Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
SYP black market rate is at 53.0-53.5 this morning. But there are few dollars to be had at any price. The restrictions on buying foreign currency are many and onerous. Interest rates are now almost 10% on deposits. Every bank has to give the central bank a daily, detailed accounting of who they sold foreign exchange. The real value of the syp were there no exchange controls is impossible to tell. The head of the Goldsmith’s guild in Aleppo says the Syrian pound would be at 60 to a dollar, were people not buying Gold. Gold is the safest refuge for liquid capital at this time of anxiety and people have bought large quantities to protect against the weakening of the Syrian pound.
Rami Makhlouf, although announcing that he would get out of business and enter into charity work, is putting his shoulder to the wheel of stopping the devaluation of the Syrian Pound. In this article on Syria Steps, it is explained that he is counseling Syrians to sell dollars and buy Syrian Pounds to stop a foreign conspiracy to put pressure on the pound. One businessman asked if he was becoming the Central Bank.
الجيش السوري الاقتصادي ينصح المواطنين :
اشتروا الليرة وبيعوا الدولار فهو قادم على انهيار والليرة إلى الارتفاع
دمشق – سيرياستيبس :
عقد الجيش السوري الاقتصادي اجتماعا تقرر بنتيجته اطلاق حملة ضخمة لتحويل الاموال من العملات الصعبة الى الليرة السورية ، كما تقرر اطلاق حملة عقاب تجاري ضد مكاتب الصرافة ورجال الاعمال الذين يشاركون المتآمرين على ضرب الليرة السورية من الخارج والداخل وفي السعي لتحقيق ما لن يتحقق من اضعاف للعملة الوطنية .
وكانت مجموعة من رجال الاعمال الوطنيين الكبار ، وعلى رأسهم الاستاذ رامي مخلوف،قد قامت مع بداية الاحداث الاخيرة في سورية بتشكيل خلية تدخل مالي سريع لمساعدة الجهات الرسمية على ضبط الاسواق المالية بما فيها ضبط سعر صرف الليرة في مواجهة المتآمرين عليها ، لهذا اطلقت الصحافة السورية على هذه الخلية لقب ” الجيش السوري الاقتصادي ” وقد بادر أولئك الوطنيين الى ضخ الاموال في السوق المالية لمنع المتلاعبين من رفع سعر الدولار في مواجهة الليرة خاصة في فترات يكون فيها البنك المركزي خارج الدوام ( ايام العطل وفترات ما بعد الظهر ) .
وتقدر الجهات الاقتصادية المختصة قدرة افراد هذا الجيش الاقتصادي الوطني على التدخل ماليا لصالح الليرة بمليارات الدولارات.
وقد عقدت مجموعة ” الجيش الاقتصادي ” إجتماعها اليوم في التاسع والعشرين من حزيران 2011 في مكتب الاستاذ رامي مخلوف في دمشق وبحضوره .
ونقلت مصادر مقربة من المهندس مخلوف تأكيده ان خروجه من عالم الاعمال والتفرغ لاعمال الخير لا يعني ترك الساحة للعابثين والمتآمرين على الليرة السورية ، وإن كان شخصيا قد اعلن بشكل نهائي رفضه وتمنعه عن الدخول في اي عمل اقتصادي له طابع الاستفادة الشخصية فهذا لا يعني ترك السوق المالية لتجار السوء الذين يحاولون التلاعب بالليرة السورية و التي فضح من يزعمون انهم ثوار انفسهم بالدعوة الى ضربها، فضرب الليرة يعني ضرب لقمة عيش المواطنين فكيف يزعمون انهم يدافعون عن الناس وهم يقطعون ارزاقهم ؟….
Syria Pulls Armed Forces Back From Some Areas, The best article on the situation in Syria comes, again, from Anthony Shadid. A must read.
The Syrian military and the government’s security forces have largely withdrawn from one of the country’s largest cities as well as other areas across the country, residents and activists said Thursday, leaving territory to protesters whose demonstrations have grown larger and whose chants have taunted a leadership that once inspired the deepest fear there.
The military’s move in Hama, where a government crackdown a generation ago made its name synonymous with the brutality of the Assad family, has surprised even some activists and diplomats. They differ on the government’s strategy there: whether the departure points to a government attempt to avoid casualties and create another flashpoint in a restive country, or to an exhausted repressive apparatus stretched too thin.
But residents in Hama, the fourth largest city in Syria, have celebrated the departure as a victory that came after one of the worst bouts of bloodshed there in the nearly four-month uprising.
