We first watched unrest on the streets of Syria in March, five months ago. By that time Egypt and Tunisia had toppled their dictators – and the whole Arab world seemed to be ablaze with possibility. As observers in the West, we naively expected Libya and Syria to go the same way, prehaps so did the Libyans and Syrians themselves. But it was not to be.
- Another 10000 are said to have been inprisoned for political reasons
In most situations, fear is the strongest of human emotions. But Syria’s brave protesters seem not to have noticed. They may cower in their homes from Saturday to Thursday, as tanks shell their cities and the regime’s snipers pick people off. Yet every Friday the protests erupt again. And the savagery increases.
That’s the hard bit, and a point on which I offer no wise words. It is impossible to promote bigger and bigger protests when I know what the concequences for the protesters would be. It is impossible to suggest military interventions – even if NATO was not so ridiculously over-stretched intervention is a dodgy path to take. The only thing we can do, it seems, is hope that the entire regime is struck by some awful unspecified illness. Well, have you got any better ideas? The protests will carry on and economic or diplomatic sanctions may bite sooner or later. It is impossible to say how Assad will go. But go he will.