Was Insufficient Economic Growth A Critical Factor? – A SyriaComment Article From 2006 By Ehsani

This morning, Mitt Romney picked Representative Paul Ryan as his running-mate as the Republican party attempts to win back the White House from President Obama.

This choice is noteworthy because it will make the economy and the country’s fiscal challenges the focal point of this election. Mr Ryan is the current Budget Committee Chairman. The upcoming election is unlikely to be about Mr. Obama’s color or Mr. Romney’s religious beliefs.

Why is this important or relevant?

As many readers know, I have been highlighting the importance of economics for years when it comes to Syria. Following the previous note entitled “Could Syria’s Current Predicament Have Been Avoided Over A Decade Ago?”, a number of readers thought that the post was too simplistic. Surely, one cannot blame the current crisis on the failure to allow the Damascus Spring to flourish during 2001.

It is extremely difficult to agree on the main factor that led to the Syrian crisis. Over the past 17 months, several reasons have been offered. The list includes:

-Sunni-Shia (Alawi) sectarian divide
-Syria’s position with respect to Iran.
-Breaking the resistance.
-Domestic Corruption.
-The heavy handedness of the security apparatus.
-Lack of economic opportunities for vast majority of the populace.

The above list is by no means complete of course. As the regular readers of this forum recall however, I have long maintained that issues relating to the lack of economic growth constitute the dominant factors behind not only the Syrian uprising but those in the region as a whole.

Insufficient economic growth coupled with widespread corruption (I consider both related) is a lethal combination. In such an environment, the cake that is made up of yearly income/production is too small to be shared by the majority of the population.  Without expanding the size of the cake, the ranks of the unemployed will swell and incomes will stagnate and fall in real terms. Incomes will not be able to keep up with both inflation and a fast growing population.  This important topic was addressed in a post six years ago this month.

Back in August of 2006, I wrote a “Personal Memo” :

The key points discussed in the note are:

“Syria is made up of two separate countries: Syria 1 which contains close to one million people and Syria 2 which contains the remaining 19 million.

Syria 1 is made up of the affluent, highly connected industrialists, merchants and very high Government officials. Given the high standard of living of this group, one would expect them to support the regime and the current status quo. While most may admit that that progress has been slow, they are quick to point that given the circumstances, the country is on the right track. They highlight their latest cell phones, home and office Internet connections as well as their brand new cars as irrefutable signs of the economic and social advances that the country has been experiencing as of late. Seen from their prism, the Syrian economy seems prosperous judging by the superb outdoor dinners, number of servants, lovely homes, fancy cars, latest cell phones, rising land values, and monopolistic businesses.

Life could not be more different for the 19 million people of Syria 2.    It is clear that this silent majority has suffered the brunt of this grave economic mismanagement. This is evident in this group’s salary levels. If they were lucky enough to have jobs, salaries of this group is likely to be around Syp 10,000 ($200) per month. Their average family size is 6-7 (four to five children).

The vast majority of the population is likely to suffer even further going forward. Though inconceivable, their children may fare even worse than their horrific $6 payday. The population explosion has resulted in scores of unemployed men walking its major cities. Those residing in the rural part of the country have fared even worse. Their decision to locate to the big cities has made things even worse. It is my conviction that this regime cannot reform fast enough to arrest the decline in its economy and the standards of living of its citizens.”

To be fair, the above challenges are not unique to Syria. The demographic challenge covers the whole region.   The oil producing region of the Middle East is blessed with staggering earnings from energy production and exports. This is likely to delay their day of reckoning. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reportedly spent an extra $65 billion last year to fend off any hints of domestic discontent. The none-oil producing countries of the region simply don’t have anywhere near such financial resources to do the same. For countries like Egypt, Yemen and Syria to have a chance, they need to engineer China-like economic growth rates in order to survive.  Without such growth, their young populations will keep revolting for years to come.

