Against all the odds, fierce repression by Syria’s police state has not yet quelled street protest there.
Joshua Landis, a US expert on Syria, wrote on 21 May: “Syrian government statements that it had defeated the revolution with its brutal crackdown were premature.
“This Friday [20 May], Syrians came out to demonstrate across the country despite the growing danger of violence. The absolute number of demonstrators may not have been very great, but the number of demonstrations was...”
Landis reckons that “even if demonstrations can [eventually] be shut down for the time being, the opposition will not be defeated. Syria’s youth... is now politicised, mobilised, and passionate”.
Around 8,000 people have been jailed, according to the Syrian opposition blog Damascus Bureau, and uncertain hundreds have been killed by the army, but on Monday 23 May there were further street protests in the guise of funerals for some of those killed.
A blog posting on thedailybeast.com by a British student in Syria (18 May) says that the state violence is backed up by “distortion and disinformation” by the government-controlled media.
The government’s story is that “the US, Israel, the satellite [news] channels, the radical [Islamist] cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi and others are part of some unholy alliance to bring down Syria”.
The writer quotes a Syrian dissident as telling him that many people believe this stuff “because they want to, because they're afraid”.
The regime still has some political base, cemented by fear, and the army mostly stays loyal. According to all reports, the opposition, though brave, is loosely organised, with no common programme beyond a general demand for democracy.
But still the revolt continues.