Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
This hour, On Point: NPR – the U.S. and the red line. Should the US intervene?
- Anne Barnard, Middle East reporter for the New York Times. (@abarnardnyt)
- Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Blogs at “Syria Comment.” (@joshua_landis)
- Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (@shadihamid)
How do the risks and interests of the United States intervening in the Syrian conflict balance with the risk of doing nothing? For two perspectives, Judy Woodruff talks with Murhaf Jouejati and Joshua Landis
Responses from Listeners
From: Brent Bruser
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 7:09 AM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Subject: News Hour of 4/29/13Dr Landis
I wish to thank you and applaud your brilliant, logical engagement in last night’s discussion concerning the USA’s role in Syria. It is hard for me to understand and accept the rising rhetoric for escalating our involvement. Your observations were right on and should give all Americans pause. Our President needs support to show restraint. I do not understand the media’s role in the conversation and their apparent willingness to help march us into another terrible, terrible situation, even war.
From: G.B. Smith
Sent: Mon, April 29, 2013 6:22:47 PM
Subject: Comments on PBS 4/29/13
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 9:40 PM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
From: Christopher Brauchli [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:45 AM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Hi Joshua: As someone who grew up in Oklahoma City but left in 1952 after high school it’s refreshing to occasionally hear a voice of reason from that state. …Your comments on the News Hour were refreshing. Some day perhaps we’ll quit thinking we can control what goes on all over the world. Chris Brauchli
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 7:40 AM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Subject: Nice job on the NewsHour
Thanks for your comments on the PBS NewsHour. You made so much sense. ….
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 7:53 AM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Subject: Good and timely points
Dear Prof Landis,
In the midst of a fever rising here to choose military means to fix another middle eastern crisis, I was so happy to hear you on PBS last night explain why this is a bad idea.
Also I was happy to hear you explain that the war is not between the syrian people and the regime but rather among two large camps of syrian people, one of which loyal to the regime and the other in revolt.
Also your point that with lots of men, money and effort, we have not fixed either Iraq or Afghanistan is a telling one…
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 9:15 PM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Subject: News Hour Tonight
Absolutely right you are. Hold the line. I like the vigor of your response.
@newshouromg Joshua is advocating genocide
— rami kamal (@ke2233) April 30, 2013
— Sumayya (@Sumayya92) April 30, 2013
@joshua_landis Sorry to tell you your knowledge is poor about syria.all what you said is incorrect.you need to go back to college to learn
— dr.Larry (@Larryj2121) April 29, 2013
Durry wrote: “While Joshua Landis was bringing Iraq and Afghanistan example repeatedly to remind the viewers of the high cost of the US involvement, I wish Murhaf Jouejati mentioned Libya’s example, that is the most likely scenario to what will happen in Syria. My dear freind Josh, your family affiliation has really clouded your objectivity in this conflict, I still respect you a lot, but I think you may need to leave the in-laws influence at home instead of bringing it on national TV.”
Bassel H. Atasi Your point of view is, sadly, very wrong, as professor Juijati said. That is a shame. You don’t have a good grasp on the reality of the situation in Syria, or Syrian history and culture. Syria and Afghanistan are 2 very different countries with different cultures and history.
You don’t have to look far to realize why @joshua_landis is a sectarian bigot.
— Tarik Al-Diery (@AlCazanova) April 30, 2013
The US has not been neutral in the Syrian revolution as @joshua_landis claiming , US allowed Russia complete control of situation
— اغين الزعبي (@agh_yan) April 30, 2013
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 8:14 PM
To: Landis, Joshua M.
Subject: Interview with PBS
News Round Up
Americans are exhibiting an isolationist streak, with majorities across party lines decidedly opposed to American intervention in North Korea or Syria right now as economic concerns continue to dwarf all other issues, according to the latest New York …
WaSHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama cautioned against a rush to judgment on whether Syria used chemical weapons against its own people on Tuesday in a sign he is going to take a deliberate approach to a problem that could lead to U.S.
U.S. Analysis of Syria’s Russian-Made Air Defenses
Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2013, —Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes
WASHINGTON—Lawmakers pressed the Obama administration to intervene in Syria’s civil war, citing the regime’s alleged chemical-weapons use, as the White House weighed its response against a sobering fact: Damascus has developed a world class air-defense system.
