A wedding in the Arab Spring

The row over the royal wedding invitation to Syria's ambassador to the UK has been an overnight media sensation (who knew the wedding was going to throw up these news angles?), but with Dr Sami Khiyami now persona non grata at the abbey it doesn't alter the fact that Syria is close to slipping into chaos.

How else to explain a situation where army snipers have reportedly shot at people trying to help protestors lying wounded in the street?

And how else – other than as chaos – would you describe what happened on Easter Monday when Syria's tanks shelled people (apparently indiscriminately) in Dera'a?

Of course it's organised chaos, in the sense that orders are being given and the politicians and military men are working in concert. With at least 450 dead so far and President al-Assad's government apparently escalating security force attacks not reining them in, things are at critical. Amnesty's called for the UN Security Council to refer the crisis to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. If they can do it for Libya, why not Syria?

Along with Libya, Syria is currently the darkest cloud in the Arab Spring, but let’s not forget that events in Bahrain have taken another sinister turn. After this week’s furore over whether Bahrain’s Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa would be coming to tomorrow’s wedding bash, we’ve now got news that four Bahraini protestors have been sentenced to death after closed-door trials in a military court. Rather than quelling protests, these excessive sentences are likely to fuel anger at the Bahraini authorities’ draconian behaviour. 

Meanwhile there’s more bad news from Yemen, with another 12 protestors killed and reports that President Saleh’s Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered exit will be ushered through with an immunity deal. This has been criticised by Amnesty’s Middle East head Malcolm Smart as a get-out-of-jail-free card for Saleh (more like a never-have-to-go-to-jail-at-all card actually) and would be a shocking abnegation of the rule of law by the Yemeni authorities if allowed to happen.

Sorry if that all sounds gloomy, but there’s actually still a lot to be inspired by as this amazing Arab Spring wears on. Whether or not we’ll soon be looking at a long hot Arab Summer of conflict and confusion remains to be seen ..

And, by the way, I wish anyone who happens to be getting married tomorrow a happy day and a long, happy marriage. Good luck all!

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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