I will conclude with a another short article that I wrote back in the fall of 2010 following the events of Tahrir Square and prior to the start of the Syrian uprising:

“In the twenty-five years between 1980 and 2005, Yemen’s total fertility (children per women) averaged 7.49. Iraq’s was 5.67. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt averaged 5.42, 5.19, and 4.25 respectively. In contrast, the United States and Western Europe averaged 1.96 and 1.56. Over the same period, real economic growth in the Arab world was largely stagnant. When populations double every twenty-five years and real incomes stay constant, future revolutions are baked in the cake.

Economic reforms like those offered by the political establishment lack the speed or vigor to match the droves of young men waiting to enter the region’s labor force. The region’s official unemployment rates mask the severity of the problem. Close to 40 percent of the population is under the age of fourteen and they will soon join the labor force. Furthermore, women’s labor participation rates are in the teens, the lowest in the world. This is also likely to increase. Consequently, real economic growth in the region must match Chinese levels—and fast. With no vibrant industrial policy, insufficient energy and renewable water resources, an outmoded education system, and median house price-to-income ratios close to ten (the United States is at three), Arab countries are riding their Titanics straight into their respective icebergs. Tunisia and Egypt are only the beginning. Yes, the Arab world could do with less corruption and more democracy and freedom, but none of this is likely to matter. The region needs to create between eighty and ninety million jobs over the next twenty years. This is 12,500 jobs a day.

Expect the Tahrir Square of every Arab capital to occupy our evening news for years to come.”

Comments (483)


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451. zoo said:

After Manaf Tlass, Ryad Hijab is in “debriefing” mode.
Any planned trip to Saudi Arabia to complete the “purification”?

Hijab: Assad’s grip ‘crumbling,’ controls only 30% of Syria

Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN — Reuters
Published Tuesday, Aug. 14 2012, 8:26 AM EDT

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/assads-grip-crumbling-controls-only-30-of-syria-former-pm-says/article4479985/

“I tell you out of my experience and the position I occupied that the regime is collapsing, morally, materially and economically. Militarily it is crumbling as it no longer occupies more than 30 percent of Syrian territory,” he said.

Mr. Hijab did not elaborate on that assertion, and took no questions from reporters.
..
“Oh men of the Free Syrian Army, unify your ranks as all hopes hang on you, you are the best fighters of this world,” said Mr. Hijab, who took no questions from reporters.

Syrian authorities said they had dismissed Mr. Hijab before he fled, but he told the news conference in Amman that he resigned and defected to the opposition, referring to the Assad government as an “enemy of God”.

“It is my duty to wash my hands of this corrupt regime,” he said.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:00 am

 

452. Syrialover said:

Irritated (#428),

I am interested to see your thinking. And I recognize the picture you paint of Syria and your viewpoint. Including the Assadist view of being “forced” to be rigid and tough because of the outside world. I have relatives and friends who say the same.

Tara is so right when she talks about the outer and inner face.

And many of of the positive things you say and others always observe about Syria are about the wonderful Syrian PEOPLE, not their illegitimate regime. They have deserved much better.

Anyone who experienced the Syrian security services or “legal system”, served in the army etc had a very, very different view of things from you. They knew and feared the vicious underbelly.

Even if, say, the regime was not into terror (and flick aside Hama, Tadmor and countless other murders by the state), the fact that 62% of Syria’s business was in the hands of an Assad cousin is a clue to the extent that Syrians were excluded from opportunities in their own country.

Ehsani in the main post paints a lucid picture when he describes a Syria made up of two separate countries: Syria 1 which contains close to one million people and Syria 2 which contains the remaining 19 million.

The Dardari economy plan had little real impact because the system was so dysfunctional, the situation so badly deteriorated. Read Ehsani for the miserable facts.

What he doesn’t spell out, but others have is that Syria’s disastrous population growth is rooted in the deliberate brake the Assads put on significant social and economic development.

But the main point and bottom line is, what the hell entitled and qualified the Assads to run the country as their own personal territory for 42 years? There was by definition no mechanisms in that system for any change or neogtiation, never was and never could be – and anyone who imagined otherwise has now had a grim wake-up call.

PS Incidentally, I do not expect the urban middle class to rush out and join the revolution. They just want it over, to continue the lives they have build up the best way they could in the system they were living in. For them, the nightmare is the prospect of losing that and being forced to start over in the unknown.

