regards to Bashar al Assad and his regime. Formerly, the EU decided to sanction 13 Syrian officials (although not Bashar himself or his immediate family) and forbid them from travelling within the EU. Then just last week, the United States decided to increase sanctions on the country. It was a symbolic move as Syria has very little fiscal investment in North America.
However, there is a new player in the room: Russia. It is the top country which supplies Syria with their weapons and has admonished the sanctions meted out by the U.S. and the EU on numerous occasions. It is also rumored that Russia has been instigating skirmishes between the Syrian government and Israel. The numerous issues between Israel and Syria have prompted many to accuse the Syrian government of trying to draw attention away from from their recent killings and mass arrests by propping up the one big common enemy of Syrians. However, at this point, plenty of Syrian citizens are far more worried about their own government breaking down their door at 4 a.m., arresting and executing them, rather than what the IDF has planned for Golan Heights.
However, when the people of Syria are finally successful in removing Bashar al Assad and his one-party autocratic rule from the country, it does seem that there is one friendly face ready to greet him. On Friday, Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, put out a statement of praise from one dictator to another. “I have spoken with the Syrian president, our brother Bashar, a few minutes ago. Syria is the victim of a fascist attack. God help Syria!!” Chavez tweeted. Like Bashar, Chavez is more than happy to assign blame for the uprising to terrorists and insurgents trying to “destabilize” the country.
The country is now calling on the people of Damascus and Aleppo to rise up and march with them. Although there have been a number of protests in the suburbs of Damascus, most protests in the capital and its sister city Aleppo have been controlled quickly and violently. However, most in the country do believe that once the capital starts to really roll, the rest will be history.