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By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Hafez Al-Assad
President Obama's proposed air strike against Syria has turned into a massive political snafu. World opinion is heavily against him, and most Western democracies have decided to keep out of this fight.
The international media have focused on the recent Israeli airstrikes in Syria and what it means to the region. What and whom did Israel target? Was there an imminent threat to Israel? Does the strike portend a widening conflict? There are several reasons for Israel's timing.
Syrians took to the streets for the largest anti-regime protests in months in several cities Friday, taking advantage a lull in fighting as a cease-fire took effect at the start of a Muslim holiday. But scattered violence including battles over a northern military base and a Damascus suburb illustrated the difficulty of maintaining even a limited truce.
Syria's most prominent defector said in an interview that aired Monday that he opposes any foreign military intervention in the country's civil war and that he is confident the opposition can topple President Bashar Assad's regime.
Thaer Abboud volunteered to join the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad but got a rude rejection because of his religion.
A top Syrian general's defection is the first major crack in the upper echelons of President Bashar Assad's regime, buoying a 100-nation conference Friday meant to intensify pressure for his removal, as well as an opposition desperate to bring him down but frustrated by diplomatic efforts.
More than 50,000 mourners marched through the capital of Syria's Kurdish heartland Saturday in a funeral procession for one of the country's most prominent opposition figures a day after his assassination. Security forces fired into the crowds, killing five people, witnesses said.
The streets of Hama, in central Syria, were deserted on Wednesday, and the city, which has come to symbolize defiance against the regime, appeared to be under full government control after last week's brutal crackdown on protesters.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians carrying olive branches and shouting for the downfall of President Bashar Assad's regime streamed Friday into the flashpoint city of Hama, where the U.S. and French ambassadors traveled in a strong show of support for the protest movement.
Syrian troops raided homes and made sweeping arrests in the central city of Hama on Monday, wounding at least 20 people before sealing off the city just days after about 300,000 protesters there held the largest demonstration since the uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted in mid-March, activists said.
The Syrian army shelled residential areas and unleashed security forces Wednesday in an intensified push to crush the uprising against authoritarian President Bashar Assad, killing an 8-year-old boy and at least 17 others, a human rights group said.
Syrian security forces opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters demanding regime change, killing at least 30 people in a sign that President Bashar Assad is prepared to ride out a wave of rapidly escalating international outrage.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising five weeks ago, President Obama has declined to call for Bashar Assad to step down as dictator or criticize his regime on camera, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has let it be known that many American lawmakers "believe he's a reformer." Slippery diction notwithstanding ("I referenced opinions of others," she later explained) most in the administration would appear to hold precisely this view of the Syrian president.
The Obama administration has turned down a plea from Syria's democratic opposition to step up diplomatic pressure on President Bashar Assad, who has violently repressed peaceful anti-government protests.
He said he left Hama briefly through side roads to smuggle in food supplies.
He said thousands of enraged protesters snatched some weapons from a far smaller number of troops and chased them out of the Roman-era old city, taking back control of the al-Omari mosque, which has been the epicenter of eight days of protests in Dara.