It is a tragedy and injustice for them that everything is imploding with this crisis, but it was always inevitable, the seeds planted with the day the Assads took power.

But the proper functioning of a future Syria under a legitimate government lies heavily in their hands.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:02 am

 

453. VISITOR said:

429 SOD,

Now, please excuse me because you are getting completely worked up, illogical and out of line.

First, you are not here to judge my vocabulary and use of idioms as long as I make it clear what I mean. So, you take it at face value and try not to inject your readings into it, a very derailing way to defeat any discussion. I do not need to look up anything as the context of what I wrote is very clear to the novice.

Second, who are you to decide who is a bigot and who is not? And if you do not mind do not go that far and invoke the nonsense mantra of KKK at such men. You’re insulting your intelligence before anyone else’s.

Third, your understanding of the term assassieyen and its etymology is completely false. The original IS the Arabic word, Hashashin for drugs and the derived English word IS Assassin. In fact, there was no such English term until the English became aware with the Arabic Hashashin. All the Arabic writers use the Arabic term in their writings and they never use Assassin except in reference to an English or western manuscript. And your lack of understanding of such simple fact very much destroys all of your argument. And yes the Hashashin were a political movement, first and foremost, and as such, there would be no denigrating effect in the use of such term describing them or any other group subscribing to their methods.

And again, now you come out straight and deny altogether al-Ghazali as being irrelevant to the subject while in fact it goes to the very heart of it. But that is expected, for as I said before you dare not venture into criticizing men such as al-Ghazali because it defeats your very own purpose. So again, until you can come up with a counter argument to al-Ghazali’s treatise consider the subject closed.

Finally, as I said, I am open to listen to all the arguments including Pipes, Ibn Taymiya, what the Wahabis say and many others. If you have any bigotry against these men who contributed to our knowledge far more than discussing anything with a closed-minded person, then please refrain from further correspondence on this subject until you’re able to open a closed mind. I said it many times: my time is precious.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:03 am

 

454. Uzair8 said:

438. Zoo said:

“Guerilla tactics” VS “Nibbling tactics”

‘Syrian army follows gradual nibbling tactic in its showdown in Aleppo’

So the Rats finally reveal themselves?

The rebels already passed the Kitten test.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:08 am

 

455. irritated said:

439. Tara

That is not my experience in Syria.
I have never seen in Syria the extreme poverty and filth I have seen in Egypt. I haven’t seen that they were living a “miserable and humiliating life”. Go and visit the Palestinian refugee camps on Lebanon to see what is a miserable and humiliating life. Neither have I seen the double face that I have seen in Jordana dn KSA. Compared to the noisy, outspoken and arrogant Lebanese, Syrian are usually low key, discreet, resilient, tolerant and humble.

Yes, people avoid talking politics but that climate of suspicion has gradually disappeared in the last few years. Obviously you’ve not be there for a long time. I have attended several plays in Damascus that were highly critical of the police regime and they were not stopped. By the way in Jordan, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, people avoid discussing politics for fear of reprisals. In addition restrictions in private lives are much stronger in these countries that it has even been in Syria.
Of course, it is reassuring for you to dramatize and paint the life of the Syrians as a nightmare so you can bash the regime , but unfortunately that’s not what I and many others experienced in Syria.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:18 am

 

456. irritated said:

Visitor

I said it many times: my time is precious.

Of course, it’s time consuming to look for spectacular rumors and theatrical “predictions” to spread.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:27 am

 

457. Tara said:

Irritated,

“Of course, it is reassuring for you to dramatize and paint the life of the Syrians as a nightmare so you can bash the regime”

I do not need to dramatize and falsely paint you a picture of any sort. This is not my style. I am sorry you do not sense honesty…

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August 14th, 2012, 10:29 am

 

458. Juergen said:

AJE:

Riyad Hijab, the former Syrian prime minister who defected to Jordan, has made his first statement to the press.

Speaking on Tuesday from Amman, the most senior-level defector of Bashar al-Assad’s government, said the Damascus leadership was “decaying morally and deteriorating militarily”.

