An Elaph report on the arrest of Communist activist Fateh Jamous quoted Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights who expressed his befuddlement at the arrest, saying that the regime's red lines are no longer clear (Arabic. 5/1/06). "Jamous's positions," he went on, "are open and clear." He is strongly opposed to relying on foreign interference and has criticized the Muslim Brotherhood's alliance with Abdel Halim Khaddam whom he called unfit to join the Damascus Declaration.
However, Jamous did manage to tell Elaph that it was important for the opposition inside Syria to communicate with independent opposition parties and individuals abroad in an attempt to unite them on the basis of the Damascus Declaration.
No contact with the outside is allowed, Period. This seems to be the underlying message that the regime seems want to make. And should the international community fail to react to this, the message will soon transmogrify into: no dissent of any kind will be tolerated, and then , it will indeed be back to the 80s, just as the Damascus Declaration people in Syria are predicting.* [*Ed.'s note: Arabic. Levant News, 5/2/06.]
Ammar elaborates further, also commenting on the tactic of incommunicado detention:
This [incommunicado detention] is the new style that Assef Chawkat, the head of the military security apparatus which we now know was behind the dramatic disappearance of Ali [Abdallah] and his two sons, seems to have selected for dealing with all those dissidents who were daring enough to try to bridge the gulf between the internal and external opposition groups, even when their efforts were not necessarily that successful. For, unlike his former comrade in arms, Riyad al-Turk, Fateh’s enduring old-style communist predilections had already constrained his abilities to enter into serious dialogue or strike a serious deal with any of the existing groups in Europe.
The aim, therefore, is to keep the opposition groups isolated and scattered, all the while maintaining the repression of the groups inside Syria.
This also may have been the message behind the arrest and recent sentencing to 8 years in prison of activist Riad Darar, who was arrested in June after delivering a eulogy at the funeral of murdered Kurdish Sheikh Maashouq al-Khaznawi (IRIN News, 4/3/06). Al-Khaznawi is believed to have been murdered by the regime for his overtures towards the Muslim Brotherhood as well as his efforts at reconciliation between Arabs and Kurds. Furthermore, as if to drive this message home, Darar's sentencing was simultaneous with that of Abdul-Sattar Qattan, a member of the banned MB.
The red lines are thus being stretched to eliminate even the thought of networking among opposition ranks. As Ammar writes, "it is the thought that counts. Fateh had tried and this suffices. The crackdown will continue, the intimidation, the sowing of fear. Fear, the Assad regime’s most successful crop to date."
Yet Abulhamid derives some hope from the perseverance of the opposition in the face of the regime's brutal crackdown: "the perseverance of the dissidents, and the proliferation of local unrest, might just indicate that even this crop is failing these days."
All the main Syrian opposition and Human Rights groups, inside and outside Syria, have issued statements of solidarity with Jamous and condemned his arrest. One party, The Party of Modernity and Democracy for Syria, issued an appeal to the opposition abroad to do more than just issuing statements of condemnation, and called on it to organize sit-ins and rallies all around the world aimed at exposing the crimes of the Asad regime (Arabic. "Free Syria," 5/3/06).