Ibrahim Hamidi, “Political and Economic Factors of Syrian Stability”

Ibrahim Hamidi in al-Hayat

Local elections, new parliamentary elections, as well as party elections under new rules. These are some of the reforms that President Assad is promising Syria.

President Assad suggested in his WSJ interview that Syria was beginning a determined policy of reform. Hamidi outlines in greater detail what the President has in mind. In 2005, during the lead up to the convening of the Regional Baath Party convention, many of these proposals were talked about as if the convention would ratify them. None were.

Assad explained to the WSJ:

There are many things that we wanted to do in 2005, which we are planning to do in the year 2012, seven years later! It is not realistic to have a time frame because you are not living in a situation where you can control the events. I just started by saying that every week we have something new. So, you cannot predict what is going to happen next year. Of course, you always put a timetable but you rarely could implement that timetable.

In 2005, Syria had just pulled out of Lebanon under intense international pressure. The Bush administration was threatening Syria with isolation, hostile UN resolutions, the Hariri investigation, and increased financial and trade sanctions, not to mention the approaching Israeli war on Hizbullah and bombing of the Syrian nuclear plant as well as assassinations of a leading Syrian nuclear administrator, a leading Hizbullah figure, and Hamas operatives in Damascus. Cheney’s office had begun to direct MEPI money to the Syrian opposition; Representatives of the IRI and DNI came to Syria to scout for young activists who might help organize a more effective opposition to Assad that could be used to build domestic pressure. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt were recruited as the “moderate” Arabs to criticize Assad for his support for Hamas and Iran. They hammered home a sectarian theme in the hope of delegitimizing Syria’s “resistance” to George Bush’s effort in Iraq and Israel’s effort in Gaza and the West Bank. They demonized Syria as the treasonous state that had abandoned “real” Arabs, read Sunnis, in order to join the Shiite Crescent. Shiites in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, not to mention the Syrian regime came under intense military and political pressure from the “moderate” Arab regimes. President Assad had plenty of excuses to batten down the hatches and put off reforms.

Assad rationalized his delay in reforming the administrative law and more in 2005 during his WSJ interview by arguing that Syrians want stability and growth more than freedom and political reform. He explained:

So, reform in politics is important but it is not as important and urgent as the people waking every day and they want to eat, to have good health, to send their children to good schools. That is what they want. I want to feel safe in my own country. That is my goal….Actually, we postponed it because of the conflict. We took the decision in 2005 in one of the conferences of our party. At that time the conflict started by France, Britain, the United States and others trying to destabilize Syria. We said: okay, let us forget about it; we have something new. Now, we are very serious in finishing this. The second one is about civil society; we need to improve the civil society. Now, we are finalizing the law of the civil society….

Hamidi sets out Assad’s reforms to day – Administrative law, banking laws, private education and new universities,  new media law,  etc. He then explains how municipal elections and new Party elections will set the stage for new parliamentary elections.

عوامل سياسية واقتصادية للاستقرار السوري
السبت, 12 فبراير 2011
إبراهيم حميدي *

قراءة موضوعية لظروف كل دولة في المنطقة، تدل الى أن سورية تحظى بعوامل استقرار متينة سواء بالسياسة الخارجية أو الوضع الاقتصادي.

أولاً، تشكل السياسة الخارجية السورية تمثل نقطة قوة. من جهة، تحظى بشعبية واسعة استمرت عبر العقود، ومن جهة ثانية كانت دائماً انعكاساً شرعياً لإرادة السوريين خصوصاً ما يتعلق برفض السياسات الأميركية وإجراءات إسرائيل في المنطقة. وجاء الموقف السوري في رفض غزو العراق في عام 2003 مترافقاً مع دعم العراقيين الرافضين احتلالَه، نقطة إضافية في استمرار سياسة وطنية تحظى بأوسع دعم. وفي عام 2006، أسفر الاحتضان السوري المقاومة واثار الحرب في لبنان، عن نجاحات إضافية في الخيارات الخارجية.