Calling the government an “enemy of God”, Hijab said his recent defection was of his own volition and that he was not dismissed from his post, as reported by Syrian authorities.

The defected official, saying the government only controlled about 30 per cent of the nation, went on to ask the Syrian military to follow the lead of their Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts.

Hijab also invited the opposition abroad to “unite and unify the ranks. To remain united on the same goal”.

Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said Hijab, a Sunni with Baathist connections, “could be an ideal candidate if there is going to be a compromise”, who could serve as a “conciliatory figure who can reach out to the Baathists”.

However, Hijab said “I confirm that I do not intend to take on any office, presently or in the future”.

The location of today’s statement was also of importance, said our correspondent.

Jordan, fearing the conflict spilling into their territory, had “for the past 16 months, had tried as much as it could, to remain neutral”, but the acceptance of Hijab’s defection showed a change in the Hashemite Kingdom’s stance, said Amin.

At the close of the press conference, Hijab went on to thank Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia for their support of the opposition movement.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:46 am

 

459. VISITOR said:

446 IRRITATED,

“Of course, it’s time consuming to look for spectacular rumors and theatrical “predictions” to spread.

Your logic is so easy to bust since your mind so IRRITABLY illogical

It is the other way around. It is time consuming to bring in authentic information.

You know better. You and Ann have no problem flooding the board with all sorts of nonsense.

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August 14th, 2012, 10:51 am

 

460. ghufran said:

رفعت وزارة الخزانة الاميركية العقوبات التي كانت فرضتها على شخصيات سورية ومنها رئيس الحكومة السوري المنشق رياض حجاب.

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August 14th, 2012, 12:38 pm

 

461. jna said:

435. DAWOUDsaid:
This sniper was arrested in Damascus, where he admitted sniping Syrian innocents in Douma.

Confessions of captured persons in these situations are always suspect of being under duress such as fear of being killed. And FSA has a history of killing the captured.

In Halab, activists reported seeing Nasrillat’s snipers/shabiha.

Four days ago the U.S. State Department gave a briefing on U.S. imposed sanctions on Hezbollah for supporting Assad. Under questioning they could not assert any direct combat role (such as sniping) by Hezbollah in Syria. Of course the opposition would like us to believe Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, forces are directly fighting in Syria as this strengthens to argument for NATO, whatever, direct military intervention.
http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/35496-state-department-briefing-on-the-designation-of-hezbollah-for-supporting-the-syrian-regime.html

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August 14th, 2012, 12:42 pm

 

462. ghufran said:

أعلن مدير ناحية الدرباسية المقدم حسن بدوي ” انشقاقه عن النظام السوري ” بسبب “الممارسات القمعية التي يقوم بها ضد الشعب السوري” ، على حد قوله.
و ظهر بدوي في تسجيل مصور نشر على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي إلى جانب زوجته ” ليلى كريدي” التي تشغل منصب مفتش الأول لدى الجهاز المركزي للرقابة المالية.
يذكر أنها المرة الأولى التي تظهر فيها امرأة إلى جانب زوجها في تسجيل مصور لتعلن انشقاقها
so, what is the end game? where is the body that is supposed to replace the current government,what will happen to those army and security officers that are until now being targeted by armed rebels?
I think the only plan available by the armed rebels and their backers is more blood shed until Syria is “liberated” from those who do not pass the patriotism test of militant rebels. Political opposition is helpless and as frustrated as everybody else, defection is likely to increase without any hope on the horizon for a solution to this bloody mess.

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August 14th, 2012, 12:49 pm

 

463. Tara said:

Al-Watan newspaper must issue an apology, and fire the author or defend it’s position in case there was a set up.  This story should not go unnoticed. 

Moscow denies Saudi report
The Russian foreign ministry has denied that its deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov gave an interview to a Saudi paper saying Basher al-Assad’s brother lost both his legs in last month’s Damascus blast.

The report in al-Watan (by Omar al-Zubaidi, in Arabic) also quoted Bogdanov as saying that the Syrian president was ready to step down.

