Just a reminder of something a lot of us said from the beginning.
I post this now because the same script seems to have been used in Ukraine. In both cases the “peaceful protesters” were armed and used their weapons first.
Full translation of Father Frans’s January 2012 report from Homs.
Report from Father van der Lugt on the Situation in Homs
We owe it to the citizens of Syria to be nuanced. Otherwise, their struggle is lost.
There are many people here that sincerely believe that we can go further with this [i.e. the current Syrian] government, that it is capable of implementing reforms (see the president’s latest speech) and that it is perhaps more democratic than possible replacements.
Most of the citizens of Syria do not support the opposition. Even a country like Qatar has stated this following an opinion survey. Therefore, you also cannot say that this is a popular uprising. The majority of people are not part of the rebellion and certainly not part of the armed rebellion. What is occurring is, above all, a struggle between the army and armed Sunni groups that aim to overturn the Alawite regime and take power.
From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.
It is not sure that the government is playing off the two groups (Sunnis and Alawites) against one another. In Homs, it is precisely the opposite. The army is keeping the two groups from getting involved in a bloody conflict. If the army leaves, then we will have a civil war here in Homs.
Bashar al-Assad has never required the support of Christian leaders. Most support him because they are convinced that they would be worse off with another solution.
Father Frans van der Lugt
Homs, 13 January 2012
HT tweet: Sharmine Narwani
Update: More on this story in The Brics Post.