وبعد نجاح في الخروج من دائرة الضغوطات ومحاولات العزلة، حافظت سورية على دورها الطبيعي لتكون منصة البحث عن الحلول لكثير من الأزمات في المنطقة. وغالباً، ما يأتي مبعوثون ديبلوماسيون الى دمشق بحثاً عن رؤى لحلول لمشاكل المنطقة. وعودة السفير الأميركي بعد خمس سنوات، إشارة رمزية الى أن سورية كانت على صواب في خياراتها، إضافة الى فشل محاولات دفع لبنان الى ادارة ظهره لسورية والى خيارات مضادة لمصالح البلدين.

هذه العوامل تشكل لدى السوريين بمختلف أطيافهم وخلفياتهم السياسية نقطة إجماع يمثلها الرئيس بشار الأسد بطريقة تتجاوز الحدود الجغرافية لسورية. يضاف الى ذلك، تحالف سـوري مـع قوى إقـليـمية صاعدة مثل تركيا وإيران يحـقق توازناً في الخيارات بين البلدين، في وقت تتراجع خيارات اقليمية أخرى راهنت على «شرق أوسط جديد» من نوع آخر.

ثانياً، تبنى الرئيس الأسد عملية الإصلاح منذ سنوات. وأدت تحديات إقليمية ودولية الى تغيير في الأولويات السورية. الحرب على الإرهاب بعد أحداث 11 أيلول (سبتمبر) 2001. والانتفاضة الفلسطينية مع تعثر عملية السلام ثم جمودها في الفترة الأخيرة بعد تشكيل حكومة يمينية برئاسة بنيامين نتانياهو في إسرائيل. الحرب على العراق وحربا إسرائيل في عام 2006 على لبنان وفي عام 2008 على قطاع غزة. حملة الضغوطات والتهديدات الخارجية.

كانت الأولوية، بالنسبة الى السوريين، الحفاظ على الاستقرار. والنقطة التي كانت ضعفاً في مكان آخر، صارت نقطة قوة. إذ وقف عموم السوريين وراء عنوان: الوقوف ضد التهديد الخارجي. لكن ذلك، لم يوقف عملية الإصلاح وان كان غير اولوياته. فكانت الأولوية الثانية، هي للإصلاح الإداري والاقتصادي عبر إصدار الرئيس الأسد سلة من التشريعات والقوانين التي تؤدي في المستقبل الى توفير ظروف لأوسع مشاركة. ولعل من أهم الإصلاحات كان في قطاع التعليم، عبر تأسيس جامعات ومدارس خاصة على أساس مناهج تعليمية عصرية، تؤدي في العقد المقبل الى جيل متوائم مع متغيرات العالم.

ولا يخرج عن هذا السياق، قانون الإعلام الذي سمح قبل بضع سنوات بتأسيس وسائل إعلام خاصة وفق آلية تدرجية للإصلاح. ويصدر حالياً عدد من المطبوعات والتلفزيونات والمواقع الإلكترونية السياسية وعشرات المطبوعات والإذاعات الاقتصادية والثقافية والاجتماعية، التي أدّت الى نوع من الحوار بين شرائح المجتمع. يترافق مع اندماج الشبيبة في العالم الافتراضي وشبكات التواصل الاجتماعي. وظهرت سلفاً ملامح تفاعل الشباب في المجتمع.

سيشهد هذا العام ثلاثة استحقاقات مهمة: انتخابات الإدارة المحلية، مجلس الشعب (البرلمان)، وانتخابات حزب «البعث». ويبدو واضحاً أن قانوناً جديداً لانتخابات الإدارة المحلية سيكون جاهزاً في المستقبل القريب استعداداً للانتخابات المحلية بالتزامن مع تعزيز اللامركزية في المحافظات والمدن لمزيد من الاستماع الى حاجات الناس. ولا شك أن انتخابات الإدارة المحلية، ستكون بوابة ستنعكس أيضاً في انتخابات البرلمان. ولا تخرج عن هذا السياق، العملية التي بدأت قبل أسابيع عبر حل فروع «البعث» في المحافظات واعتماد آلية جديدة للانتخابات تسمح بأكثر حد من التمثيلية لأعضائه وحاجات السوريين في مؤتمر الحزب المقرر في الفترة المستقبلية. ويضاف الى ذلك، ظهور إرادة سياسية واضحة بتفعيل دور المجتمع الأهلي عبر إقرار قانون جديد بعد حوار عميق بين معنيين، وتعزيز دور الجمعيات الأهلية في المشاركة في العمل الاجتماعي والتنمية الشاملة.

