Inside the Middle East
February 1, 2011
Posted: 914 GMT

What began as a popular uprising that toppled the Tunisian government before spreading into Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and, of course, Egypt, may now be headed for Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad may face mass protests this weekend from opposition groups.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad may face mass protests this weekend from opposition groups.

Opposition movements in Syria are calling for mass protests on Saturday against the rule of President Bashar Al-Assad.

The groups are organizing on Facebook, with several pages promoting protests in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities.

Protest organizers want better living standards, human rights improvements and a greater voice for youth, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based organization that studies and translates news accounts and social-media postings.

It's unclear how many people might join the protests. A few thousand people had expressed their support for the movement on the Facebook pages, some of them undoubtedly from outside the country, the research institute said. Read more...

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Syrian   February 1st, 2011 12:10 pm ET

Those people are the minority. The vast majority of Syrians are supportive of the president, and larger counter protests in support of the president are being organized. Once again, CNN is spreading propaganda by taking something small and exaggerating it.

Goanri   February 1st, 2011 1:30 pm ET

For year Israel was accused as the source of conflict and lack of stability in the middle-east. Now the truth came out – Israel was just a safety valve for the internal anger in the Arab world, an anger that was against the leders who were smart enough to canalized it toward the so-called "arch-enemy" of the Arab world. Is it possible that now arab counties would burry the hatchet and finally make peace with Israel, and flourish and prospire together? Who knows? Will reason overcome hatrerad?

John A   February 1st, 2011 3:39 pm ET

Is Syria next? Yes, if America has its way.

In truth it should be Obama next.

eric   February 1st, 2011 4:59 pm ET

the chances of syria being next are small due to the fact that syrian goverment are not very tollrent and will open fire on any protesters

John Biel   February 2nd, 2011 1:42 am ET

Syria?? How about Mexico. The Mexican people should be ashamed of how they have allowed themselves to be held hostage in their own country and the abuses that have resulted from their apathy and lack of courage.
Mexico is long overdue!!

Dhilrukshan   February 2nd, 2011 3:38 am ET

While a lot of people maybe excited about what is happening in the Middle East. Most of those that are going to fall are Pro-Western governments like in Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan. Pro-Western governments are always held back by their Western allies from using military force and anything else at their disposal to stop these sort of events. Whereas governments in Iran and Syria etc. are free to do what is necessary to stay in power. The Pro-Western oil rich Gulf states ruled by absolute monarchies are also safe from being overthrown. Their doing economically well. Their citizens barely pay any taxes so the majority don't seem to demand for any real input. "No taxation without representation" doesn't apply here. Though some small cosmetic reforms have been carried out by the oil rich gulf states because of the pressure placed by the West.

Jason   February 2nd, 2011 5:18 am ET

This article makes the landing of the UFO in New Mexico more realistic. Instead of spreading rumors and making up stories about imaginary opposition movements calling for protests, how about focusing on the lack of supports for uprising in the street of Cairo, Amman, and Sana. Sorry I forgot that our allies in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen are our S.O.B… so we have to protect them.

Oliver Frank   February 2nd, 2011 8:52 am ET

American stupid politisions must stop supporting Terrorist regime like Saudi Arabia , U.A.E etc otherwise American freedom , Liberty will be erased in America itself

John A   February 2nd, 2011 9:54 am ET

Dhilrukshan, you have a child like understanding.

Destabilization of the Arabic world leaves it open to abuse from foriegn powers. The west actually supports and funds loads of terrorists to create division. Divided they fall united they stand, so for the sake of cheap oil and Israel the west will never let the Arabs stand in a united democracy.

Al Qieda number 2 dined at the pentagon:

Bin Laden Family Evacuated:

I could go on and on, but if you dont know the wool has been pulled over your eyes yet, then you never will.

Syrian American   February 2nd, 2011 2:42 pm ET

Any Syrian who tells you they prefer the current regime are either:

1. Very well off and not connected to the people (10% of population)

2. Benefiting from the corruption (10% of the population)

The rest of the people want change and deserve change. They rest of Syria is as follows:

1. Having family who lives outside of Syria supporting them financially (i.e. Western Union xfers, etc.)

2. Educated, yet no employment opportunities

3. Youth fed up with limited access to internet and limited opportunities to freely express themselves

Syria has been ruled by the Assad family for almost 40 years now. Hafiz for about 30 and the son for the last 10. Do you think this is right? If as the 1st commentor mentions, most people support Bashar Assad, why not have democratic votes and see who really wins the election? Why not create a system with two term limits, each 5 years long for the Presidency. 10 years, unliked the US system of 8 years is enough.

I personally feel Bashar Assad is a decent President and good for the country in it's current state of form, but the bigger issue is that the younger Assad is surrounded by his father's old guard regime. They need to go and he needs to exercie his influence to make this happen.

When I visit Syria, I see the corruption from the moment I land in the aairport (i.e briberies are a way of life, etc). Police collected tickets and the money goes to their pocket. Everything that you can imagine in Syria requires an extra payment (i.e. under the table payment).

