DAY 1 - MARCH 15, 2011
Emboldened by the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 11th and then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak one month later, political dissent starts to take hold amongst the Syrian youth. Nearly a dozen teenagers are arrested in the southern city of Daraa after spray painting: "the people want to topple the regime." A Facebook page named "Syrian Revolution 2011" has surfaced, calling for a "Day of Rage" protest similar to the one that sparked the revolution in Egypt. Meanwhile, hoping to curb the escalating violence in Libya, the United Nations Security Council flirts with the idea of imposing a no-fly-zone over the government of long-standing Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi. There is an overall sense of promise in Syria, that, like those before them in the Arab Spring, their draconian president, Bashar Al Assad, will be expelled.
A freelancer working mostly for the New York-based newspaper, The Global Tribune, you are in the beautiful seaside city of Benghazi, reporting on the westward rebel surge that is being fought along Libya's swath of the Mediterranean Sea. However, for right now, you are sitting in your hotel room, with the TV on, filing today's story about the Free Libyan Air Force. Earlier this week Gaddafi further escalated the violence in his country by deploying airstrikes on opposition hubs. You look up from your computer for a moment and catch an Al Arabiya newscast on Syrian activism. Everywhere is going off, you think to yourself while turning back to your keyboard. Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, and now Syria. You think about Syria's President Bashar Al Assad, how he was handed down the crown to his country by his father. How that usually doesn't bode well with a nation's populace. How he owns a really dastardly secret police, the Mukhabarat, and how he also has one of the largest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the world. For Syria's population, he is one of the most well-armed presidents. And, just coincidentally, Gaddafi is in the same position. Presidents that seem to collect a surplus of weapons also seem a little too eager to use them. You think about this as you see a group of Libyan rebels through your window. They wave the new flag of revolution , carry Kalashnikovs, and are willing to die in order to remove their nation's president.