ثالثاً، يبرز البعد الاقتصادي عاملاً أساسياً. إذ حقق الاقتصاد الكلي نتائج إيجابية في السنوات الماضية مع توقع ارتفاع نسبة النمو الى 5.5 في المئة في السنوات المقبلة. وتأسست بيئة تشريعية لـ «اقتصاد السوق الاجتماعي» بدور إضافي للقطاع الخاص. كما طرحت سورية رؤية طموحة لدورها الاقتصادي الإقليمي عبر تعاون مع تركيا وإيران ولبنان والأردن ولدورها في المحيط الأوسع كرابط لخطوط نقل الغاز والنفط والطاقة.

لكن في الوقت نفسه، هناك الكثير من التحديات تتضمن معالجة «البعد الاجتماعي» للعملية الاقتصادية عبر الحد من البطالة وخلق فرص عمل إضافية وتحديات بسبب الجفاف العالمي في بعض المناطق من البلاد. أي، الحفاظ على إيقاع هذه التحديات ضمن الحدود الممكنة. ويبدو مهماً، الحفاظ على الطبقة الوسطى وتوسيعها وفق المتغيرات الاقتصادية الحاصلة.

هذه الأهداف، كانت ضمن الأمور التي وضعها معدو الخطة الخمسية الحادية عشرة منذ بداية العام الماضي، على أساس القناعة أن الحفاظ على المكتسبات الاجتماعية التي تحققت في العقود السابقة، التي تتعلق بأنماط مختلفة من الحماية والرعاية والخدمات الاجتماعية ومجانية التعليم والصحة والدعم الزراعي، كانت تتطلب إجراء الإصلاحات في السنوات السابقة.

من هنا، تأتي الخطة، التي تغطي بين عامي 2011 و2015 ، في سياق أن «الحفاظ على الإنجازات وتعميقها يعنيان الاستمرار في الإصلاح» الاقتصادي بعدما أنجزت الخطة السابقة التحول الهيكلي الموضوع «نحو اقتصاد السوق الاجتماعي من ناحية المبدأ والهياكل والمؤسسات وتركيبة الناتج المحلي وتركيبة قوة العمل»، بحسب نائب رئيس الوزراء للشؤون الاقتصادية عبدالله الدردري.

وتشير الأرقام الى ان 16 في المئة من اليد العاملة تعمل حالياً في القطاع الزراعي. ومن اصل 4400 بليون ليرة سورية (الدولار يساوي نحو 47 ليرة) رصدت في الخطة الحكومية، هناك نحو 700 بليون في القطاع الإنتاجي. وكان الدردري أوضح أن الإنفاق على الزراعة والري ارتفع من 260 بليون ليرة في السنوات الخمس الماضية الى اكثر من 404 بلايين ليرة في السنوات الخمس المقبلة، حيث يقام «صندوق دعم الزراعة» وتوسيع «صندوق التحول للري الحديث». وأعلن قبل أسبوعين عن «الصندوق الوطني للمعونة الاجتماعية» كأداة من أدوات الحماية الاجتماعية لمساعدة الأسر الأكثر احتياجاً. ويتوقع أن تستفيد 450 ألف أسرة، بكتلة مالية مقترحة تبلغ نحو 12 بليون ليرة سورية (نحو 250 مليون دولار).

كما ستنفق الدولة نحو 700 بليون ليرة لتطوير رأس المال البشري والاجتماعي، حيث يذهب جزء كبير من ذلك في التعليم الأساسي بمعنى إيقاف اي تسرب ومكافحة الأمية وتطبيق المناهج التربوية الجديدة وربط كل مدارس سورية بشبكة الحاسوب والإنترنت وتأهيل المدرسين والانتقال بنوعية التعليم في أنحاء البلاد الى نوعية عالية.