“Hama is a liberated city,” declared one activist who gave his name as Hainin.
Residents and activists say the military and security forces have also withdrawn from Albu Kamal, near the Iraqi border, and some suburbs of the capital Damascus. In Deir al-Zour, a large city in the east, the military has remained on the outskirts, although security forces are said to still be operating inside the city.
Government forces have withdrawn from locales before – namely Banias on the Mediterranean coast and Dara’a in the south – only to return even more relentlessly. But the scale of the departure and the size of Hama seem to set the experience there apart.
“I don’t think it’s a tactic,” said Wissam Tarif, executive director of Insan, a Syrian human rights group. “It’s exhaustion, a lack of resources and a lack of finances.”
Even some activists have described a stalemate between the government and a revolt that represents the greatest challenge to the 11-year rule of President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited power from his father, Hafez, absolute ruler of Syria for 30 years.
But the events in Hama underscore new dynamics that have emerged lately, as neither government nor protesters can resolve the crisis on their terms. An opposition meeting Monday, broadcast in part by Syrian television, called for an end to Mr. Assad’s monopoly on power, committees behind the street protests are becoming better organized and a weak economy once instrumental to the government’s vision continues to stagger.
“I feel like we’re in a stalemate, and while the stalemate is not pretty – in fact, it’s ugly – it only works in the opposition’s favor,” said an Obama administration official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Time is on the opposition’s side.”
Hama is a city whose name remains seared in the memory of many Syrians. In the culmination of a battle between the government and an armed Islamic opposition, the military stormed Hama in 1982, killing at least 10,000 and perhaps far more. Some residents said Hama’s place in history has made the state more reluctant to crack down.
“We learned from our mistakes,” said a teacher in Hama, who gave his name as Abu Omar. Like many interviewed there, he agreed to speak only on condition of partial anonymity. “To make a revolution halfway,” he added, “is to dig our own tombs.”
On June 3, government forces and protesters clashed in the city, which runs along a strategic highway linking Damascus, Homs and Aleppo. By activists’ count, as many as 73 people in Hama were killed, though Syrian officials said their security forces also suffered casualties. Syrian officials said an agreement was reached afterward that protests would be permitted, as long as they remained peaceful and no property was damaged. Some residents confirmed that an agreement was indeed concluded earlier this month.
Since then, some said even traffic police have withdrawn.
“The security and the army are completely absent,” said a resident who gave his name as Abu Abdo. “They are not harassing us at all, neither before nor during the daily rallies which have been gathering day and night. There are no patrols. Life is normal.”
In bigger numbers, protesters have gathered at night in Hama’s Aasi Square, which they said they had renamed Freedom Square. Activists said the city’s mayor went down to address the crowds there Wednesday night. When he asked what their demands were, one activist recalled that protesters replied, “The overthrow of the regime.”
The mayor soon left, they said.
Other protesters there have taunted other cities and the leadership. “Oh youth of Damascus,” went one chant, “we’re in Hama, and we’ve toppled the regime.”
In an echo of the early days of the Egyptian revolution, when a crumbling authoritarian order inspired a new sense of citizenship, some activists say residents have taken to sweeping streets in front of their homes and shops, volunteers have kept the main squares clean and drivers have adhered to traffic rules in the absence of police.
Syrian officials downplayed the idea that the departure of government forces suggested a void in their authority. Since the beginning of the uprising, the government has said much of the violence has occurred in clashes with armed opponents and, indeed, American officials have corroborated the existence of insurgents in some locales in Syria.
“Our policy has been that if the demonstrators are peaceful, if they do not wreak havoc or destroy public property, no security will harass them,” Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to Washington, said in an interview. “The universal orders are not to harass demonstrators as long as those demonstrators are peaceful.”
Mr. Moustapha estimated that nine out of 10 protests began and ended peacefully.
The American official suggested that the violence was a response to government repression. When its forces withdraw, the official said, the situation remains peaceful.
“That’s what Hama has demonstrated,” the official said.
The departure could also suggest at least some recognition on the part of the government that a brutal crackdown cannot succeed. In Deir al-Zour and Albu Kamal, officials removed statues of Mr. Assad’s father, in what seemed an acknowledgement that they were not worth the bloodshed that would be required to save them from protesters.
“Everyone is stuck, at this point,” said Mr. Tarif, the human rights advocate. “The regime is struck, the protesters are stuck and the opposition is stuck.”