That system, built, installed and maintained—largely in secret—by Russia’s military complex, presents a formidable deterrent as the White House draws up options for responding to a U.S. intelligence report released last week concluding that Damascus likely used chemical weapons on the battlefield.
Leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Sunday said they didn’t believe the U.S. should send American troops into Syria. They and the Obama administration are wary about U.S. involvement in another Middle East conflict after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But some called for a no-fly zone and more humanitarian aid.
Previously undisclosed details about Syria’s antiaircraft systems outline the evolution of one of the most advanced and concentrated barriers on the planet, developed to ward off U.S. and Israeli warplanes, say U.S. intelligence and defense officials. The Obama administration only sporadically intervened to try to stop its construction, the officials say.
In White House meetings about military options for Syria, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, frequently singles out Mr. Assad’s air-defense prowess as the single biggest obstacle to U.S. intervention, according to current and former officials who participated in the briefings.
Advocates of military action believe the threat posed by Syria’s defenses is overstated by the Obama administration, in part to justify not taking action. Some have cited Israel’s successful bombing in January that targeted a suspected SA-17 antiaircraft missile shipment.
However, as Pentagon officials later learned, the Israeli planes never entered Syrian airspace.
Instead, the Israeli warplanes were flying over Lebanon when they executed what is called a “lofting” maneuver—using a sudden burst of speed and altitude to catapult a bomb across the border to the target about 10 miles inside Syria, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. account of the Israeli operation
.Israeli officials said the decision was made to bomb from nd tracked many of the upgraded systems during a period of rapid modernization after a 2007 Israeli airstrike on a suspected Syrian nuclear site. But the Americans rarely interfered, viewing Iran as the region’s larger threat and, under the Obama administration, initially pursuing improved ties with both Russia and Syria.
Obama administration officials say they raised their concerns with Moscow in their meetings even if they knew Russia was unlikely to respond.
Now, with evidence mounting that the Syrian regime has used at least small amounts of chemical weapons against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, the consequences of policy choices from a prior decade may limit the ability of the U.S. and its allies to respond today.
President Barack Obama has sethe relative safety of Lebanese airspace for diplomatic as well as security reasons. The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
Gen. Dempsey has told the White House that stealth aircraft and ship-based, precision-guided missiles could destroy many Syrian air-defense sites relatively quickly. But he has warned policy makers that mobile launchers would be harder to find and destroy and that their location among population centers likely would mean civilian casualties.
Officials believe any operation would also be costly and dangerous to U.S. personnel.
On Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), a sharp critic of Mr. Obama’s Syria policy, didn’t discuss those risks in arguing that the U.S. should support a no-fly zone with unmanned aircraft to protect civilians and rebels. Other lawmakers called for more humanitarian aid. “We can get in and out. That’s not the issue,” said a senior U.S. official. “The issue is can you take out the entire air defense system and keep it down. That’s just completely a different kettle of fish.”
U.S. officials were aware of Russia’s involvement a
t the use of chemical weapons as a “red line” that could trigger U.S. military involvement. Reluctant to intervene, however, the White House has called for a deeper international investigation into evidence pointing to the likelihood that Syrian forces have gassed their opponents.
“We knew the Syrians were bolstering their air defense systems. We saw this as a Syrian effort to deter Israeli incursions,” said one of the senior U.S. officials who helped oversee those efforts during Mr. Obama’s first term. “But we [the U.S.] would pay attention to it sporadically. We had to pick and choose. The main focus was Iran.”
U.S. officials believe Russia’s goal in helping Mr. Assad was to deter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from intervening in Syria as the alliance did in Libya in 2011 and in Serbia in 1998, operations Moscow opposed.
U.S. officials believe Russian technicians are on hand with many of the Syrian air-defense units, providing technical assistance. The Russians, many employees of Russian defense contractors, repair broken equipment with components imported from Russia, the officials said.
Officials at the Russian embassy in Washington said they don’t discuss military and technical cooperation with other countries. But Moscow has denied any special relationship with Mr. Assad, arguing that Russia is supporting the principle of nonintervention.
