Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bashar, who speaks French and English

Bashar, who speaks French and English and has a British-born wife, was said to have "inspired hopes" for reform, and a "Damascus Spring" of intense political and social debate took place from July 2000 to August 2001. The period was characterized by the emergence of numerous political forums or salons where groups of like minded people met in private houses to debate political and social issues. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NAB Battery The phenomenon of salons spread rapidly in Damascus and to a lesser extent in other cities. Political activists, such as, Riad Seif, Haitham al-Maleh, Kamal al-Labwani, Riyad al-Turk, and Aref Dalilawere important in mobilizing the movement.The most famous of the forums were the Riad Seif Forum and the Jamal al-Atassi Forum. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NBB Battery The Damascus Spring ended in August 2001 with the arrest and imprisonment of ten leading activists who had called for democratic elections and a campaign of civil disobedience. On 5 October 2003, Israel bombed a site near Damascus, claiming it was a terrorist training facility for members of Islamic Jihad. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NCB Battery Islamic Jihad said the camp was not in use; Syria said the attack was on a civilian area. The Israeli action was condemned by European governments. The German Chancellor said it "cannot be accepted" and the French Foreign Ministry said "The Israeli operation… constituted an unacceptable violation of international law and sovereignty rules." Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YAB Battery The Spanish UN Ambassador Inocencio Arias called it an attack of "extreme gravity" and "a clear violation of international law."The United States Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act in December 2003, with the goal of ending what the U.S. sees as Syrian involvement in Lebanon, Iraq, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction through international sanctions. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YBB Battery Ethnic tensions increased in Syria, following an incident in a football stadium in Al Qamishli, 30 people were killed and more than 160 were injured in days of clashes starting from 12 March. Kurdish sources indicated that Syrian security forces used live ammunition against civilians after clashes broke out at a football match between Kurdish fans of the local team and Arab supporters of a visiting team from the city of Deir al-Zor. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YCB Battery The international press reported that nine people were killed on 12 March. According to Amnesty International hundreds of people, mostly Kurds, were arrested after the riots. Kurdish detainees were reportedly tortured and ill-treated. Some Kurdish students were expelled from their universities, reportedly for participating in peaceful protests. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YDB Battery In June 2005, thousands of Kurds demonstrated in Qamishli to protest the assassination of Sheikh Khaznawi, a Kurdish cleric in Syria, resulting in the death of one policeman and injury to four Kurds.Renewed opposition activity occurred in October 2005 when activist Michel Kilo launched with leading opposition figures the Damascus Declaration, Sony VAIO VGN-AW220J/B Battery which criticized the Syrian government as "authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish" and called for democratic reform.[18] On 6 September 2007 Syrian facility was bombed in the Deir ez-Zor region. While no one claimed responsibility on this act, Syria accused Israel, which in turn declared that indicated the site was a nuclear facility with a military purpose. Syria denied the claim. Sony VAIO VGN-AW230J/H Battery On 26 October 2008 helicopter-borne CIA paramilitary officers[19] and United States Special Operations Forces[20] carried out a raid to the Syrian territory fromIraq[21] The Syrian government called the event a "criminal and terrorist" attack on its sovereignty, alleging all of the reported eight fatalities were civilians. Sony VAIO VGN-AW235J/B Battery An unnamed U.S. military source, however, alleged that the target was a network of foreign fighters who travel through Syria to join the Iraqi insurgency against the United States-led Coalition in Iraq and the Iraqi government. The Syrian civil war is an ongoing internal violent conflict in Syria. Sony VAIO VGN-AW290JFQ Battery It is a part of the wider Arab Spring, a wave of upheaval throughout the Arab World. Public demonstrations across Syria began on 26 January 2011 and developed into a nationwide uprising. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, the overthrow of his government, and an end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF Battery Since spring 2011, the Syrian government deployed the Syrian Army to quell the uprising, and several cities were besieged,[23][24] though the unrest continued. According to some "witnesses", soldiers, who refused to open fire on civilians, were summarily executed by the Syrian Army.[ Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H Battery The Syrian government denied reports of defections, and blamed armed gangs for causing trouble.