Reuters: Assad acknowledges threat of economic collapse
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
“The regime is not thinking far ahead,” he said. (“a leading figure in the hotel trade” in Syria) “They are thinking how to live through next Friday, which means Assad cannot reduce the subsidies or cut salaries because it will annoy more people. They think they can deal with economic collapse when it happens.” “For now they have no sense of economic strategy.”
The central bank had indicated two months ago that it would not allow the exchange rate to exceed the equivalent of 50 pounds to dollar but that the ceiling had been breached,” said the banker in Damascus, who declined to be named. “No intervention can compensate for the fundamental lack of a political solution.”
The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project “Costs of War” by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. (www.costsofwar.org)
In the 10 years since U.S. troops went into Afghanistan to root out the al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11, 2001, attacks, spending on the conflicts totaled $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.
Those numbers will continue to soar when considering often overlooked costs such as long-term obligations to wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012 through 2020. The estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments coming due and many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted, according to the study.
In human terms, 224,000 to 258,000 people have died directly from warfare, including 125,000 civilians in Iraq. Many more have died indirectly, from the loss of clean drinking water, healthcare, and nutrition. An additional 365,000 have been wounded and 7.8 million people — equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky — have been displaced.
(Reuters) – Syrian opposition tells Russia: make Assad resign
Exiled Syrian opposition figures urged Russia on Tuesday to persuade Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to resign, warning that Moscow risked being left behind by history unless it withdrew its support for the leader.
Report on the Conference (Muther Khaddam) The most complete (to date) report on the conference. Munther explains some of the problems encountered during the conference.
منذر خدام – مجريات وثائق المؤتمر التشاوي لبعض المستقلين والمعارضين غير الحزبيين المنعقد في دمشق بتا27/6/2011
Syrian opposition in rift over Damascus meeting
BEIRUT | AFP – June 28, 2011
Anti-regime activists behind street protests in Syria on Tuesday criticised opposition figures who held an unprecedented meeting in Damascus at which they called for a peaceful uprising.
“As a matter of principle, the Coordination Committees of the Syrian Revolution condemn any meeting or congress held under the banner of the regime,” they said on their Facebook page, an engine of the revolt.
“Revolutionaries must take dozens of security and dissuasive measures before they can hold such a meeting, so as to avoid being jailed, tortured or eliminated,” they said in a statement.
“It’s only natural that questions are raised by this meeting which claims to come from the Syrian street when the Syrian regime gave its protection and media coverage, counting on it to build a civilised and legitimate image,” they said.
“Nobody should have given a drop of legitimacy to the regime at the expense of the blood of our martyrs and the suffering of the detained,” the statement read. “The Committees renew their commitment to the Syrian street.”
About 160 dissidents, several of whom have spent years in jail as political prisoners, vowed at Monday’s meeting to press ahead with a peaceful uprising, as President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime invited the opposition to talks.
The opposition figures, all independent of any party affiliation, met in a Damascus hotel.
In the face of deadly unrest that has pitted pro-democracy protesters against security forces since mid-March, the authorities on the same day invited the opposition to a July 10 meeting to discuss key changes to the constitution.
Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador, to Syrian-American Community, June 29, 2011
To the Syrian-American Community:
I hope this letter finds you and your families in good health and spirits. As you are all well aware, Syria for the past four months has been undergoing unprecedented change, and will continue to do so in the months ahead.
Some of the changes in place have included the lifting of the decades-old State of Emergency law; abolishing the State Security Court; establishing a Demonstrations Act, that regulates and protects the peaceful demonstrations of citizens, similar to laws in Europe and the US (For example, in the city of Hama, people have been demonstrating in public places for two weeks without any incident, because they expressed their political viewpoints peacefully); and the drafting of several new laws presently up for national debate, including a free elections law and free media law. This is only the beginning.
The Syrian government remains staunchly committed to instituting much-needed reforms and promoting peaceful dialogue among all people in Syria in order to create a more democratic and prosperous nation. There is no other way forward.
The recent conference in Damascus where members of the opposition convened is another example of the trajectory towards progress. At the same time of such dialogue occurring, the President is meeting on a daily basis with representatives of all major cities and towns in Syria to hear from them regarding their concerns.
As Syrian-Americans, you, too, can contribute to moving the process of reform and dialogue forward. One way would be to contact your representatives in Congress and remind them that instead of endorsing negative and counterproductive measures, the only way for Syria to move forward while avoiding instability is to support the efforts for dialogue and reform underway.
