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Sunday, May 29, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: Syria.. Where To?

[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]

“We have to keep up with this change, as a state and as institutions. You have to upgrade yourself with the upgrading of the society.” Those were the words of Syrian President Bashar Assad in a rare interview he gave the Wall Street Journal exactly four months ago. The Middle East has been going through an awakening and Syria has been turned on its head since.

The U.S. and the E.U. have imposed sanctions on symbols of the Syrian regime including the President himself while the Syrian government has made it clear that it will survive this crisis and come out unscathed with president Bashar Assad at the helm.

In that January interview President Assad sounded confident that the revolutions sweeping the Middle East had nothing to do with Syria and he claimed that his country is already on the way to reform and he gave no sense that his country is in any kind of trouble. If we look back at Mr. Assad’s words coupled with daily deadly protests in major Syrian cities, we quickly deduce that in only four short months, the flaws of the Syrian regime are exposed.

I find it fitting to ask some questions at this juncture of the president now that his security forces have killed more than 1100 people according to human rights groups and his apparatus have kept all independent media out of country leaving the only reporting to be done by state media or ordinary citizens who are braving the censors and authorities to get the word out about what’s going on inside Syria.

This begs the question: What is Syria up to in the next weeks or months? How many people will have to be killed before a dawn appears on the horizon? The Syrian government doesn’t seem to have a plan other than suppressing all opposition. The demonstrators seem determined to carry on with their protests until serious reforms are upheld.

When the remote view is the only one available, one has to wonder what President Assad must be thinking today and the kind of advice he’s getting from his entourage. To get a glimpse into his mindset it might be helpful to analyze what he said four months ago when neighboring countries were going through what his nation is going through at this point. When he spoke of “stagnating water” that leads to “pollution,” “microbes” and “diseases” I wonder what represents polluted, bacteria-infested water in today’s Syria.

Unlike what the Syrian President proclaimed in January, it seems that, when it comes to people’s dissatisfaction with their government and their desire for change, Syria is very much like Egypt and Tunisia. When it comes to the dictatorial leadership that tries to suffocate dissent, Syria is very much like pre-revolution Egypt and Tunisia; and today’s Yemen and Bahrain.

Mister President, by the looks of it you are very much like the other Arab leaders who also thought they were safe and won’t be scathed by the revolutions. You’re probably getting the same advice to hold on to power and stifle dissent until it stops. If you’re buying into that, an outsider bird’s eye view suggests that you need to change course, change immediately and change drastically! You may also want to re-read your January interview with the Wall Street Journal and apply the advice you offered other Arab nations to your own.

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2 Comments:

Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point has merit and we might also want to let them act at their own pace without foreigns and doubtful interventions.

May 30, 2011 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Oussama said...

If you have to start beating up people, then you have lost the argument. The regime had no intention to listen to the argument in the first place. Syria always thought it was immune not because it was on the path to reform but rather because its security apparatus was supposed to be in total control. How it will end and where it is heading, no one knows, I only hope that all involved will sit down and argue again.

May 31, 2011 at 6:21 AM  

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