Syrian opposition is shifting after months of protest

October 5, 2011

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(AP)
This rare photo from inside Syria shows protesters rallying against President al-Assad in the coastal town of Banias, Syria.

Yesterday, Russia and China vetoed a measure in the UN Security Council that condemned the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.  The Russians and Chinese, along with Brazil, India and South Africa, claimed that the Security Council's resolution on Libya was what led to a NATO-fueled civil war, and they were determined not to see that repeated in Syria. 

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, admonished the veto. As she said, “The people of the Middle East can now see clearly which nations have chosen to ignore their calls for democracy and instead prop up desperate, cruel dictators.”

Meanwhile, inside Syria, non-violent protests are starting to give way to armed opposition groups in certain areas, leading many to fear the outbreak of a civil war. Some have deemed it too dangerous to even stay in the country. Seeking refuge from the government crackdown, many protesters and defecting soldiers are slipping across the northern border to Lebanon.

Outside Syria, the fractured opposition is beginning to coalesce into a political movement. Last Sunday in Istanbul, Syrian dissidents announced the formation of the Syrian National Council.

Yaser Tabarra, a Chicago attorney and executive director of the Syrian American Council, was in Istanbul for the announcement. We talk to him about the drama that’s unfolding in Syria.