By working together, we can all contribute to the road ahead in Syria.
Sincerely, Imad Moustapha, Ph.D., Ambassador of Syria to the United States
Assad deserves a swift trip to The Hague
By Madeleine Albright and Marwan Muasher
June 28, 2011, Financial Times
It is time for the international community to take a stand against Syria’s use of violence against its citizens. On Monday the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Muammer Gaddafi and two of his closest lieutenants for alleged crimes against humanity. The United Nations Security Council should now direct the ICC to investigate whether Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity. The charge: using lethal violence to repress peaceful demonstrations in support of democratic rule. The Arab League should also assume the same principled position on Syria that it took on Libya…..
The international community cannot, nor should it, seek to dictate the fate of any country. We do, however, have a responsibility to support the observation of global norms in every country. Initiating an ICC investigation in Syria now would create a powerful incentive for Mr Assad to choose reform over further repression. Such a choice would be good for the people of Syria, and for the case of democracy and law throughout the region.
….A Homeland Tent was held in Hasaka province, in northeastern Syria, with the participation of various popular and social figures to stress national unity and support to comprehensive reform.
“The Tent meeting is a unique national case that highlights the people’s awareness of the big conspiracy hatched against them,” said Mohammad al-Brak al-Mahshoush, a senior sheikh of al-Jabbour tribe.
A similar tent was organized in Buraq village in Daraa province at which sheikhs and members of senior clans in the area said expressed readiness to do all their best to preserve the unity and solidity of the Syrian national fabric against all foreign conspiracies aimed at destabilizing Syria and interfering in its internal affairs.
“This tent reflects full support to the reform program,” said Father Joseph Badawi, Priest of al-Masmieh village congregation for the Roman Catholic Church.
“The unity characterizing the Syrian people will foil all the plots planned against Syria,” said Khalid al-Hussein al-Hilal, senior figure of al-Buraq village.
Aleppo countryside also witnessed marches of thousands in Efrin area who stressed commitment to standing side by side in the face of the conspiracies and misleading media campaigns targeting Syria.
A glimpse of hope appears as national dialogue hailed in Syria – China News Service
…In another indication, the U.S. is still giving a room for diplomatic solution in Syria, a U.S. congressman stated Tuesday that President Assad is serious about making changes in his country.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, told reporters following a meeting with al-Assad that he had found a “strong desire to make a substantial change… People want President Assad to carry out reforms.”
He called for the cancellation of recent EU sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime that include assets freeze and travel ban.
Syrian activists fight digital battle
By Abigail Fielding-Smith in Guvecci
In a cottage in the Turkish village of Guvecci, next to the Syrian border, a handful of Syrian activists who fled a military attack a few days ago close their laptops and debate what to do next.
“We can’t do anything,” says one, frustrated. “It’s not important, our work here.”
Until tanks rolled into the border village of Khirbet al-Jouz, the activists ran a media portal nearby, powering their laptops with solar panels stolen from a government building and accessing faster, more reliable Turkish 3G networks to upload videos documenting the protests, defections and crackdown in the restive north-west and elsewhere in Syria.
Now that the government has established sufficient military control in the province to invite back international media, the citizen journalist footage that sought to counter the government’s narrative of events has almost completely stopped.
“We have some friends on the border, but there is no one taking videos,” says another activist.
The loss of the Khirbet al-Jouz hub was a setback in the deadly cat-and-mouse game between activists and the authorities, but the struggle is far from over, say activists.
The possibilities of new media have enabled them to circumvent some of the heavy-handed instruments of the government’s crackdown on the unrest. With each creative evasion however, the regime usually finds a way of responding.
When protests began in March, activists were unable to meet to discuss strategy nor were they able to use telephones, which are assumed to be tapped. But they found a way to communicate routinely over Skype and used proxy servers to access Facebook so that their IP addresses would not be traced. When the international media were banned from the country, activists began filming and uploading footage themselves.
But as the authorities realised that footage was getting out, they began to cut off internet in areas where military operations were taking place to quell the protests.
In Deraa, the southern province near the border with Jordan where Syria’s uprising broke out, activists documented the military crackdown and sent out their material by using a Jordanian mobile network.
“I was in the forest [near the Jordanian border] for 15 days, sleeping in caves,” recalls one activist from Deraa. He said he would give his laptop to friends who would take it to an electricity source and charge it for him.
“I was moving like a ghost,” he said.
