At least 22 people have been killed over the past two days of violent crackdowns on the Syrian city of Hama, with reports having another 80 wounded and hundreds of protesters arrested by security forces.
The military withdrew from Hama last week, but returned over the weekend following massive Friday protests calling for regime change drew hundreds of thousands in this one city alone. Shortly thereafter the crackdowns in the city began anew.
The latest round of crackdowns sparked more international condemnation against the Assad regime. It raises a perplexing set of questions, however, about why the regime made it a point to withdraw from the city in the first place, and why it was so quick to return.
It seems that the withdrawal from such a major protest city was an admission that the violent crackdowns of the past several months simply aren’t working. The return to the city and to the same failed strategy is bizarre, to say the least, and it will be interesting to see what reaction the government has to what will inevitably be another Friday of massive protests.