The first air-defense deals between Russia and Syria date back decades. But Russia in recent years has stepped up shipments to modernize Syria’s targeting systems and make the air defenses mobile, and therefore much more difficult for Israel—and the U.S.—to overcome.
The U.S. detected Mr. Assad was seeking major air defense expansions after a series of foreign incursions, including the 2007 Israeli bombing of a suspected nuclear site at al Kibar; the February 2008 assassination in Damascus of Imad Mugniyah, a high-ranking Hezbollah military commander; and a September 2008 car bombing that U.S. officials say targeted a Syrian military intelligence facility.
Embarrassed by Israel’s ease of access to his country, Mr. Assad plunged into an effort to procure batteries of Russian interceptors and early warning systems. He arrayed them in overlapping concentric circles in and around population centers.
According to an internal U.S. intelligence assessment, in August 2008, Russia began shipping SA-22 Pantsir-S1 units to Syria. The system, a combination surface-to-air missile and 30 mm antiaircraft gun, has a digital targeting system and is mounted on a combat vehicle, making it easy to move. Today, Syria has 36 of the vehicles, according to the U.S. assessment.
In 2009, the Russians started upgrading Syria’s outdated analog SA-3 surface-to-air missile systems, turning them into the SA-26 Pechora-2M system, which is mobile and digital, equipped with missiles with an operational range of 17 miles.
The U.S. is particularly worried about another modernized system provided by Moscow—the SA-5. With an operational range of 175 miles, SA-5 missiles could take out U.S. planes flying from Cyprus, a key NATO base that was used during Libya operations and would likely be vital in any Syrian operation.
Since March 2011, when the rebellion against Mr. Assad started, Russia has continued to support the air-defense system, providing key components and replacement parts, and sending technicians to test it, U.S. officials say.
Officials suspect one of the Pechoras shot down a Turkish reconnaissance plane last June, an incident closely studied by the U.S. and cited as evidence the system hasn’t been degraded by the conflict.
Last November, U.S. intelligence agencies learned that a flight from Russia to Syria was carrying components for the SA-17 Grizzly antiaircraft system, according to U.S. officials, who say resupply flights continue.
The Pentagon decided it could do little to stop the shipments, reflecting Washington’s shifting views of Damascus and a lack of U.S. influence with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“A major focus has been on offensive weapons, not defensive,” a senior Obama administration said of the U.S.’s approach under Mr. Obama toward arms transfers to Syria.
Defense officials worried that raising U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria could prompt Moscow to retaliate by making it harder for the U.S. to use needed air and ground routes though Russian territory to withdraw military supplies from Afghanistan.
Pentagon officials concluded it wasn’t realistic to try to block all sales of air-defense systems. Instead, they decided to target what officials called “game changers”—the systems that most threaten Israel and the U.S.
U.S. doubts on Syria lie in how sarin exposure occurred
By Paul Richter, Ken Dilanian and David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
Intelligence agencies are confident the poison gas was released but are less sure about whether Bashar Assad’s regime is responsible or even whether it was deliberate.
After weeks of skepticism about reports that chemical weapons had been used, the Obama administration announced Thursday that the agencies making up the intelligence community had concluded “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrian regime had used sarin on a “small scale.”
Before deciding on a response, the administration said, it wants definitive proof that the regime used the poison gas. It said it would work with the United Nations and allies such as France and Britain to find the answer.
Analysis: No good military options for U.S. in Syria
By Phil Stewart and Peter Apps,| Sat Apr 27, 2013
(Reuters) – Despite President Barack Obama’s pledge that Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a “game changer” for the United States, he is unlikely to turn to military options quickly and would want allies joining him in any intervention.
Possible military choices range from limited one-off missile strikes from ships – one of the less complicated scenarios – to bolder operations like carving out no-fly safe zones.
One of the most politically unpalatable possibilities envisions sending tens of thousands of U.S. forces to help secure Syrian chemical weapons…
“There’s a lot of analysis to be done before reaching any major decisions that would push U.S. policy more in the direction of military options,” a senior U.S. official told Reuters.
That caution is understandable, given the experience of Iraq ….