[26] Since early autumn 2011, civilians and army defectors began forming fighting units, which began an insurgency campaign against the Syrian Army. The insurgents unified under the banner of the Free Syrian Army and fought in an increasingly organized fashion; Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF Battery however, the civilian component of the armed opposition lacked an organized leadership. The uprising has sectarian undertones, though neither faction in the conflict has described sectarianism as playing a major role. The opposition is dominated bySunni Muslims, whereas the leading government figures are Alawites,affiliated with the Shia Islam. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H Battery As a result, the opposition is winning support from the Sunni Muslim states, whereas the government is publicly supported by the Shia dominated Iran and the Lebanese Hizbullah. According to various sources, including the United Nations, up to 13,470–19,220 people have been killed, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH Battery of which about half were civilians, but also including 6,035–6,570 armed combatants from both sidesand up to 1,400 opposition protesters.Many more have been injured, and tens of thousands of protesters have been imprisoned. According to the Syrian government, 9,815–10,146 people, including 3,430 members of the security forces, 2,805–3,140 insurgents and up to 3,600 civilians, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q Battery have been killed in fighting with what they characterize as "armed terrorist groups."[33] To escape the violence, tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled the country to neighboring Jordan, Iraq and [34] Lebanon, as well to Turkey.[35] The total official UN numbers of Syrian refugees reached 42,000 at the time,[36] while unofficial number stood at as many as 130,000. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF Battery UNICEF reported that over 500 children have been killed,[37][38] Another 400 children have been reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons.[39][40] Both claims have been contested by the Syrian government.[41] Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners have died under torture.[42] Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B Battery Human Rights Watchaccused the government and Shabiha of using civilians as human shields when they advanced on opposition held-areas.[43] Anti-government rebels have been accused of human rights abuses as well, including torture, kidnapping, unlawful detention and execution of civilians, Shabiha and soldiers. Sony VAIO VGN-AW50DB/H Battery HRW also expressed concern at the kidnapping of Iranian nationals.[44] The UN Commission of Inquiry has also documented abuses of this nature in its February 2012 report, which also includes documentation that indicates rebel forces have been responsible for displacement of civilians.[45] Sony VAIO VGN-AW51JGB Battery The Arab League, US, EU states, GCC states, and other countries have condemned the use of violence against the protesters. China and Russia have avoided condemning the government or applying sanctions, saying that such methods could escalate into foreign intervention. However, military intervention has been ruled out by most countries. Sony VAIO VGN-AW52JGB Battery The Arab League suspended Syria's membership over the government's response to the crisis,[48] but sent an observer missionin December 2011, as part of its proposal for peaceful resolution of the crisis. The latest attempts to resolve the crisis has been made through the appointment of Kofi Annan, as a special envoy to resolve the Syrian crisis in the Middle East. Sony VAIO VGN-AW53FB Battery The Assad family comes from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that comprises an estimated 12 percent of the total Syrian population.[82] It has maintained tight control on Syria's security services, generating resentment among some Sunni Muslims,[83] a sect that makes up about three quarters of Syria's population. Sony VAIO VGN-AW70B/Q Battery Ethnic minority Syrian Kurds have also protested and complained over ethnic discrimination and denial of their cultural and language rights.[84] When the uprising began, Bouthaina Shaaban, a presidential adviser, blamed individual "radical extremist" Sunni clerics and "takfiri" preachers for inciting Sunnis to revolt, such as Qatar-based Yusuf al-Qaradawi called for in his heated sermon in Doha on 25 March.Sony VAIO VGN-AW71JB Battery The Syrian government allegedly has relied mostly on Alawite-dominated units of the security services to fight the uprising. Assad's younger brother Maher al-Assad commands the army's elite Fourth Armored Division, and his brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, was the deputy minister of defense until the latter's assassination in the 18 July 2012 Damascus bombing. Sony VAIO VGN-AW72JB Battery Because the government is dominated by the Alawite sect, it has had to make some gestures toward the majority Sunni sects and other minority populations in order to retain power. The roughly 26 million inhabitants of Syria are an overall indigenous Levantine people. Sony VAIO VGN-AW73FB Battery While modern-day Syrians are commonly described as Arabs by virtue of their modern-day language and bonds to Arab culture and history, largely a blend of the various Aramaic speaking groups indigenous to the region. During colonial years, the region had a fairly large minority ofFrench settlers. Sony VAIO VGN-AW80NS Battery Many of them stepped out after the recognition of Syrian independence, but their influence is still evident on fluency of French by the educated class in Syria. Syria's population is 74% Sunni Muslim (includes most Arabs and Kurds, and 16% other Muslim groups (including 13.0% Alawi and Shi'a Muslims ( Imami/Twelvers and Ismailis/Seveners), 3% Druze) Sony VAIO VGN-AW80S Battery and 10% Christian, with a Syrian Jewish community of a few dozen, also there was a small Yazidi population found primarily in the northeast. 