James   February 2nd, 2011 4:47 pm ET

Any remember what happened in Hama in 1982? The government put down opposition protests by Sunni's. The armey was led by Assad's brother. The estimate of dead range from 16,000 to 40,000 depending on who you talk to. Assad's brother boasted of , I think, 36,000 dead

Jennifer   February 2nd, 2011 7:46 pm ET

It would be the biggest mistake to revolt in Syria – there would be complete chaos! We have 18 different ethnic groups; we are thankful to have a government that provides stability and secularity!! Those who protest are either the poor or the extremists, groups that ultimately have their own interest at heart – not the country's!

thaerabadan   February 2nd, 2011 11:48 pm ET

syria is next

help us please

gilbert manuel   February 3rd, 2011 2:31 am ET

the predictions of nostradamus that the green hood people will start world war III. its snot the americans who are destroying them, they destroying themselves, middle east politics are doctrinal in nature and poltics should not be associated with religion, it must be separated otherwise, people are killing each other in egypt now, yet they blame other people, , , blame themselves instead blaming other outside people. mubarak protects the integrity of the pro democratic people, nothing is wrong when he is associated himself with the west because it is for political survival that is international politics.

gilbert manuel   February 3rd, 2011 2:34 am ET

spare syria, is a multi sectoral beliefs, ideological perversion is far from happening. . my girlfriend is in syria, so please

Ariely   February 3rd, 2011 6:46 am ET

Islamists are using the democratic system to get power later to ban it and oppress human rights, liberals, democracy, impose Islam worldwide by sward, woman oppression.

Democracy without banning Islamism extremism leads to hate, terror, oppression danger worldwide: Refer to: Iran- Lebanon- Gaza and remember Afghanistan under the Taliban
It is easier for the ME dictators and theocrats to divert their citizens energy against imaginary enemies and impose Islam worldwide doctrine and not dealing with the ME people real problems

***Only a change of the Arab world social and cultural structure will be the long run solution.
Inherent problems of the Arab world:
–Stagnated society
- High percentage population increase
- Increased pressure of limited resources
- No working places.
-Dreaming to impose Islam worldwide by force
-All the ME regimes and religious leaders brain washed peoples mind against external imaginary enemies
-Investing in armies but not in future building
-Inability to compete in the modern world
Neither the demonstrators or political movements calls to deal with the infrastructure issues.
Lessen to ME people and political declarations it is obvious that:
The Arab masses want a solution to the unemployment and food problems regardless the regime type.
The future?
More problems–No solution- More unrest regales the regime type- Unfortunately traditional historical solution was-!!!Wars!!!

ak   February 3rd, 2011 9:05 am ET

the majority of the Syrians support the president. Therefore the oppositions will not be able to harvest anything from the protest which will take place on this Saturday. However, as a reminder there will be proASSAD, the majority, are going to be there to show their support to the president.
But I also want to put is this way, if they dont want Mr. Asad. DO THEY HAVE A suitable successor? or another plan or system that can assure the Syrians better living? at least Mr. Assad has vision for his country.
for additional information, please check Mr. Assad's latest interview on Wall street journal. and i hope you can discover that the president has a vision for Syria.

Doone Ross   February 3rd, 2011 2:41 pm ET

Where is Libya in all this? Your maps of the middle east troube spots just skip over the most tyrranical and repressive regime in the region, led by one of the most notorious madmen. How is that madman Ghadafi able to continue trooping around the world with his camel tent lecturing the west on economics and morals while impoverishing his people...and avoiding the wave of popular unrest we see in all over north african moslem states? Is there no email/facebook/twitter in Libya? Has he kept the literacy rate so low his people don't know how to communicate?

Gabbs   February 4th, 2011 5:02 pm ET

Would'nt it be great if all the ME countries held real democratic elections.
You'll find human nature begs for freedom and not opression. Take a leaf out of Israel when it comes to freedom of speech. Due to the arabic nature of the middle easterners this will never happen.

Bill S.   February 5th, 2011 4:57 am ET

Social Problems: Southeast Asia

After travelling through Southeast Asia, it is easy to see why the social and economic problems are rampant. After years of neglect and dozens of coup d’etats, the majority of the region’s dominant economic sectors are sex tourism and, to a lesser degree, travel tourism. Throughout the region, local officials and organizations have rushed to upkeep fallen ruins, perpetuate false historical events, and falsified historic sites in the name of profits and survival. Countless men, women, and children have subjected themselves to social unrest by turning to work in the sex industry due to the polarization that exists due to the lack of government regulation.

The root of the social problem is not the fact that there is sex tourism, but that it is not regulated or taxed to any degree. Throughout the region, there are generations of men and women who have made a living and supported their families through engaging in sexual acts for tourists. Due to the fact that it is unregulated, the local economies have benefited economically but have been socially devastated. New generations of children have little incentive and aspiration to seek work in other industries. This has lead to an economic polarization between the educated and working classes throughout the region, and it has lead to sex workers often making five times what doctors, teachers, and lawyers do.

