Ehsani: What About The Regime?

By Ehsani for Syria Comment

You’ve shown your true colors, “Ehsani”.

Of course, you conveniently consider and accept the irrational killing
automata of the regime as a fact that we must accept in order to
present a sound analysis, while not affording the protesters such
convenience in their irrational and emotional response as having any
influence on your analysis. That’s the scandalous premise that I can’t
possibly agree with.

Moral and ethical questions aside, this is a flawed logic. Would this
be a policy paper that you’d present to the president?


You yourself mentioned the activist that asked Ghalioun to step down without properly laying out how the opposition can move forward and what Ghalioun should be doing now. In the same way, you have not just proposed but actually argued in your last article that we should work on 2014 elections, without detailing how this can be realistic. You somehow managed to do what Mr. Al-Abdullah did, even as you correctly explained what he didn’t do.

“….he offers no precise prescription of what to do next.”

This is a sample of the many emails that I received following my last note entitled “Syria’s opposition must find a different way”. This was not surprising.

It is hard to argue with the fact that my suggestion to the opposition to play Ghandi came with a free pass to the Syrian leadership to continue business as usual at least till 2014. To many, this was unrealistic, naïve and outright irrational.

The premise behind my recommendation is perhaps the realization (defeatist?) that the regime will not give in and hand the rein of power unilaterally. There are three reasons for that:

  1. The leadership still thinks it can win.
  2. The leadership thinks that giving up power is akin to signing its own death sentence.
  3. The leadership thinks it is fighting evil.


Why does the leadership think it can still win?

Put simply, the daily morning decision making process may go as follows:

“Does anyone think that foreign military intervention (especially U.S.) is near”?

Answer: A unanimous negative.

Thank you all for coming. Meeting dismissed.

Asking the Syrian President to step down while giving near zero indication that a “credible” military option is on the table is the definition of weak and confused foreign policy by the international community. No, I am not personally advocating foreign intervention here but stating a fact.

Giving up power now is akin to signing your death sentence:

Nearly one year into this crisis, calls for revenge and holding people accountable for murder is natural. However, this also means that the leadership knows that it gains little by unilaterally giving up power. Indeed, giving up power now is like taking your loss upfront. Fighting till the end is seen as a better option as something may still happen to bail you out. This dynamic is all too familiar to those of us in the investment-trading world. Cut your losing position and take your loss now or stick with it and hope for a market turnaround. Human nature invariably chooses the latter.

The leadership is fighting evil:   

Both the regime and its supporters are convinced that the ultimate winners from the opposition will be religious zealots who will take Syria back to the 7th century. Moreover, the country will become a puppet in the hands of more powerful regional and western countries who will dictate its future geopolitical aspirations. Regardless of the shortcomings of this leadership, its successor is likely to be far worse is the assumption here. While many Syrians dislike discussing sectarian issues, the country is far more sectarian than many want to admit. Religious minorities are far more likely to believe in the above dynamic.

When I called on the opposition to find a different way than arming itself, I did indeed give the leadership a pass till 2014. I did so because I am convinced that the regime goes through the above three-point rationale constantly and that up to this point it comes up with the same conclusions described above.

For the regime to break the impasse and offer their own Ghandi approach, one or all three things have to happen:

1-      The U.S. and the West threaten with a credible and specific timeline on military action to back their “you have to step down” rhetoric.

2-      Damascus sees significant upside potential (lots of carrots) to stepping down now in contrast to carrying on fighting.

3-      A significant core of the regime supporters start to accept the fact that the alternative will indeed be better than the present.

Even the strongest supporters of the regime readily admit that governing this country will be a formidable challenge should the leadership survive and manage to sail out of the eye of the storm.  This regime has been able to survive for nearly half a century against all odds. With every passing day, those betting on it to extend this run need their prayers answered by the almighty.

Let me conclude by quoting one of my dearest friends who wrote to me this morning:

“I pray Syrians are safe, and somehow by a miracle and the grace of god come out of this dark place”


Comments (208)

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201. Norman said:


Do you think that the US is repeating Afghanistan of the Eighties in Syria, defeating the Russians only to have the Taliban or the MB,

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February 12th, 2012, 8:33 pm


202. irritated said:

185. William Scott Scherk

One would attempt to “demonize” a powerful entity, not a weak one that all countries with few exceptions, have ignored after giving them a tap on the back and saying: Unify and come back.
I don’t need to demonize the SNC, it’s a pathetic failure, it needs people like you to believe in them.

