Two unforeseen events Friday, June 3 rekindled Syrian protests with full force – just as Syrian President Bashar Assad was preparing to celebrate his reassertion of authority after suppressing the uprising against his regime with active Iranian and Hizballah help: The leaders of the Syrian opposition-in-exile meeting in Antalya under Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's aegis struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood which brought 100,000 Brotherhood loyalists back on the streets in the northern town of Hama.
debkafile's military sources disclose: Just as the conference of major Syrian opposition party leaders approached a fruitless ending, the Muslim Brotherhood, consented to introducing a clause in the "National Unity Charter" providing for the separation of religion and state in the guidelines of the post-Assad regime.
The MB made this concession after consulting with the group's leaders in Cairo and under heavy Turkish pressure.
It means that, even if the Brotherhood, which is banned and persecuted under the Assad regime, does run for election, the regime taking over would not be religious in nature.
This decision is of major significance not only for Syria but also for Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians where the Muslim Brotherhood has a strong presence.
Word of the Antalya accord flashed through Hama, center of the Brotherhood's revolt against the Assad family since 1982, and brought half the population out on the streets. Syrian security forces were caught unawares. Someone on the spot or along the higher Syrian and Iranian chain of command in Damascus panicked. An order went out to shoot directly into the crowd and break up the demonstration with maximum casualties. The result of up to 150 dead and 350 injured ignited fresh outbreaks in neighboring Homs, a town of more than 1.2 million inhabitants.
Northern Syria was aflame again after the uprising in the North and most other parts of Syria had largely subsided last week.
Fresh disturbances also hit the southern province of Horan and its capital Deraa a month after unrest there had been suppressed by troops shooting dead more than 500 protesters and injuring thousands. Covert Saudi agents operating from Ramtha in neighboring Jordan managed to whip up fresh anti-Assad riots in Deraa and Deir a-Zur among the Shamar, a nomadic tribe which roams across the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders and whose center is in northern Saudi Arabia.
The new outbreaks confronted President Assad with a fresh challenge at the very moment that he was polishing his victory speech to celebrate the crushing of the revolt against him.
He must now decide between carrying on with his iron-fist crackdown to douse persistent protests, or rely on the new bloodbath in Hama, Deraa and Deir a-Zur to act as a deterrent against the nationwide revival of mass demonstrations.
The third option, which he threatened earlier in the three-month revolt, would be to re-channel the fury directed against his regime into aggression on the Syrian-Israeli border.