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Daraa: Syria’s Tahrir Square | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Syrian regime tried with all its force, as well as repression and murder, to prevent demonstrators from controlling any square in a Syrian city, in the same vein as the Egyptian revolutionaries did during the January 25th Revolution, where they occupied Tahrir Square and turned it into the central point of their revolution, and introduced the name “Tahrir Square” to all the world’s media. That day, the Egyptian youth succeeded in creating a political discourse between the Square and the palace.

In Syria, the situation today is different. With the government repression, Daraa has transformed itself into Tahrir Square, where demonstrations in all Syrian cities have come out in the name of Daraa, in defense of the town, and in support of its martyrs and sacrifices. The Syrian regime made a mistake by focusing on a security solution, and laid a military, political, and media siege upon Daraa. However, the regime unintentionally transformed Daraa into a symbol, and rendered it Syria’s Tahrir Square.

Furthermore, while Egyptian political figures declared their support for the Egyptian rebels, and their rejection of Mubarak’s regime, by going down to Tahrir Square in Cairo, today we are witnessing something in Syria, different in terms of the details, but similar in symbolism. The first resignations in protest against the Syrian regime came from Daraa itself, and yesterday two Syrian MPs announced their resignations on air through the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television channel, protesting against the suppression of the demonstrators. Khalil Rifai, previously an MP for Daraa, announced his resignation saying “I announce my resignation from parliament because I cannot protect my people”. Moreover, the Mufti of Daraa, appointed by the regime, also announced his resignation in protest to the killing of demonstrators. Of course, the resignation of Daraa’s Mufti is the more important indicator, for this is the first stance taken by a clergyman associated with the regime, and there may be further stances to come, especially as the cities of Homs and Aleppo are being targeted [by the regime].

Hence today Daraa has become the Syrian Tahrir Square, with resignations, demonstrations and a Syrian uprising all being carried out on its behalf. This is of course down to many reasons, most notably the Syrian regime’s mismanagement of the crisis, in a security, media and political sense. Unfortunately, it seems that Damascus still insists on repeating these errors. The Syrian propaganda machine launches accusations and insults at everyone. Recently it has increased its propaganda tone against Saudi Arabia, here and there, in a repugnant manner.

It is interesting that the Syrian regime talks about a conspiracy, however we can all see the Arab media’s light coverage, specifically the satellite channels, towards what is happening in the country, not to mention the international silence, even though the number of victims killed the day before yesterday in Syria was huge. What if the events in Syria had received half the media coverage of those in Egypt, during Mubarak’s regime, which lived under alarming pressure? But what is more interesting, and absurd, is the report of the resignation of the Director of al-Jazeera’s Beirut Office, Ghassan Ben Jeddo, where it was said that the reason for his resignation was the decline in professionalism of the channel’s coverage. Now al-Jazeera is considered unprofessional?!

Therefore it seems that Daraa, Syria’s new Tahrir Square, will be the downfall of many.