Syria: general strike or civil war?
Dec. 12 municipal elections in Syria were hailed as a step towards democracy by the regime—but were boycotted by the opposition, which called for an indefinite general strike and civil disobedience campaign. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven people were killed in Homs and Idlib. The strike was most widely observed in Daraa, cradle of the nine-month protest campaign. (CBS, Middle East Online, Dec. 12) In response to escalating violence, Syria's main opposition leader said he had urged military defectors to limit their actions to defending anti-government protesters. Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun said he pressed the leaders of the Free Syrian Army to rein in operations after they launched a series of attacks on government troops. "We are worried that we will slide towards a civil war which pits a free army and an official army against each other," he told Reuters in an interview. "We want to avoid a civil war at all costs." (Reuters, Dec. 9)