وتتضمن الخطة الخمسية الحادية عشرة، تحقيق نمو بنسبة ثلاثة في المئة في قوة العمل البالغة حالياً نحو خمسة ملايين من أصل نحو 22 مليون سوري، وخفض زيادة السكان من 2.4 الى 2.1 في الألف ومعدل البطالة الى 6.1 في المئة بدلاً من 8.1 في المئة وبناء 880 ألف وحدة سكنية ومعالجة السكن غير المنظم. وستكون في السنوات المقبلة، حصة الأجور الى الناتج المحلي نحو 40 في المئة بدلاً من 28 في المئة قبل سنوات و35 في المئة حالياً.

 * صحافي سوري من أسرة «الحياة»

Comments (12)


1. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

The same non-worthy promises of reform introduced 12 years ago. You can not milk a dead cow and don’t expect even this little to go into effect by a Baathist Regime anytime this decade or next. But who cares, Syria was written off long time ago, it is value is now purely strategic no more. So as long as Syria keeps Nationalist moral up, tighten and improve the good relations with Islamic Iran and support the resistance, support the helpless poor Shia in Lebanon against those evil Sunni traitors, never scum to the pressure of the false and fraudulent accusation of a sham Colonial court and hands out the Golan or the London cash stash (move it to the Emirates like Mubarak), we are “a happy camper” . LONG LIVE BASHAR ASSAD. ENJOY THE STAUS QUO. LOL, at least for 18 months until the Juntas in Egypt escape to Sinai and Leo Wanta cash stash to the Emirates.

P.S. Give this poor and brave people your support please, write them a support email, they need to be cheered : Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, acpra . net

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February 14th, 2011, 2:13 pm

 

2. Atassi said:

How this kind of headline can\will help the regime credibility with regards to an intended reforms !!!
——————————————————————-
“”A special Syrian security court sentenced a teenaged blogger “”
——————————————————————-

REFILE-Syria jails schoolgirl blogger for 5 years
14 February 2011
Reuters News
English
(c) 2011 Reuters Limited
* Molouhi motionless as judge reads sentence
* U.S. says spy charges baseless
* Jailing independent figures hallmark of modern Syria
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
DAMASCUS, Feb 14 (Reuters) – A special Syrian security court sentenced a teenaged blogger on Monday to five years in jail on charges of revealing information to a foreign country, despite U.S. calls to release her, rights defenders said.
The long jail term for high school student Tal al-Molouhi, under arrest since 2009 and now 19 years old, is another sign of an intensifying crackdown on opposition in Syria in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, they said.
Molouhi had written articles on the Internet saying she yearned for a role in shaping the future of Syria, which has been under the control of the Baath Party for the last 50 years.
She also asked U.S. President Barack Obama to do more to support the Palestinian cause. A security court charged her several months ago with “revealing information that should remain hushed to a foreign country”.
Wearing trousers and a cream coloured wool hat, Molouhi was brought chained and blindfolded under heavy security on Monday to the court, which convenes at a cordoned section of the Palace of Justice in the centre of the Syrian capital.
Molouhi was motionless after hearing the sentence and said nothing. Her mother, who was waiting in the courtyard, burst out crying after being told the sentence.
Lawyers, the only ones allowed in the closed session, said the judge — there are no prosecutors in the special court — did not give evidence or details as to why Molouhi was charged.
“Trumping up charges that imply treason as a lesson for others is quite old fashioned,” said a rights defender who has followed the case, asking not to be identified.
“Sadly, the regime has not learnt any lessons from Tunisia or Egypt,” the rights defender said, referring to upheaval that brought down the Tunisian and Egyptian leaders in recent weeks.
The U.S. State Department said last week that Molouhi should be released because allegations of U.S. espionage connections were baseless and Syrian citizens were entitled to universal rights of free expression.
MOTHER IMPLORES ASSAD
Molouhi’s mother, who saw her only twice since she was arrested, wrote a letter to President Bashar al-Assad last year imploring him to release her daughter, saying Molouhi had dabbled in politics without understanding it.
There was no comment from Syrian officials. Officials have previously said that political prisoners in Syria violated the constitution, which was amended in the 1970s to make the Baath Party “leader of the state and society”.
Molouhi’s arrest stirred a storm in the Arab blogosphere, with numerous postings lambasting what was called indiscriminate repression in Syria.
The Internet is a rare outlet for the expression of independent views in Syria, despite surveillance and bans on numerous sites. Several Syrian bloggers and writers have been arrested and sentenced to jail.
Harsher terms were handed out this year as mass protests helped by the Internet spread in the Arab Middle East.
The security court last month sentenced Abbas Abbas, an 69-year old leftist, to seven years in jail, while a 75-year old Islamist who called through the Internet for Egypt-like mass protests was also arrested.
The Syrian state has a long history of jailing political leaders. Leading opposition figure Riad al-Turk spent 25 years in prison, including more than 17 years in solitary confinement.
Eighty year-old Haitham al-Maleh, a former judged who criticised corruption, is serving a three year sentence, having spent seven years as a political prisoner in the 1980s.