I won’t discuss Arte, that’s the result of my personal observations on their programs that favor Israel and Jews with recurrent references to the holocaust much more than Palestine and the Arab suffering. You are free to disagree.

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February 12th, 2012, 8:55 pm


203. William Scott Scherk said:

Irritated says, “I won’t discuss ARTE.” That’s fine, it means to me that you acknowledge that yours is but an opinion, not subject to change, challenge or correction, but an opinion nevertheless. Thank you for that acknowledgement. So, confident statements of fact you may make on sundry subjects is but opinion, should you not wish to discuss, respond to questions, accept fact-checks or marshal an argument.

I will just restate my opinion: ARTE is not particularly suspect as a source, neither pro-Israel nor pro-Palestine. My opinion was backed up by a few observations and facts.

As for demonizing the SNC, and cheapening of discourse with Black/White descriptors, I stand by my observations. I say using emotionally-laden language to denigrate and debase an opponent is not good argument and is not particularly effective. It demeans and dehumanizes people on no good basis and to no good end.

Here is what is not acknowledged as an error: If LCCs comprise a part of the opinion landscape in the umbrella SNC, then SNC has more than zero credibility. To repeat that it has none, is failing, will tip into the bog, all run screaming from it … this approaches rant, not reasoning.

I object, as I always do, to the sneering “people like you” slur in irritable comments. This is another cheapening of discussion, and I wish we could avoid it as assiduously as some avoid the ins-and-outs of dialogue.

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February 12th, 2012, 9:13 pm


204. irritated said:

203. William Scott Scherk

The confirmation of my ‘opinion’ about the irrelevance of the SNC is in Idaf’s post.

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February 12th, 2012, 11:11 pm


205. Antoine said:

44. ALDENDESHE said :

“Naaaaaaah…..Bring me a cashier check/Bank draft from top 20 World Banks to cover the 7 million operational cash SNP is short and I will tell ya how it works. Sorry for the crude reply, but I am firm on that.”

Will SNP accept Bak Draft from those who are currently funding FSA ?

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February 13th, 2012, 3:06 am


206. Friend in America said:

Norman @ 201
The specialists I have talked to, or listened to, say they are very sensitive to the question you raised. The present diplomatic position is to cooperate with middle eastern countries already concerned such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia. I include the Saudis because they see the struggle with Iran as their dominant foreign policy concern. In my judgment 2012 may be a difficult year for America to be more assertive.

The situation in Syria is changing. Weapons are pouring over the borders on Syria’s east, south and west. Put in the hands of disciplined rebels, in 2012 the army and police will likely cede parts of the country and life in Damascus will become more unstable. The other senario is Iran and Russia will bring in even more weapons than it has already and the Assad government will terrorize the countryside. I forecast a very unsteady 2012 in Syria.

Not a pretty forecast for those who have so earnestly advocated peaceful non violent solutions, such as yourself and many others. You have my respect. Wish it could happen, but I never thought the Assads would agree to peaceful negotiations unless they felt confident the outcome would be preservation of Assad’s rule with all of the insistutions that suppport the regime intact.

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February 13th, 2012, 9:49 am


208. Ghufran said:

From what I see,Bashar has decided not to run again,and I support that decision,also,according to his own new const.,his terms have already ended in 2010.
The points I mentioned about the proposed new const. do not refer to that document as “bad” , I raised questions about how the committee was formed,how the referendum will be conducted and how to ensure that this regime,and any new regime,will abide by it.
I did not read the whole document,for lack of time not lack of interest,but I have not seen where it says the president has to be a Muslim,however,even regime supporters have said,until lately,that the article about the religion of the president was not removed,I hope it was,Syria must be a leader for the Arab World in tolerance and human rights and not bow to pressure from islamiists. If there are checks and balances,there should be no veto over the religion of any public figure running for office.

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February 15th, 2012, 8:19 am


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