Thousands of Syrian expatriates converged near their country’s embassy in Al Dafna yesterday to protest against President Bashar Al Assad’s rule and express solidarity with their countrymen who are fighting for regime change back home on a day when Syrian forces raked Latakia with heavy machine gun fire and pressed a crackdown in the port city.
The protesters, including women and children, gathered at a spot located some 100 metres away from the Syrian embassy.
They were carrying Syrian flags, placards and photographs of people killed by Syrian security forces in the ongoing crackdown against the uprising back home.
They also chanted revolutionary songs of Al Ghashoosh Al Aasi, who was killed by Syrian security forces and whose songs have become popular during the uprising.
“Syrians are one and we are with our brothers and sisters who are fighting for regime change back home,” said one of the slogans. “We want freedom from the dictatorial regime of Al Assad,” said another slogan.
While the Syrian expatriates marched towards the embassy a lot of people watched them and expressed sympathy.
Some of the people this newspaper spoke to said they were quite upset with the Arab League and its member-countries for not siding with the Syrian people the way they did with the people of Libya.
“Qatar and the UAE were in the forefront when the people of Libya revolted against the Muammar Gaddafi regime, but why are they shying away on the question of the Syrian uprising,” said a man.
The Arab League, which took up the cause of the Libyan people, has been silent on the issue of the anti-regime protests in Syria and the killing of innocent civilians by Al Assad’s regime, said another.
He said Qatar and the UAE must intervene and play a lead role in building world opinion against Al Assad’s authoritarian rule. “He is a killer,” said the man.
The protesters gathered near their country’s diplomatic mission a little after iftar at 6.30pm and remained there for a while amidst police presence.
An analyst this newspaper spoke to said he was not surprised by the silence of Qatar and the UAE on the Syrian issue because their experience with Libya has been a bit bitter.
“They supported the people of Libya but a regime change is taking so much of time. The delay might be preventing them (Qatar and the UAE) from taking a lead on the Syrian issue,” said the analyst. Another — and a more plausible — reason could be that these countries might be waiting for Al Assad to fulfil his promises for initiating reforms in Syria.
“He (Al Assad) has been saying since the uprising began that he would initiate reforms but so far nothing has been forthcoming,” said the analyst. He said he suspected that Al Assad might be genuinely wanting to make reforms but elements close to him in his regime might be preventing him from doing so.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, urged Arab heavyweight Saudi Arabia and Syria’s neighbour Turkey to press the embattled Assad to step down.
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