STRIKES, NO-FLY ZONE
One form of military intervention that could to some extent limit U.S. and allied involvement in Syria’s war would be one-off strikes on pro-Assad forces or infrastructure tied to chemical weapons use. Given Syria’s air defenses, planners may choose to fire missiles from ships at sea.
“The most proportional response (to limited chemical weapons use) would be a strike on the units responsible, whether artillery or airfields,” said Jeffrey White,…
Another option that the Pentagon has examined involves the creation, ostensibly in support of Turkey and Jordan, of humanitarian safe areas that would also be no-fly zones off limits to the Syrian air force – an option favored by lawmakers including Senator John McCain of Arizona.
This would involve taking down Syrian air defenses and destroying Syrian artillery from a certain distance beyond those zones, to protect them from incoming fire.
Advocates, including in Congress, say a safe zone inside Syria along the Turkish border, for example, would give needed space for rebels and allow the West to increase support for those anti-Assad forces it can vet.
Still, as officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have warned, once established, a safe zone would tie the United States more closely to Syria’s messy conflict. Assad would almost certainly react.
“Once you set up a military no-fly zone or safe zone, you’re on a slippery slope, mission creep and before you know it, you have boots on the ground,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution.
“Or you end up like Libya where you don’t really have a control mechanism for the end-game, should you end up with chaos.”
…. leaving weapons sites vulnerable to pillaging. The U.S. fears anti-Assad Islamist rebels affiliated to al Qaeda could grab the chemical weapons but a U.S. intervention into Syria to get the arms would require tens of thousands of American troops.
Asked if he was confident the U.S. military could secure Syria’s chemical weapons stock, Dempsey told Congress: “Not as I sit here today simply because they have been moving it and the number of sites is quite numerous.”…
The Economics of Civil War in Syria
Faysal Itani | April 18, 2013 – Atlantic Council
Without foreign military intervention or a substantial boost in military support for the rebels, the civil war in Syria will probably destroy its state and economy. This has spurred much discussion in policy circles about Syria’s postwar reconstruction and economic recovery, which could cost an estimated $80 billion. Much of it has rightly focused on reestablishing and strengthening trade, investment, and monetary stability. But focusing solely on key sectors and best practices of development neglects the role of wartime elites in postwar economies. Postwar reconstruction efforts that do not account for the economic logic of civil war and the interest groups it creates may well fail, and even lead to a resumption of fighting. Policymakers involved in building a new Syrian economy will therefore face fiendishly difficult choices.
Civil wars present unique challenges to rebuilding efforts, due to the destruction they inflict on state institutions and a country’s social fabric. Syria has already seen two years of fighting, and there is no indication of an end to the war. The collapse of government authority and services in much of the country has led to a proliferation of militias and the emergence of a war economy led by new elites. In addition to the current problems of inflation, soaring unemployment, a shortage of basic goods, and a weakening currency and financial system, economic reconstruction efforts will have to contend with troubling new realities: a vast informal economy and black market; the rise of militia leaders as business actors, rent-seekers and patronage distributors; unemployed fighters who will need to demobilize and rejoin civilian life; and rising sectarianism coloring many aspects of economic, political, and social life.
Lebanon faced many of the same challenges following the end of its own civil war (1975-1990). Fifteen years of fighting had essentially destroyed the state by the time a peace accord was signed, leading to near-total economic collapse. Significantly, the war began as a conflict between two broad political factions but, as in Syria, within a few years the number of factions and front lines multiplied exponentially. Rival militias carved out their geographic and economic spheres of influence, and many of their leaders grew exceedingly wealthy. Civil war took on an economic logic of its own.
Lebanon’s war was not fought over economic issues, but the deepening parochialism of the conflict and focus on war as a money-making enterprise certainly complicated peace efforts and postwar development. Something similar appears to be happening within the Syrian rebellion, with reports of looting by fighters. Some rebels treat private property in captured territory as spoils of war, and a mentality of plunder is taking root among militias (jihadist groups are reportedly more disciplined, but constitute a fraction of total fighters and, in any case, are not likely to play a significant role in post conflict development). Lebanon witnessed the same wartime phenomenon, and was only able to end its civil war and begin to recover economically by granting rival militia leaders a major stake in the postwar economy. This was seen as the only way to commit the civil war elites to peace and demobilization, and led to the emergence of postwar business elites closely connected to and sometimes overlapping with the political elite.
