Posted by Joshua on Sunday, August 9th, 2009
Bashar al-Sba’i (ElSbihi), the opposition figure about whom I wrote last week, has written to explain that he did not “come to an understanding with the Syrian government” before returning home. I am copying his full letter below with his permission. I hope also to publish his analysis of the changes Syria is going through and what role individual Syrians can play in bringing about further change. I am grateful for the opportunity to publish this clarification. Bashar Elsbihi writes:
I read your August 1st, post regarding my return home to Syria from the U.S. A friend sent it to me via e-mail, and I was a bit surprised at a couple of assumptions on your part. However, I’m glad to have the chance to clear those points of views and the set the record straight to your readers.
In your post you stated that I, “must have negotiated a deal with the Syrian government to go home a short time ago”, yet the truth I did not. In fact going back was the last thing on my mind.
The reality of my decision, of which you made clear, that I totally lost faith in Middle-Eastern politics in general and the Syrian Opposition in particular; for many reasons chief among them is the Syrian Opposition lack of vision and leadership. As you know, my work in TV has given me a totally new perspective on politics and politicians and a great incentive to leave politics altogether, therefore I issued my April 19, 2009 declaration of which I stated my exact reasons for leaving all forms of organized political work.
My return home did not have any pre-negotiated deal. I simply asked the appropriate authorities through private channel if there would be any issues upon my return home and the answer came back is none. What I found most fascinating about this whole affair is the level of change in the perspective and work methods of the infamous Syrian Security apparatuses of which people feared and loathed for years. Some of your readers may think this is an exaggeration or simply my case was an exception to the rule because of my family status in the country, however I will be writing in details about this at a later time to explain the internal changing dynamics that have taken place in the country since President Bashar Al-Assad took over from his father.
The other note I would like to correct is your comment about me apologizing for my work in the opposition. Actually I never did. What I stated was that I simply have read things “wrongly” while I was in the opposition and I made that very clear in my April 19 declaration. I still believe in the need for multi-party system in Syria and the benefits such a system would reap from a viable opposition in the country; especially in today’s Syria where the monopoly the Ba’ath Party enjoys today have become a burden on the current government and its future plans for an expanding and thriving economy in Syria. However I believe this change must be home-grown and worked out on the local level and free from foreign political pressure.
These are the two points I wanted to clarify and I will be expanding on them in my future writings as I’m still enjoying my birth place with all its fascinating history traditions. I’m actually trying to visit as many places around the country as possible and will be writing a great deal about my impressions.
Finally, I totally agree with your statement that authoritarianism in the Middle-East is back, however, it’s a new and an upgraded type of authoritarianism that has proved to be much more effective at keeping the peace and stability which the West and America could not bring into the region with their democracy promotion methods. I’ll also be expanding on this point in the near future.