1,500 people of Greek descent live in Syria. The majority of them are Syrian citizens.[1] Arabic is the official, and most widely spoken, language. Sony VAIO VGN-AW80US Battery Arabic speakers, including some 400,000 Palestinians, make up 85% of the population. Many educated Syrians also speak English and French. The Kurds, many of whom speak Kurdish, make up 9% [2]of the population and live mostly in the northeast corner of Syria, though sizable Kurdish communities live in most major Syrian cities as well. Sony VAIO VGN-AW81DS Battery Armenian and Turkmen are spoken among the small Armenian and Turkmen populations respectively. Neo-Aramaic is still used by Assyrians and in some villages in the Anti-Lebanon mountains. Sixty percent of the population live in the province of Aleppo, the Euphrates valley or along the coastal plain; a fertile strip between the coastal mountains and the desert. Sony VAIO VGN-AW81JS Battery Overall population density is about 118.3/km² (306.5 per sq. mi.) Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 11. Schooling consists of 6 years of primary education followed by a 3-year general or vocational training period and a 3-year academic or vocational program. The second 3-year period of academic training is required for university admission. Sony VAIO VGN-AW81YS Battery Total enrollment at post-secondary schools is over 150,000. The literacy rate of Syrians aged 15 and older is 86.0% for males and 73.6% for females. Discontent against the government was stronger among people in the nation's poorer and more radical Sunni areas. Sony VAIO VGN-AW82DS Battery These included cities with high poverty rates, such as Daraa and Homs, rural areas hit hard by a drought in early 2011, and the poorer districts of large cities. Socio-economic inequality increased significantly after free market policies were initiated by Hafez al-Assad in his late rule, and accelerated during the rule of Bashar al-Assad. Sony VAIO VGN-AW82JS Battery With emphasis on the service sector, the policies benefited a minority of the nation's population, mostly people who had connections with the government, and people in the rich Sunni merchant class of Damascus and Aleppo, the country's two largest cities. Sony VAIO VGN-AW82YS Battery Socioeconomic complaints were reported, such as a deterioration in the country's standard of living and steep rises in prices of commodities.[87] The country also faced particularly high youth unemployment rates. The state of human rights in Syria has long been the subject of harsh criticism from global organizations. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83FS Battery The country was under emergency rule from 1963 until 2011, effectively granting security forces sweeping powers of arrest and detention.[90] The Syrian government has justified this by pointing to the fact that the country has been in a continuous state of war with Israel. After taking power in 1970, Hafez al-Assad quickly purged the government of any political adversaries and asserted his control over all aspects of Syrian society. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83GS Battery He developed an elaborate cult of personality and violently repressed any opposition, most notoriously in the 1982 Hama massacre. After his death in 2000 and the succession of his son Bashar al-Assad to the Presidency, it was hoped that the Syrian government would make concessions toward the development of a more liberal society; Sony VAIO VGN-AW83HS Battery this period became known as the Damascus Spring. However, al-Assad is widely regarded to have been unsuccessful in implementing succesful democratic change, with a 2010 report from Human Rights Watch stating that he had failed to substantially improve the state of human rights since taking power ten years prior, although some minor aspects had been improved. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90NS Battery All other political parties have remained banned, thereby leaving Syria a one-party state without free elections.Rights of expression, association and assembly are strictly controlled in Syria.[92] The authorities harass and imprison human rights activists and other critics of the government, who are oftentimes indefinitely detained andtortured in poor prison conditions. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90S Battery While al-Assad permitted radio stations to play Western pop music, websites such as Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube were blocked until 1 January 2011, when all citizens were permitted to sign up for high speed Internet, and those sites were allowed.[93] However, a 2007 law requiresInternet cafes to record all comments that users post on online chat forums.[94] Sony VAIO VGN-AW90US Battery

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