Syria’s dominance of postwar Lebanon allowed it to act as an arbiter and distributor of economic largesse to rival factions. Thus far, no one foreign actor appears ready to assume responsibility for postwar Syria. On the contrary, local militant groups fighting the same enemy (the regime) are backed by rival foreign powers, and increasingly fear and distrust one another. The absence of an overlord of sorts may complicate efforts to enforce a division of public services, jobs, and resources among militia members and supporters, and hinder economic recovery in general.
In addition to the rise of new elites from the ranks of militias, there is likely to be some continuity between pre and postwar power groups in Syria. This applies to the Sunni business class, which has been slow to turn against a regime that historically protected its commercial interests. Less obviously, it also applies to the Alawite elite: some analysts predict that a rebel victory would trigger an Alawite migration to a sectarian enclave in the northwest, leaving the cities and their lucrative economies to the Sunnis. This is one possibility of course, but not a very likely one. Elites, including or perhaps especially minority elites, seldom cede hard-won power and economic privileges easily. The Alawites share a vivid collective memory of their misery and crushing poverty in pre-Assad Syria. They will probably use any means to ensure they retain a stake in the postwar economy, in which they will almost certainly play some role. Whether this is a spoiler role—perhaps in the form of an insurgency—or a helpful one will depend on the postwar order’s ability to extend state patronage to Alawite groups….
…The only independent variable you need to understand the resilience of the Syrian regime is the kin-based and sectarian (Alawite) nature of its military. All other purported factors are in fact dependent variables. ….
Sectarianism is a powerful instrument to make sure that you can use the army’s full military might against the population. No military that is reasonably representative of the population could do what the Syrian army did over the last two years, i.e. destroying most of the country’s major cities, including large parts of the capital. You need a sectarian or ethnic divide that separates the core of the military from the target population. Algeria went through a nasty civil war in the 1990s, and Algerian generals are ruthless people, but I do not think that the Algerian military ever used heavy artillery against one of the country’s large cities. The fact that the best units in the Syrian military are largely manned with Alawite soldiers (in addition to members of some loyal Bedouin clans) has been key to explaining the level of violence we have seen over the last two years. Of course, the majority of Syrian soldiers are Sunnis, but it is striking that Asad did only use a minority of the army’s available units: according to some observers, only one third of the army was entrusted with combat missions since the start uprising. Seen from that angle, the purported “cohesion” of the Syrian army becomes much less puzzling: the risk of defections significantly decreases when two-third of the soldiers are in fact locked up in their barracks, or at least kept away from the battlefield.
Syrian Religious Leaders Commit to Establish
the Inter-religious Council of Syria—Religions for Peace
Istanbul, Turkey | 18-20 April 2013
A wide range of Syrian religious leaders convened in Istanbul to advance multi-religious cooperation for peace in Syria during a meeting, Syria for all Syrians. They committed themselves to the establishment of a Syrian Religions for Peace Council (RfP—Syria).
irst: Principles and Visions
A. That all religions renounce violence, corruption and the destruction of humanity and the environment. All religions advocate peace and love. All Syrians deserve to live a free, dignified and virtuous life.
B. Preserving the unity of Syria, land and people, is a national duty.
C. Syria is for all Syrians regardless of their affiliations. Syrians are united in citizenship regardless of their religion, creed, ethnicity, gender and regionalism.
D. Our commitment to moderation compels us to reject all kinds of violations, particularly those instigated by fanaticism and hatred.
E. Syria is a country of diversity. Cultural and civilizational diversity is the source of wealth for all.
F. Emphasize and nurture all commonalities in our religions that call for and nurture peaceful coexistence.
G. Valuating the role of Syrian women and actively calling to cease all forms of aggression and violence against them.
H. We condemn the crimes against the Syrian people, support the UN resolutions condemning this violence and reject all efforts to provoke sectarian violence.
The One-Man Show – By James Traub | Foreign Policy
Secretary of State John Kerry thinks he can singlehandedly solve the world’s most intractable problems. But will President Obama even let him try?
Is the opposition ready to rule?