From Reuters:

“Mikhail Bogdanov gave no interview to the Saudi newspaper al-Watan,” [state news agency] RIA cited an unnamed source in the foreign ministry’s press department as saying.

It said Bogdanov had not given an interview to the paper by phone or in person.

Watan, which said it spoke to Bogdanov in a phone interview, reported him as saying that Assad had agreed to step down, but it gave no further details …

The newspaper did not say when the interview took place and the only direct quotes it attributed to Bogdanov were on the subject of Russia’s position on the crisis.

The Russian foreign ministry declined immediate comment to Reuters, asking for a written request.

From the Guardian

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August 14th, 2012, 1:09 pm

 

464. Richard said:

462. ghufran said:
“so, what is the end game? …Political opposition is helpless and as frustrated as everybody else, defection is likely to increase without any hope on the horizon for a solution to this bloody mess.”

You write very clearly, accurately and honestly about the situation. But please find the strength to move beyond cynicism.

The opposition is obviously very fragmented and inept, with portions poisoned by desire for revenge and sectarianism. Yet out of that challenging mess will come a solution. Just wallowing in despair leads to more despair. Could removing a totalitarian police state ever be anything but messy?

Bosnia somehow found an ugly way forward. Hell, Rwanda is now a peaceful country with high growth economy.

You are right in what you say. But the human spirit is strong and will somehow find a way. There has to be a way out of this mess, good people will find a way to work together.

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August 14th, 2012, 1:39 pm

 

465. Tara said:

Bashar is more and more becoming a warlord…He now controls 30% of Syria…read more from a bit more than a “common Syrian”, “dramatizing” and “painting a false picture” of the not so  painful life in Syria to satisfy some kind of weird burning desire to bash the regime.   

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9474670/Bashar-al-Assad-regime-controls-only-30-per-cent-of-Syria-says-former-PM.html

Bashar al-Assad regime ‘controls only 30 per cent of Syria’ says former PM
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime controls less than a third of Syria and the army should abandon him for the “side of the people”, the country’s former prime minister said.
….
As for his own decision to defect, Mr Hijab said this had been motivated by revulsion over the regime’s suppression of the uprising. He felt “pain in his soul” over the army’s assault on civilian areas and the loss of perhaps 20,000 lives during the last 17 months of bloodshed.
“I was powerless to stop the injustice,” he added. “It is my duty to wash my hands of this corrupt regime.”
…..

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August 14th, 2012, 1:47 pm

 

466. omen said:

209. ghufran: Assad and top corrupt political leaders and security chiefs must go.

how do you propose for this to happen? asking them nicely?

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August 14th, 2012, 1:49 pm

 

467. omen said:

208. ALDENDESHE said:
Blame Bashar Al Assad, he is responsible for this all.

bravo.

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August 14th, 2012, 1:51 pm

 

468. omen said:

212. SON OF DAMASCUS said:
While I agree with you whole heartedly that the Assad regime is guilty for the devastation and losses happening in Aleppo and elsewhere, personally I can’t help but put some of the blame on the FSA today.

you’ve nursed a bias against the fsa from the start.

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August 14th, 2012, 1:58 pm

 

469. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Solidarity togetherness community unity
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgE-vDDjk94
.

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August 14th, 2012, 3:17 pm

 

470. irritated said:

Tara

“I do not need to dramatize and falsely paint you a picture of any sort. This is not my style. ”

I am not saying your falsely paint it black but I don’t know on who you are lying to get your information about poverty in Syria. I doubt your healthy family with a villa in Zabadani has witnessed the ‘humiliating and miserable’ life of the Syrians, and if they have, I wonder if they organized charities to help the people in need.
Yes, the country was mismanaged , yes they were people connected to the regime, probably like your family, sunni, alawite and christians who benefited from their connection selfishly to get richer and paying zero taxes and expecting the government to cater for free education, free medical for the others.
Yes, the regime is to blame for not curbing corruption, implementing a intelligent tax system and not modernizing fast enough the country, but the rich class of Syria like the rich class in most Arab countries has a very dirty conscience.
The Syrian uprising was encouraged by Facebook, right? Who uses Facebook in Syria where internet penetration is low, except the sons and daughters of these rich connected people who had their crisis of ‘freedom’ and ‘dignity’ when their pocket were full.
Come on, how many of these went to poor areas to distribute food or to propose their help? I know a few who would, but the majority were sitting on their computer complaining about lack of freedom…
There is no comparison with Egypt or Yemen or Tunisia where poverty is so obvious and the government help unexistant.