By regulating the sex tourism, governments within the region can ensure improved education, social services, retirement, and better health for their people. Clearly, the services are needed, and welcomed by the costumers who travel within the region. Unfortunately, the lack of regulation has lead to disastrous social results that are putting the entire region at a huge social and economic risk.

Gender Identity Crisis

This lack of government regulation has lead to child abuse and gender identity phenomena on a mass scale. Impoverished families have consented and subjected countless numbers of adolescents to molestation. Also, young men throughout the region are seeking sex changes at alarming rates to keep up with their female counterparts economically. The social pressure can be seen through a simple analysis of the rate of sex reassignment surgeries and number of transsexuals within the region versus the rest of the world. Denying the fact that there is a huge social influence for males to change their sex within the region for economic gain detracts from the legitimacy of those individuals who change their sexuality for true mental well-being. Transgender and transsexuals are not bad, but creating a social dilemma that forces people to make life altering decisions against their will in the name of survival is.

Southeast Asia’s Buddhism

Buddhism has failed in Southeast Asia. The people in Southeast Asia have skewed the main teachings of Siddhartha Gautama for over a century, and it can be directly seen in a basic analysis of the productivity of the countries within the region. Every country within the region has failed to follow the three basic practices of Buddhism: Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna. The fact that they are failing to regulate the sex tourism within the region has led to not meeting the last two basic practices. Sex tourism is accepted throughout most of the world, but the lack of simple regulation has led to economic polarization which in turn has created few incentives to seek wisdom and enlightenment through education.

A Case for Islam

After an analysis of the aforementioned data, there is strong evidence that the people of Southeast Asia have failed in following basic Buddhist practices, and it can be seen in a simple analysis of the people’s self created plight within the region. Southeast Asia has the second largest Muslim population in the world, and Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Will Islam continue to be successful in Southeast Asia? In consideration of the Pillars of Islam and the family social construct that it can provide, it is evident that it offers a great deal more structure for basic social groups throughout the world in comparison to other major world religions. This is the main reason that Islam has been so successful and will continue to be so into the future. Is there room for multiple religions within Southeast Asia? Absolutely, but the social problems will continue to run rampant, regardless of religious choice, until the governments within the region start regulating their main industries to benefit basic social issues that uphold a well-functioning society.

Essam   February 5th, 2011 11:56 pm ET

We very much hope,but the chances of such is limited as the American wants an improvement rather a full change of the's proven & tested in some way in being able to keep the 'peace' on it's border with Israel and on the Lebanese/ Israeli front too if they get what they want in Lebanon & Iraq..The regime being controlled by the minority of the Alawite Sect and rumors of up to 5000 Hezbollah members being sent to Syria as a back-up will have no hesitation in slaughtering the demonstrators, they have done it before in Aleppo/Homs. As to the gentleman that claims the 'majority' are with the regime , of course they are with the dictator only if you are within his circuit & benefit from the corruption,lack of transparency & the very basic democracy ..change is well over due..

Free Syria now   February 6th, 2011 2:42 am ET

Yes, but the syrian needs help like the Iraqi to get ready of the dictator Bashar Assad and his corrupt rageem

Omar Sidi   February 7th, 2011 1:08 pm ET

well ; i think that the regime of Bashar El Assad will not be the next due to many elements every one know because it s against Israel State and secondly their is no alternative to fight this regime but late or soon all these regime will go out of their power

fine Boy   February 7th, 2011 11:13 pm ET

How about Nigerian Politicians who loots millions of USD.

European Union and USA should refrain from receiving such money
they are abetting criminals.

SR123   February 8th, 2011 4:32 am ET

yah the minority .. quick history lesson
the city of Hama, Syria, 1982 during the rule of Hafez el Assad the father of bashar el Assad a family that has been in reign for the past 50 years.. so 1982 Hama the city was surrounded by tanks and bombarded.. than soldiers went in and finished the rest... 40 000 deaths.. so people who like him are a minority.. the majority say yes sir cause they so scared ... this regime has killed its own people by mass..
when syria had the military intelligence in lebanon, they still do by the way but its a bit better than before.. neways people use to disappear and ohhhh what a coincidence if u look back all of them had said something against the regime.. my gosh stunning yah.. if bashar el assad is giving you stability, and what ever u guys need safety etc etc .. but it is for a price u are not suppose to say anything about the regime.. thats basically buying his own people and terrorizing them at the same time.. i read in one article when he was asked if he was worried about a revolution he said : no syria is different, it is stable and those who want change are going to have to wait for another generation.. nice guy..

Mariette   February 23rd, 2011 6:15 am ET

Ariely = very wise. Agree wholeheartedly with your precis of islam. There is NO possibility of 'democracy' under the "Brotherhood", only civil war, as they promise and will deliver with terrible force.

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