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February 14th, 2011, 3:26 pm

 

3. Shami said:

The long jail term for high school student Tal al-Molouhi, under arrest since 2009 and now 19 years old

Was she 17 years old when arrested?

Anyway,It shows how perfidious is Bashar.

Averroes,Nour,Alex… ,how would you relativize this act of moqawama ?

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February 14th, 2011, 9:51 pm

 

4. Norman said:

Print Back to story

Revolution in Egypt should prompt peace talks between Syria and Israel

By Bilal Y. Saab Bilal Y. Saab
Mon Feb 14, 1:01 pm ET

College Park, Md. – The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the ensuing political transition in Cairo has created a wave of uncertainty over the strategic politics of the Middle East, carrying both risks and opportunities for US interests and allies in the region. One potential and less-than-obvious opportunity is to relaunch peace talks between Syria and Israel.

Admittedly, most American policymakers are focused squarely on the risks. Many analysts are trying to gauge the likelihood that a new government in Cairo, responding to popular demands, could decide to cancel its peace treaty with Israel.

It’s an understandable concern, but the evidence suggests that post-Mubarak Egypt will remain a peace partner to Israel. The Egyptian military has issued a statement suggesting that Egypt will respect all international treaties it has signed. Meanwhile, alarmist commentary that suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood could “take over” the country and terminate the peace treaty with Israel is baseless and sensationalist. The Muslim Brotherhood is likely to be a force in post-Mubarak Egypt, but the movement will neither monopolize nor dominate national policy and political opinion because its support base remains relatively small, and its ability to expand is limited.

RELATED: Syrian secularism: a model for the Middle East

Yet this very alarmism, in addition to internal threat perceptions in Syria, could revitalize the Syrian-Israeli peace track.

Syria and Israel have not been able to reach a peace agreement over the years in large part because neither country has felt a sense of urgency for doing so. While peace was and continues to be desirable for both sides, the continuation of the status quo was not viewed as costly or intolerable – until now perhaps.

A needed shockIn the past, both countries preferred to kick the can down the road until conditions changed and became ripe for peace. The consensus among analysts and policymakers in Washington was that for Syrian-Israeli peace to be achieved, a major shock to the external or internal environments in which both countries operate would have to take place in order to break the logjam and alter the strategic calculus of both sides.

The success of the Egyptian uprising represents precisely that kind of strategic driver that could reshuffle the deck of Syrian-Israeli relations and move their peace process forward. Two things explain this potential development: First, Egypt’s uncertain political future has made Israel nervous about its external security environment.

Jerusalem’s perspectivePerceptions matter greatly in international relations. Even though post-Mubarak Egypt is likely to preserve its peace treaty with Israel, Israel’s worldview and perception of external military threats may have already changed and taken a more pessimistic turn. Consider Jerusalem’s perspective: Turkish-Israeli relations are uncertain at best, Iran seems determined to acquire nuclear weapons, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is dead, and Hezbollah’s political and military power is at an all-time high. Add to that the serious concern over Egypt’s political direction and you have a worried leadership in Israel. To balance against perceived security threats, reduce strategic uncertainty, and ameliorate its deteriorating external environment, Israel may have fresh incentive to reach out to Syria and cooperate on a peace deal.