By Nuha Shabaan and Michael Pizzi
SAS news: As the National Coalition prepares to establish a representative presence in Syrian territories controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), opposition and independent voices alike are expressing doubts about the interim government’s ability to manage the tumultuous security situation, and in particular, guard against the regime’s aerial attacks….
Concerns about the FSA’s ability to protect the interim government were raised over the weekend as regime forces killed hundreds of people in Jdeidat al-Fadl and Artouz in Outer Damascus province. Some activists are beginning to question not only the interim government’s appraisal of the security situation in Syria, but also the strategic competence of the FSA.
“The FSA was very wrong to enter the city of Jdeidat al-Fadl,” says Ayham al-Dimasqhi, a computer engineer who is currently living in Damascus. He believes that the FSA’s apparent presence in these towns provoked the regime to attack and massacre residents, who were defenseless because FSA soldiers had actually retreated prior to the attack. “The FSA cannot protect itself,” al-Dimashqi argues, adding that this does not bode well for its ability to protect an interim government.
Echoing al-Homsi and Farzat, al-Dimashqi cites the regime’s air raids, which he believes to be a consequence of the international community’s indifference toward Syrians, as the FSA’s primary weakness against the Syrian army.
“The reason behind their failure is the air attacks,” al-Dimashqi said…..
SAS news: Syria’s Local Coordination Councils issued an impassioned statement calling on the FSA to protect civilians Monday after a government assault over the weekend in Jdeidat al-Fadl and Artouz which left up to 566 dead in the southern approaches to the capital.
GHASSAN HITTO: We are certain that this regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people. GHASSAN HITTO: What we need from the US is surgical strikes of all the launching pads of Scud missiles. These locations are known to the intelligence community. That’s one. We need the establishment of a no-fly zone. We need safe passages to be established so we can deliver aid to the Syrian people more effectively and more regularly. Holly Williams
Removing Assad from power, he added, will be highly beneficial for Israel from a strategic point of view, weakening Hezbollah and Iran in the process. Dagan said that Israel should not be too concerned about the potential animosity a new regime in Damascus, saying that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries will do their utmost to ensure that the successor regime is moderate.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the conference that Israel can attack Iran – and will also be able to withstand the consequences of such an attack. “We cannot allow this regime to have the bomb,” Ashkenazi said.
Obama’s Syria Dilemma
Damned if he does; damned if he doesn’t.
BY AARON DAVID MILLER | APRIL 26, 2013 – FP
….. a red line has indeed been crossed — not only in terms of Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but also in the slippery slide toward American military involvement. What Obama needs to decide is whether such military action is designed to deter the use of chemical weapons or topple the Assad regime by giving the rebels the advantages they’ve long sought — weapons, a no-fly zone, or direct U.S. military strikes against regime targets.
There’s a lot that’s murky about Syria right now, but one thing is clear. For America, a messy situation is about to get a whole lot messier.
Interview with Dr. Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm: The Syrian Revolution and the Role of the Intellectual
Translated by Nader Atassi and Ziad Dallal
January 10th 2013
Doctor Sadiq Jalal al-Azm (born in 1934 in Damascus) is one of the most important Syrian intellectuals of the 20th and 21st centuries…..
The revolution is a Syrian settling of old accounts and an overdue payment of bills that were the result of Syrian silence and cowardice.
The popular Intifada in Syria seeks restoration of the republic through the toppling of the old hereditary regime that is worn-out in all its institutions, and to establish an alternative system of governance
Yes, I fear political Islam, before and after the fall of the regime.
In our culture and society there exists ample elements of authoritarianism, criminality, paternalism and vendetta, that make the reformulation of a despotic regime, in one form or another, a likely and formidable possibility, which calls for extreme caution and utter vigilance.
Syria’s “Wretched of the Earth” are participating in a revolution against a government, a party, and an authoritarian financial-military junta, and against a “nationalist” leadership of divine eternality.
If the revolution brings us somehow to the ballot boxes, then I will be a satisfied citizen.
Among the characteristics of secularism and democracy is that they provide a neutral ground for the meeting of the various religious doctrines and beliefs that are exclusionary by nature, allowing them to interact in the public space, the national arena, and the political landscape.