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Syrian Government resigns

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  • Syrian Government resigns

    According to TV-reports the Syrian government has just resigned. Though it seems unclear if this only refers to the cabinet or if it does include President Bashar al-Assad.

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  • #2
    According to news outlets so far it is just the government and Assad remains.


    • #3
      We will have to wait until we see the replacement cabinet to see how much reform Assad is actually offering.


      • #4
        Syrian government resigns after protests sweep country

        DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accepted his government's resignation on Tuesday after nearly two weeks of pro-democracy unrest that has posed the gravest challenge to his 11-year rule.

        But the move was unlikely to satisfy protester demands since the cabinet has little authority in Syria, where power is concentrated in the hands of Assad, his family and the security apparatus.

        Tens of thousands of Syrians held pro-government rallies on Tuesday, awaiting a speech in which Assad was expected to announce a decision on lifting emergency laws that have served to crush dissent for almost 50 years.

        That is a key demand of anti-government demonstrations in which more than 60 people have been killed.

        "President Assad accepts the government's resignation," the state news agency SANA said, adding that Naji al-Otari, the prime minister since 2003, would remain caretaker until a new government was formed.

        Protesters at first had limited their demands to greater freedoms. But, increasingly incensed by a security crackdown on them, especially in the southern city of Deraa where protests first erupted, they now call for the "downfall of the regime".

        The calls echo those sounded during the uprisings buffeting the Arab world that, since January, have toppled veteran autocratic presidents in Tunisia and Egypt and also motivate rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

        Syrian state television showed people in the Syrian capital Damascus and in Aleppo, Hama and Hasaka waving the national flag, pictures of Assad and chanting "God, Syria, Bashar".

        "Breaking News: the conspiracy has failed!" declared one banner, echoing government accusations that foreign elements and armed gangs are behind the unrest. "With our blood and our souls we protect our national unity," another said.

        Employees and members of unions controlled by Assad's Baath Party, which has been in power since a 1963 coup, said they had been ordered to attend the rallies, where there was a heavy presence of security police.

        All gatherings and demonstrations not sponsored by the state are banned in Syria, a country of 22 million at the sensitive heart of generations of Middle East conflict.

        Media organisations operate in Syria under restrictions. The government has expelled three Reuters journalists in recent days — its senior foreign correspondent in Damascus and then a two-man television crew who were detained for two days before being deported back to their home base in neighbouring Lebanon.


        More than two hundred protesters gathered in Deraa chanting "God, Syria, and Freedom" and "O Hauran rise up in revolt", a reference to the plateau where Deraa is located.

        Deraa is a centre of tribes belonging to Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, many of whom resent the power and wealth amassed by the elite of the Alawite minority to which Assad belongs. Latakia, a religiously mixed port city, has also seen clashes, raising fears the unrest could take on sectarian tones.

        The government has said Syria is the target of a project to sow sectarian strife.

        "If things go south in Syria, bloodthirsty sectarian demons risk being unleashed and the entire region could be consumed in an orgy of violence," wrote Patrick Seale, author of a book on late president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, on the Foreign Policy blog.

        Bordered by Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, Syria maintains a strong anti-Israeli position through its alliances with Shiite Muslim regional heavyweight Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, as well as Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas. It has also reasserted influence in smaller neighbour Lebanon.

        Vice President Farouq al-Shara said on Monday the 45-year-old president would give a speech in the next 48 hours that would "assure the people".

        Last week Assad made a pledge to look into ending emergency laws, consider drafting laws on greater political and media freedom, and raise living standards. But the increasingly emboldened protesters have not been mollified. However Syrian officials, civic rights activists and diplomats doubt that Assad, who contained a Kurdish uprising in the north in 2004, would completely abolish emergency laws without replacing them with similar legislation.

        Emergency laws have been used since 1963 to stifle political opposition, justify arbitrary arrest and give free rein to a pervasive security apparatus.

        Protesters want political prisoners freed, and to know the fate of tens of thousands who disappeared in the 1980s.

        The British-educated president was welcomed as a "reformer" when he replaced his father in 2000. He allowed a short-lived "Damascus Spring" in which he briefly tolerated political debates that openly criticized Syria's autocratic rule, but later cracked down on critics.


        In Deraa, demonstrators have destroyed a statue of Hafez al-Assad, remembered for his intolerance of dissent.

        In 1982 he sent in troops to quell an armed uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing thousands of people and razing part of the conservative city of Hama to the ground.

        Even Hama has been hit by the new protest wave and Assad had to deploy the army for the first time in Latakia, after clashes in which officials said at least 12 people had been killed last week. Assad's crackdown on protests. the likes of which would have been unthinkable two months ago in rigorously-controlled Syria, has drawn international condemnation.