Incentives for SyriaSecond, a similar logic could apply to Syria, although in Syria’s case, the potential threat that could encourage it to cooperate on issues of peace with Israel today is primarily internal in nature. Like all other authoritarian countries in the Middle East, Syria is worried about the potential spillover of the success of the Egyptian uprising into its own territory. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is perhaps more brutal than Mubarak’s, its clientelistic network of relations with the military and societal elites and businessmen is more extensive than Mubarak’s, and the Syrian opposition is much smaller and weaker than Egypt’s. But this does not mean that Syria is immune to social upheaval and unrest. That very likelihood, in fact, is what could drive Damascus to knock on Israel’s door and talk peace, as part of a strategy designed to bolster the legitimacy of the Ba’athist regime and secure its long-term survival.

Resolving territorial disputes to defuse internal threats is a strategy that several authoritarian regimes have used effectively in recent years. For example, internal threats played a prominent role in an attempt to settle the Iran-Iraq dispute over the Shatt-al-Arab waterway (although the attempt ultimately failed). Also, China has cooperated consistently on several external territorial disputes when its regime faced or perceived it was facing political unrest at home.

A golden opportunityThis is a golden opportunity for Syria and Israel to test each other’s intentions. The process would still require US mediation, of course, given the lingering mistrust between the two countries. US input also remains central, because the United States is the only actor that can provide Israel and Syria with the security and political assurances they need to finalize a deal. Also, only Washington can finance a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement and make it “stick.” The contours of the settlement are well known and have not changed since December 1999 when the two parties extensively negotiated in Washington and then Shepherdstown, W.V.: Israel would return the Golan Heights to Syria and withdraw to the 1967 lines. Syria would normalize relations with Israel and provide it with tangible security assurances in return.

ANOTHER VIEW: Don’t give up the Golan Heights

The Obama administration is understandably preoccupied with managing a highly volatile transition in Egypt. But amid the chaos, there is an important opportunity that should not be missed. If Washington’s broader objective is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the Egyptian transition and introduce some stability to the strategic politics of the Middle East, then one crucial way to do so is to push for Syrian-Israeli peace. Fast-moving changes in Egypt are heightening Israel’s and Syria’s feeling of strategic vulnerability. The Obama administration should keep that in mind and take advantage of these favorable conditions before they change.

Bilal Y. Saab is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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February 14th, 2011, 9:52 pm

 

5. JH said:

I agree with Shami and Atassi and would like to add:

Perhaps Josh would, in the light of this story about Tal al-Molouhi, like to reconsider both the tone and substance of his recent comments to al-Jazeera English:

“An important factor is that he’s popular among young people,” Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and author of Syria Comment, says. “Unlike Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, who’s 83, Bashar al-Assad is young. Young people are quite proud of him. They may not like the regime, they don’t like corruption and a lot of things, but they tend to blame this on the people around him, the ‘old guard’.”

It is a serious thing, in the light of the tremendous changes shaking the region from Tunisia and Egypt, to risk appearing to apologise for, or to accept, a regime such as that which is being led by Assad in Syria.

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February 15th, 2011, 12:25 am

 

6. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Hold your horses. It may me orchestrated. The court convicted her and young Bashar pardon her to keep the youth on his side. Otherwise, if no pardon, she must did something serious effecting National Security. They would not bother otherwise. There are thousands of Syrians accessing all kind of sites that are blocked in Syria and blogging without security arresting them. If you are in Syria and blogging, you need to be careful who is on that same platform operating as imposter under fictitious name or personality, even stolen identity. You could be unknowingly talking to Mossad agent who is asking you questions about Syria and you casually responding thinking that he is your high school buddy in Germany. There could be more to the story than you know.

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February 15th, 2011, 1:02 am

 

7. ALIEN IN SYRIA said:

IN MY OPINION HERE PROBLEMS ARE JUST POSTPONED, THERE IS A KIND OF SENSE OF HOPES IN THE SOCIETY (promises of development, ameliorations of economic and social status, better educations, more opportunities for many etc.), AT LEAST PART OF IT (another part has already no hopes of changes and survive with the low prices commodities and subventions, when they will dissappears what they will do?)… IF THESE HOPES WILL VANISH THEN SERIOUS PROBLEMS WILL COME AND I FEEL HERE IT WILL BE A BLOODY REVOLUTION WITH ALL THE SECTARIAN FACTORS PLAYING A BIG ROLE… SURIA ALLAH IAMIHA!!!