For sure, a lot has to change in Syria but to respond to Syria lover, the mentality of the people does not develop in the void. If Syrians are good people, their system of being governed for 40 years must have something to do with it.
Stop looking for reasons to blame the government and look for reasons to blame yourself and the Syrian wealthy class who enjoyed a high life and did not care a bit about sharing it with the poor.

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August 14th, 2012, 3:40 pm

 

471. irritated said:

#464 Tara

Ryad Hijab talks like the FSA commader who assured that the Syrian Army was controlling only 15% of Salahedine and in a matter of 2 days, it became 100%.
The guy is rejected by both parties and has zero future. Maybe HBJ will find a well paid job to these ‘defectors’ in his Intelligence bureau

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August 14th, 2012, 3:46 pm

 

472. irritated said:

463. Tara

I am surprised you still believe AL Arabiya and Saudi newspapers rumors and lies they carry? They’ll never apologize… are you joking?

And our dear Visitor is spending his “precious time” digging in this garbage fantasy world and presenting it to us as real facts.

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August 14th, 2012, 3:52 pm

 

473. zoo said:

An Islamic Egypt is Born
14 August 2012
http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blogs/michael-j-totten


More likely than not, whatever Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood do in Egypt will end up creating a fifth model of Islamic government in the Middle East that doesn’t currently exist anywhere else. And because Egypt is the cultural capital of the Arab world, it will stand a real chance of being exported and replicated in other places. Hang on. The ride will be bumpy and long.

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August 14th, 2012, 4:05 pm

 

474. zoo said:

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August 14th, 2012, 4:08 pm

 

475. Tara said:

Irritated @469

Sorry to disappoint you, but  my immediate family members could’ve benefited from the regime but chose not to….so I do not fit in the box you are perhaps trying to fit me in.  I do not belong to the group of people who you stated are having freedom and dignity crisis after their pockets were filled.  I have no guilt and my sensitive conscience is not dirty.   

Just like Bashar al Assad, you are unwilling to see that the Syrian revolution is    ثورة شعب.  Just like Bashar al Assad, you are unwilling to see that those want the toppling of the regime are genuine, legitimate, ordinary Syrians.  Just like Bashar al Assad, you are quick to categorize the revolutionists and their supporters as either Islamic terrorists, traitors and foreign agents, revengeful or power-greedy exiles, and now wealthy elite with dirty conscience.  Find me a new category please…the average boring category would fit more.

When the head is corrupt, almost every one else becomes corrupt.  When the head is a dictator, everyone else including the janitor becomes a dictator.  The culpability is obvious.  You just do not want to admit it.
 

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August 14th, 2012, 4:36 pm

 

476. zoo said:

“Of course, this includes the President and his family must step aside at least for a while”

Ceasefire only solution to Syrian crisis – opposition activist
Published: 14 August, 2012, 18:25

http://www.rt.com/news/syria-opposition-activist-crisis-653/

The only path to peace in Syira is a ceasefire, yet a proxy war backed by outside groups is holding both the Syrian government and the opposition hostage, Syrian political activist Abdul-Aziz Al-Khair says.

Khair has been an opposition supporter for over a decade in a country that’s now torn by violence.

Oksana Boyko: He was a critic of the Syrian authorities long before it was safe to do that, spending 14 years in prison for his political activism. Doctor Abdul-Aziz Al-Khair, a prominent member of Syria’s domestic position is joining us now on RT.