        But, realistically, Syria is unlikely to face the kind of foreign military intervention seen in Libya.

        By cultivating a rapprochement with the West in recent years, while at the same time consolidating its ties with anti-Israeli allies Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, Syria poses a headache for the West which has few options beyond condemning the violence and making calls for political reforms.

        France, colonial ruler until 1946, led the rehabilitation of Damascus following the 2005 assassination of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri, for which initial investigations have implicated Syrian and pro-Syrian Lebanese officials.

        The United States, long critical of Syria's support for anti-Israeli militant groups and its involvement in Lebanon, restored full diplomatic relations by sending an ambassador to Damascus in January after a nearly six-year gap.

        "Iran is very involved with this regime. Iran would defend it with all means possible," said Antoine Basbous, head of the Paris-based Observatory of Arab countries.

        "What's at stake if the Syrian regime falls is not just a matter of Syria internally, the stakes are above all geopolitical ones on a regional scale."

        Read more: Syrian government resigns after protests sweep country
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        • #5
          By ZEINA KARAM

          DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria's Cabinet resigned Tuesday to help quell a wave of popular fury that erupted more than a week ago, threatening President Bashar Assad's 11-year rule in one of the most authoritarian nations in the Middle East.

          Assad, whose family has controlled Syria for four decades, is trying to calm the growing dissent with a string of overtures. He is expected to address the nation in the next 24 hours to lift emergency laws in place since 1963 and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedoms.

          Mass protests exploded nationwide on Friday, touched off by the arrest of several teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall in the southern city of Daraa. Security forces launched a swift crackdown, opening fire in at least six locations around the country - including the capital, Damascus, and the country's main port of Latakia.

          More than 60 people have died since March 18 as security forces cracked down on protesters, Human Rights Watch said.

          State TV said Tuesday Assad accepted the resignation of the 32-member Cabinet headed by Naji al-Otari, who has been in place since September 2003. The Cabinet will continue running the country's affairs until the formation of a new government.

          The resignations will not affect Assad, who holds the lion's share of power in the authoritarian regime.

          The announcement came hours after hundreds of thousands of supporters of Syria's hard-line regime poured into the streets Tuesday as the government tried to show it has mass support.

          "The people want Bashar Assad!" chanted protesters in a central Damascus square. Men, women and children gathered in front of a huge picture of Assad freshly put up on the Central Bank building.

          The anti-government protests and ensuing violence have brought sectarian tensions in Syria out in the open for the first time in decades, a taboo topic here because the country has a Sunni majority ruled by minority Alawites, a branch of Shiite Islam. Assad has placed his fellow Alawites into most positions of power in Syria.

          But he also has used increased economic freedom and prosperity to win the allegiance of the prosperous Sunni Muslim merchant classes, while punishing dissenters with arrest, imprisonment and physical abuse.

          Many of the pro-regime demonstrators emphasized national unity Tuesday.

          "Sectarianism was never an issue before, this is a conspiracy targeting Syria," said Jinane Adra, a 36-year-old Syrian who came from Saudi Arabia to express support for Assad.

          "The Syrian people are one, there is no place for religious divisions between us," she said, flanked by her children, ages 3 and 5, carrying red roses and pictures of Assad.

          Mohammed Ali, 40, said Assad was in touch with the Syrian people and aware of their need for reforms.

          "This dirty conspiracy will be short-lived, we are all behind him," he said, cradling an Assad poster on his chest.

          The unrest in the strategically important country could have implications well beyond the country's borders given its role as Iran's top Arab ally and as a front line state against Israel.

          Syria has long been viewed by the U.S. as a potentially destabilizing force in the Mideast. An ally of Iran and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, it has also provided a home for some radical Palestinian groups.

          But the country has been trying to emerge from years of international isolation. The U.S. recently has reached out to Syria in the hopes of drawing it away from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas - although the effort has not yielded much.

          The government-sanctioned rallies Tuesday dubbed "loyalty to the nation march" brought hundreds of thousands into the streets in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Hasakeh in the north and the central cities of Hama and Homs. School children were given the day off and bank employees and other workers were given two hours off to attend the demonstrations.

          Still, many in Syria who see Assad as a young, dynamic leader and credit him for opening up the economy were shocked by the violence and came to express genuine support.

          When unrest roiling the Middle East hit Syria, it was a dramatic turn for Assad, a British-trained eye doctor who inherited power from his father in 2000 after three decades of iron-fisted rule. In January, he said his country is immune to such unrest because he is in tune with his people's needs.

          iWon News - Syrian Cabinet resigns amid unrest
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