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February 15th, 2011, 3:26 am

 

8. Souri said:

Thank you Dr. Landis for your valuable post.

Like I said before, web comments do not faithfully reflect the general mood INSIDE Syria. Most Syrians have been angered by the rise in commodity prices (especially diesel prices which most Syrians used for heating). However, this anger has no real economic basis. The Syrian government has provided various forms of subsidy to compensate for the rise in commodity prices. The problem in Syria is largely cultural and psychological. Syrians are used to the ‘socialist’ model of life, whereby you consume too much and produce too little. Syrians hate to receive subsidy in the form of money payments from the government and prefer instead to have awfully low prices for everything. Syrians hate to increase their working hours and alter their lifestyle to a more productive lifestyle. We have a very lazy middle class that has yet to adapt to a new, more productive and more efficient lifestyle. Of course, the Syrian media is not helping at all to ease the transition since it continues to hammer us with Soviet-style propaganda that serves only to ignite the situation even more.

This is the main reason for the anger in Syria. It is the pain of economic reform and increased production. As usual, various opportunistic groups are trying to ride on this pain and give it a political outlook, especially an Islamist outlook. Democratic activists have no real influence in Syria; the only groups that can influence the public are the ignorant Islamists who dwell in mosques and have control over many aspects of Syrians personal lives. These groups are very powerful, and they respond viciously whenever the regime tries to decrease their influence over the public. Over its 4-decade rule, the regime has succeeded very little in weakening the influence these groups. The Syrian regime prefers to cooperate with them rather than to confront them, and when it has no choice but to confront them the regime always uses force instead of defying them intellectually, because the regime knows that they will pull out the sectarian card against it (which they always do).

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February 15th, 2011, 5:33 am

 

9. majedkhaldoon said:

Liberating Palastine must start from liberating the people from their dictators,Freedom,Democracy is the road that leads to unite the Arab,dictators are the enemy.
Three dictators are gone,Saddam,BinAli,And Mubarak,several are still there,we have a long way yet,I hope things will accelerate.
As far as Tal Almallouhi,secret court is bad we need tranparency,I doubt 18 year old girl is a spy,she should be freed right away.

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February 15th, 2011, 6:26 am

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

So Hard to get a “Thank You” NewZ

majedkhaldoon said:

Three dictators are gone,Saddam,BinAli,And Mubarak,several are still there,we have a long way yet,I hope things will accelerate.

Majed,

Which “several are still there”? Feel free to be specific.

Also, one of the three “dictators” you mentioned would still be there if it wasn’t for the most hated American president in recent memory:

GWB

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February 15th, 2011, 7:54 am

 

11. majedkhaldoon said:

Akpar
All the rest
However I believe that you,the zionist, must be scared,Democracy and freedom is good to the Arab,bad for the zionist entity,which ,I am telling you now, has no future in the middle East,in the status it enjoy now,it has no future,it is based on violence ,racism, hatred,from now on good humanitarian state will have victory over evil Israel,Israel has no future in the middle East.

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February 15th, 2011, 8:41 am

 

12. Ghat Albird said:

A must read for Zionists.

“The Arabs will be our problem for a long time…They’re ten to one, but don’t we Jews have ten times their intelligence?”

A False Peace: Egypt’s Relationship with Israel — and Ours
by M. Junaid Levesque-Alam, February 13, 2011

Antiwar Forum

When the tumult in Tunisia and Egypt shattered the deep freeze that has afflicted Arabs for almost four decades, countries fond of touting democracy should have been leading the celebrations. Instead, the reigning mood among elites in the United States, and especially in Israel, was one of fear and trepidation.

Though the Obama administration once sounded a supportive note for the popular rebellion, insisting that the “transition” begin “now” or even “yesterday”, it shifted its stance overnight, citing the dangers of revolution and the merits of Mubarak’s intelligence chief, torturer Omar Suleiman. The reversal came on the back of pressure exerted by America’s other clients in the Arab world and Israeli leaders, who both dread the prospect of region-wide revolt.

