Syrian crackdown in Hama is a 'litmus test'
With Syrian tanks at the edges of the city of Hama, an icon of rebellion, how the regime chooses to proceed could signal its plans for the country as a whole.
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The primitive "weapons" used by Hama's protesters – stones, sand berms, and reportedly even bows and arrows – undermines one of the regime's main arguments, The New York Times notes: that the protesters are armed and dangerous.Skip to next paragraph
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“The regime made significant progress in terms of convincing people in Syria and abroad that there was an armed component to this protest movement and that its security forces were very much focused on that component," Peter Harling, a Damascus-based analyst with International Crisis Group, told the Times. “Hardly two weeks later, the regime gets embroiled in the exact opposite, once again undermining its own case.’’
The regime is also undermining its legitimacy with those who would be sitting across the table in negotiations, the Journal reports. The Local Coordinating Committees, a network of Syrian activists, rejected the dialogue offers, as did many others. If the regime isn't the one ordering the crackdowns throughout the country, then it lacks the power to hold up its end of any deal, Ammar Qurabi, head of Syria's National Organization for Human Rights, told the Journal. If it is ordered the detentions and deaths, then the opposition cannot trust the regime.