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August 14th, 2012, 4:43 pm

 

477. Son of Damascus said:

Visitor,

I would tell you to relax but I have done so repeatedly and you are still seething with anger. Dr. Ahmad is really not worth your time, nor mine…

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August 14th, 2012, 4:51 pm

 

478. omen said:

the subconscious reasoning of pacifist thought:

Nourished for hundreds of years on a literature in which Right invariably triumphs in the last chapter, we believe half-instinctively that evil always defeats itself in the long run. Pacifism, for instance, is founded largely on this belief. Don’t resist evil, and it will somehow destroy itself. But why should it? What evidence is there that it does? And what instance is there of a modern industrialized state collapsing unless conquered from the outside by military force?

Consider for instance the re-institution of slavery. Who could have imagined twenty years ago that slavery would return to Europe? Well, slavery has been restored under our noses. The forced-labour camps all over Europe and North Africa where Poles, Russians, Jews and political prisoners of every race toil at road-making or swamp-draining for their bare rations, are simple chattle slavery. The most one can say is that the buying and selling of slaves by individuals is not yet permitted. In other ways — the breaking-up of families, for instance — the conditions are probably worse than they were on the American cotton plantations.

There is no reason for thinking that this state of affairs will change while any totalitarian domination endures. We don’t grasp its full implications, because in our mystical way we feel that a regime founded on slavery must collapse. But it is worth comparing the duration of the slave empires of antiquity with that of any modern state. Civilizations founded on slavery have lasted for such periods as four thousand years.

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August 14th, 2012, 5:14 pm

 

479. VISITOR said:

475 SOD,

You keep misreading me as if I am speaking to myself.

First I am not at the least angry. It will be a huge stretch to say a hyporbole such as your seething with anger thing.

Second, I am not defending a person. I am defending an argument.

Third, I made it clear. You need to counter al-Ghazali’s trashing of the faith of the esoterics (which includes all the groups we’re discussing) in order to support your argument.

Fourth, you will not be the person to say who and who cannot be listened to.

Come back to me when you have something positive to say about all of the above.

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August 14th, 2012, 5:16 pm

 

480. ann said:

Turkey tries hard to impose no-fly zone inside Syria – 2012-08-14

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-08/14/c_131785308.htm

ISTANBUL, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Turkey is trying hard to push forward the imposition of a no-fly zone inside Syrian territory while its army staged a new military drill near its border with Syria on Tuesday.

The semi-official Anatolia news agency reported that Turkey deployed tanks, advanced armored personnel carriers and tactical missile-launching platforms in the border area of Oncupinar.

The latest military exercises came as Washington and Ankara are reportedly considering imposing a no-fly zone in Syria as an option to address the conflict in the country.

An official source disclosed that Turkey would cooperate with the United States and Arab allies to press for a UN resolution mandating the establishment of safety zone within Syria.

“This will be complemented by military measures that may include a no-fly zone and restriction of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troop movements,” the source said.

[…]

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-08/14/c_131785308.htm

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August 14th, 2012, 6:32 pm

 

481. ann said:

Iran warns against “probable” U.S. no-fly zone plan in Syria: spokesman – 2012-08-14

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-08/14/c_131784987.htm

TEHRAN, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Tuesday warned against the United States’ probable imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria and urged regional countries to prevent from being engaged into such measures, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Mehmanparast made the remarks in his weekly press conference in Tehran.

“Unfortunately, the American side plays a destructive role in the Middle East developments,” said the spokesman, adding that the United States is preparing to repeat its Libyan experience for Syria.

The U.S. plan to impose a no-fly zone in Syria shows an ” ominous plot” preparing the ground for a military intervention in the country, he was quoted as saying.

“Regional countries should not allow such measures in the region” to happen, he added.

[…]

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-08/14/c_131784987.htm

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August 14th, 2012, 6:42 pm

 

482. Wim said:

Does anyone expect that Syria will be less corrupt if the rebels win? Or will it be even more corrupt as all those leaders will compete to get their “deserved” booty?

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August 17th, 2012, 5:36 pm

 

483. August 19, 2012—SnyderTalk Editorial: There is (and Can Be) Only One Messiah | SnyderTalk said:

[…] Ehsani: Was Insufficient Economic Growth a Critical Factor in Syria? […]

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August 18th, 2012, 6:53 am

 

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