Accompanied by a chorus of spineless pundits, America and its allies now mouth the rationales of the dictator himself: stability is good; change is bad; horrors will befall us if the Muslim Brotherhood wins a share of power.

While the hand-wringing of other Arab autocrats should not be discounted, it is the potential disruption to the Egypt-Israel relationship that powered the policy reversal. The Israelis have made known their fear that change in Egypt will leave them bereft of friends “in the neighborhood” — a serious predicament for a state founded, through ethnic cleansing, on top of the neighborhood.

Israel’s security, its leaders and American allies insist, thus depends on its longstanding “peace” treaty with Egypt, signed after the 1978 Camp David Accords. American media outlets and pundits have slavishly echoed this line, warning that a successful revolution may end this much-coveted “peace”, which, we are told, is vital for both Israel and America.

What is it about this “peace” that is so vital that it trumps democracy among avowed democrats?

Turning to the dictionary, we find that peace is: “a state of harmony between people or groups; freedom from strife; reconciliation; the state existing during the absence of war.” While scant harmony exists between Egyptians and Israelis, one might think that the minimum definition — “the state existing during the absence of war” — accurately describes what the treaty represents.

The treaty, however, was a tiger’s smile: an invitation not to dine but to become dinner. It produced no rollback of Israeli expansion. It signified abandonment of the Palestinians, who remained stateless. It demoralized the public, whose government prevented them from helping fellow Arabs. It engendered pointless hatred, as the regime encouraged anti-Israel angst to curtail anti-regime action. And it paralyzed progress, as unpopular leaders eviscerated civil society to maintain their foreign alliances and bribes.

Thus the “peace” between Egypt and Israel has spawned not an “absence of war” but wars of absence: absent meaningful support for Palestinians, terrorist and Islamist groups filled the void through violence; absent a functional society, millions of youth are unemployed; absent representative leadership, these youth and others are now revolting across the nation; absent American support for democracy, the people are increasingly disillusioned with America.

What, then, is the value of a “peace” overlaid with conflict after conflict? The answer is simple: a tiger never declines a free meal.

Israel, unlike Egypt, benefited greatly from the treaty, colonizing and killing at will, now under the cover of “peace.” True, the Jewish state could have struck a genuine regional peace deal years ago — but why bother when the neighbors can be devoured so easily? Israeli leaders have long adhered to the judgment of early Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann: “The Arabs will be our problem for a long time…They’re ten to one, but don’t we Jews have ten times their intelligence?” Egypt’s jaunt into Israel’s open jaws in 1978 only encouraged that view.

But now, with the Egyptian regime and Jewish “intelligence” superiority in doubt, Israel is desperate to retain its advantage.

Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli trade minister and friend of Mubarak, opined that the revolt was “a big blow” in an interview with Israeli Army radio. The Israelis have doubtless lobbied on behalf of America’s newfound darling, Suleiman, whom Israel has anointed its preferred successor to Mubarak since at least 2008. Eli Shaked, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, coyly described the installation of Suleiman as “the positive scenario” for his country. And to make sure this non-transition transition goes smoothly, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has rushed to schedule a meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Barak’s likely message — dark warnings about an Islamist Egypt seeking Israel’s destruction — remains a figment of the Israel’s cult of victimhood. But it is true that an Egypt and an Arab world shaken loose of quislings would offer a sincere hand to dispossessed Palestinians — and why should we object?

Is it in America’s best interests to tether itself to Israel’s delusions of racial-religious supremacy? Should we expend endless treasure to preserve an Israel-first regional order and suppress the Arabs until the end of time? A freer Arab world and meaningful assistance to isolated Palestinians would lift millions out of frustration and despair, slicing the lifeline to the same extremism that flourishes today thanks in large part to America’s Israel-first foreign policy.

For Egyptians, the revolt is their first chance in decades to reverse course and retrieve dignity and independence. Our foreign policy could benefit from their example.

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February 15th, 2011, 10:12 am

 

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