The authorities appear to be aware of the activists’ tactics. A document that opposition figures abroad say was leaked from the ministry of telecommunications claims the security committee at the ministry had discussed the need to counter the mobile telephone coverage coming from neighbouring countries and “conduct reverse procedures”.
The document could not be independently verified.
Activists say internet connections have slowed down significantly in recent weeks, and sometimes high-speed digital subscriber line connections have been shut off altogether, making talking on Skype almost impossible.
But Will Davies of the campaigning group Avaaz, which disseminates citizen journalists’ footage, said the internet slowdown has not affected the number of films they are being sent, which average between 15 to 20 a day.
“It can only be that our guys are getting more canny – they’re getting used to the on and off situation, they’re very quick to act as soon as they can get online,” said Mr Davies. He speculated that this could also be because there were simply more people motivated to take the risks involved to send out footage.
In Guvecci, the activist with the laptop decided to sneak back in to Syria, and continue trying to film the suppression of the protests, in spite of the heightened risks.
“We’re not afraid at all,” he said.
Another activist said: “Every day is more difficult than the last. But we don’t stop, God help us.”
Iran and Syria: Next Steps
Featuring Robert Satloff
June 23, 2011
U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs
While the U.S. military is engaged in an important humanitarian mission in Libya, the Middle East’s real strategic drama is being played out in Syria. …. At stake is more than the survival of a regime that has been a consistent source of tension, threat, and challenge to U.S. interests on numerous fronts for nearly all of the Asad family’s decades of control—though that too is a key aspect of U.S. concern for the fate of the country. Rather, at stake is the opportunity to strike a painful, perhaps decisive blow to the axis of anti-peace, anti-Western, anti-American regimes that is headquartered in Tehran, runs through Damascus, then on to Beirut and Gaza, and has aspirations to extend its reach to Baghdad, the Gulf, and beyond….
DJ US Treasury Sanctions Syria Security Forces, Iran Police For Abuses, 2011-06-29
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The Obama administration Wednesday sanctioned Iran’s national police and Syrian security forces for human rights abuses inside Syria.
The move comes as Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues a violent crackdown against dissenters. “Today’s action builds on the administration’s efforts to pressure Assad and his regime to end the use of wanton violence and begin transitioning to a system that ensures the universal rights of the Syrian people,” Treasury’s Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism David Cohen said in a statement. The Treasury Department announced sanctions against the Syria Political Security Directorate, one of four major branches of the country’s security services, and the head of Syrian Air Force Intelligence.
Aron Lund: The Ghosts of Hama: This excellent report by Sweden’s leading Syrianist provides a description of the situation in Syria today as compared to the MB uprising thirty years ago. Comparing the two Syrian revolutions reveals both similarities and differences, and points to the major risks that Syria faces. The whole report can be downloaded on http://silc.se/?p=874.
No elite defections
Syria, therefore, stands out as the only Arab state hit by serious protests which hasn’t yet experienced any serious instances of high-level defection. This would appear to mean that regime cohesion and internal control has remained high, and that government insiders have not yet lost faith in, or fear of, the system’s ability to recover. From the inside, then, Bashar (or at least his system) must still look like the only thing on offer. The reason may be that the Syrian state is still in better shape than it looks from the outside, or the internal checks and balances peculiar to this regime (the Alawi factor), or that the core leadership has taken precautions to prevent defections (internal surveillance, threats, bribes, hostage-taking, etc). Some combination of all three appears most likely….
….the Sunni-majority army proved eminently capable of repressing the MB in the 1980s, without fracturing along religious lines. Even so, sectarian dissent in the army remains a possibility which must worry the regime – hence the opposition’s intense focus on the issue….
the lack of central organization also makes it difficult for the protests to advance beyond street-level demonstrations or riots, to more sophisticated forms of political action. It makes it virtually impossible to conduct negotiations with the regime or elements of it, since there are no recognized spokesmen, no single list of opposition grievances, and no unified organization able to control the ebb and flow of protest. Even if the regime wanted to open general negotiations, which is unlikely, there’s really no one to talk to. For a more detailed look on the groups that make up the Syrian opposition, see Aron Lund, ’Weakening regime, weaker opposition’, Near East Quarterly, Issue IV, May 2011,
Internal-external dynamics in the opposition
One should, at this point, note the internal-external dynamic of the Syrian opposition. The Baathist dictatorship has forced many Syrian opposition groups abroad, where they base themselves in the refugee community. Others are entirely products of the diaspora, while some straddle both worlds. Opposition projects and debates tend to involve both communities, but imperfectly so, since the opportunities for contact are limited.
