A good video here on the recent crackdown on the democratic opposition in Syria. In particular there is the focus on the arrest of teenage blogger Tal al-Mallohi who was sentenced to 5 years in prison this week. Whatever the validity of the alleged spying charges, the timing of the sentencing to coincide with the popular revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia is no accident. The regime may welcome the fall of pro-western governments elsewhere in the region, but this harsh sentence on a young blogger is a clear warning shot to anyone thinking of replicating protests at home and challenging Baathist rule.
It could backfire however. Many bloggers and tweeters both inside and outside Syria seem to be focusing on the al-Mallohi case as a rallying point against the government. Though it is unlikely to spark a rebellion on its own, the harshness of the sentence may just add to the growing disillusionment with Bashar al-Assad’s ability to move Syria away from the oppressive police state established by his father.