While demonstrations inside Syria now appear to take place with little input from the traditional opposition, and is led by non-organized Syrian youth, exiled groups have been making headlines in the Western and Arab press by launching new political platforms, conferences and demands. The impression, whether intended or not, is that these groups convey the demands of the demonstrators; perhaps they do, but this should not be conflated with actual leadership. The internal opposition, by contrast, whatever its role may be in organizing street-level protests, has not so far been able to effectively meet and produce significant joint statements, due to the security situation. The result is that internal opposition voices aren’t heard to the same extent as those of exiled representatives.
This author’s impression is that activists in the Syrian diaspora community tend to be distinctly more hardline and uncompromising than opposition figures inside Syria, who generally advocate a more cautious long-term strategy (although there are of course numerous exceptions to the rule). Various explanations could be advanced for this: On the one hand, the ‘internals’ may be more in touch with events on the ground, have more at stake, and are more wary of risks to stability. On the other hand, the ‘exiles’ are unconstrained by fears for their security, and may simply be voicing opinions that the ‘internals’ can not. In any case, these differences may well have been surpassed by the present revolutionary upheval, which changes the game entirely.30
The secular Arab opposition
The organized Syrian opposition was in much better shape in the late 1970s than it is today…..
Kurdish groups have always been at some distance from the Arab-majority organizations that dominate Syrian opposition politics. In many cases, dislike has been mutual: Arab nationalist organizations have suspected the Kurds of separatism and ties to foreign powers, and Kurdish nationalists have in turn resented what they perceive as Arab chauvinism. Since the Damascus Spring (2000-2001), and in particular since the Qamishli riots (2004), Kurdish groups have been working more closely with the Arab mainstream of the opposition. Seven Kurdish parties, out of about 15, signed the Damascus Declaration in 2005.
During the 2011 uprising, the Kurdish parts of Syria have been noticeably quiet, even if parts of the Kurdish diaspora are very militant in drumming up foreign pressure. The regime has made contact with Kurdish opposition parties, and tried to appease the Kurds through long-overdue attention to their grievances, eg. by granting citizenship to Kurds stripped of their Syrian nationality in 1962 and allowing Newroz celebrations. This seems to have worked to some extent. Demonstrations in the Kurdish regions have so far been largely peaceful and orderly, and the regime seems careful not to provoke violence, wary of the Kurdish movement’s disproportionate street power. Even so, after 50 years of racist repression, the Baath Party is intensely unpopular among ordinary Kurds, and there is a strong potential for more serious unrest among the Kurdish minority.36 In June, an important Kurdish political coalition is reported to have refused an invitation to meet with Bashar el-Assad, bowing to popular pressure.37
It is important to note that the role of the Kurds matters not only because of their own home areas in the north and north-east. Should the Kurds join the uprising en masse, this could also spark protests in parts of Aleppo or Damascus, considering the strong Kurdish presence there.. But there are few dollars to be had at any price……
The Islamist opposition
Islamist ideology enjoys stronger street-level support today in Syria, than it did during the 1970s. Religious conservative sentiment has mushroomed since the 1990s, but, on the other hand, Islamist groups are not as well organized politically as they were in the 1970s. Then, the Muslim Brotherhood was well implanted in the country, despite repression and internal splits.
In 2011, the MB has been out of the picture for nearly three decades. It still commands significant sentimental and moral support among religious Sunnis, and draws a disproportionate share of Western attention, but it has essentially been an exiled movement for a full generation. Even though the MB, by its own admission, has a few sleeper-cell style formations left in Syria, it hasn’t been able to replenish its ranks effectively for three decades. ….
What about a coup d’état?
The Syrian military was boiling with political intrigue until the Baathist takeover in 1963, and remained an arena for intra-Baathist struggle until 1970. By the time of the Ahdath, some political groups still retained clandestine support in the armed forces, as demonstrated by a failed MB coup plot within the Air Force in 1982.
This is no longer the case. By 2011, the officer corps has been under firm party control for almost 50 years, and watched over by the Assad family for more than 40 years. It is dominated by a socially homogenous Alawite Baathist camaraderie. While political opinions may perhaps differ among members, as a group, they have prospered under this regime and are fearful of its overthrow. Even if political strains may cause dissent or even mutinies, including among leading Alawite officials and other top commanders, it’s wholly improbable that any regime outsider could mount a coup…..