Will “Day of Rage” Rock Syria?

A number of people have asked me for an assessment of what may happen in Syria during the coming days. Many Syrians have called for a “Day of Rage” on February 4 and 5. (See the Facebook site, “The Syrian Revolution.”)

Of course Assad must fear the wave of popular protests demanding regime-change and freedom that is sweeping the Middle East. Syria shares the same economic problems as most Middle Eastern countries: poverty, inflation, joblessness, as well as the political woes of authoritarianism. Thirty-two percent of the Syrian population lives on $2 a day or less. Fifty percent spend close to half their income on food. They live in terrible insecurity and anxiety. Commodity prices are racing up worldwide. Wheat prices increased by 30% last year. Syria is liberalizing economically and cutting price supports and subsidies. The bottom half of Syrians are loosing what state supports they had at the same time as they are being hammered by rising food costs and natural calamities, such as the severe drought. Reform is not producing enough jobs.

Despite the economic similarities with Egypt, Syrian society and circumstances are different. Syrians have been traumatized by the violence and chaos of Iraq. The presence of almost one million Iraqi refugees has chastened Syrians. they understand the dangers of regime collapse in a religiously divided society. No Syrian wants to risk civil war. Freedom in Iraq has spelled disaster for the country’s minorities, both Sunnis and Christian. Iraq provides a cautionary tale for Syria’s minorities in particular.

The Syrian regime is very tough. It will try to nip any demonstrations in the bud.

I have watched the call for a day of rage on Feb 4 and 5 on the social networks. External opposition elements are playing a big role, no doubt, but opposition leaders inside Syria are also picking up the gauntlet. Suhair Atassi, an outspoken advocate for reform who runs a democratic forum on Facebook, has been outspoken. She is under house arrest.  It is hard to know how many Syrians will turn up. An earlier Facebook call for a demonstration in front of the Tunisian embassy during the height of the turmoil in Tunis ended with only nine people turning up. The present call for a day of rage is better organized and more wide spread. Certainly it will attract more people. I suspect there will be protests in front of Syrian embassies in the West.

The Assad regime is looking at a significant improvement to its geostrategic position in the region, if it weathers the immediate storm of protest, which I suspect it will. The Camp David Agreement and America’s brokered peace between Israel and Egypt was a hard blow to Syria and the Palestinians. It meant they had no leverage to get back their occupied territories. The hope of weakening Israel’s sense of military security and improving security for Syria makes authorities in Damascus cheer on the collapse of the Mubarak regime.

The Egyptian Muslim brotherhood has promised that any new government will stand by its international commitments which means the peace treaty with Israel. All the same, any new government will have a much harder time cooperating so closely with Israel to suppress the Palestinians and “resistance.” It should be remembered that Mubarak took the lead in condemning Hizbullah in 2006 and insisting that it of responsible for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. This may induce Israel to restart peace discussions with Syria, which Assad has been calling for in vain. The fall of the Mubarak regime may put the Golan Heights back in play, which is good for Syria and Assad.

Syria’s leaders believe that the terrible imbalance in power between Israel and the Arab countries is the main cause for the failure of the peace process. They expect that regime change in Egypt may help to right that balance and encourage Israel to come back to the peace table.

Does Assad’s support for resistance against Israeli occupation of Arab lands and dispossession of the Palestinians win him popular support? It is hard to know how much support Assad gets for his ideological opposition to Israel and America. Clearly it wins him support from a section of the population who cares about Syria’s occupied land and those who sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians. Assad ranks high in opinion polls that compare the popularity of Arab leaders.

All the same, the Syrian regime is oppressive and has failed to raise living standards for at least half of the population. The top 10% are getting richer because of economic liberalization, reforms, and increased competition, but the bottom half are seeing their standard of living eroded by globalization and reform. The income gap in Syria is widening as it is in countries across the world.

[End of Landis commentary]

Mazen Darwish from the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, speaking to the Financial Times said drawing parallels between Egypt and Syria was not useful:

“The situation in Syria is different and more difficult, it’s more complicated.” Mr Darwish also said that the Facebook call to demonstrate had been made mainly from Syrians living abroad, which limited its effectiveness.

The following Erdogan speech is important. It indicates how Turkey expects changes in Egypt to affect the Palestinians and Arab-Israeli conflict, among other things. It is also significant in its depiction of the leadership role Turkey aspires to in the region.

From a speech by Erdogan on Turkish NTV television February 1: (Many thanks to Nicholas Noe, whose Mideastwire.com translated this.)

Not only in Turkey but everywhere in the world, the Justice and Development Party has shown no fear or hesitation in siding with the oppressed and the victim. It has always taken its position against the status quo and against pressure and oppression… Turkey is playing roles that can upturn all the stones in the region and that can change the course of history. My dear brothers, we are pursuing a foreign policy with character. Turkey is saying no to the oppressors. It is challenging what was blindly accepted until now. It is calling the murderers murderers. It is destroying taboos. Turkey is saying wait a minute to those who condemn others to poverty and to blockades. Turkey is shouting the truth and the just at every opportunity. Turkey is positing a strong will to help peace, stability, tranquility, democracy, universal law, rights and freedoms to prevail in its region. We represent a mentality that seeks for its brothers whatever it wants for itself.

We have done all we could until today to make sure that the brotherly peoples and the neighboring countries do not experience instability or are dragged to civil wars. We will continue to do that in the future.

We have always said this: Countries that cannot solve their internal problems, that cannot put an end to their internal conflicts, that cannot achieve a consensus within themselves, cannot achieve a bright future or defend their interests outside. That is why we called for a national consensus in Palestine. That is why we tried to help bring about a political consensus in Lebanon. That is why we made efforts for the establishment of a democratic consensus in Iraq. We always supported the regional countries’ internal peace, national consensus, unity and integrity, and democratic development. We always stressed the importance of all that. This group has recorded its name in history as the voice of the oppressed in Turkey, in the region, and in the entire world.

We must understand this well: There is no administration in history that remained in power by using oppression, intimidation, and fear. In all periods of history, sooner or later, human dignity has broken all chains, pulled down all walls, and the voice of the oppressed has been heard, even if slowly at first. Therefore, no government can remain indifferent to rights and freedoms. No government can remain indifferent to the people’s democratic demands.

In Turkey, too, the nation’s yearning for democracy was voiced strongly. In 1950, the nation shouted: enough, power to the people!…

No government can remain in power in spite of the people. The state exists for the people. It gains meaning with the existence, will, and support of the people. Our basic philosophy is this: The people must live so that the state can live.

As I just said, we want for our friends and brothers what we want for ourselves. If we want democracy, prosperity, justice, and freedom for ourselves, we want the same things for the brotherly peoples. Just as we want peace, security, stability, development, unity and integrity for ourselves, we want the same things for the brotherly countries.

From here, I would like to make a very sincere suggestion to Egyptian President Mr. Husni Mubarak and caution him: We are human beings. We are mortal. We are not immortal. We will all die and be questioned for what we have done in our lives. As Muslims, we will all end up in two-cubic meter holes. We are all mortals. What is immortal is the legacy we leave behind; what is important is to be remembered with respect; it is to be remembered with benediction. We exist for the people. We fulfill our duties for our people. When the imam comes to us as we die, he will not address us as the president, as the head of state, as the prime minister, or as the minister. I am now talking to the trillionaires: the imam will not address you as trillionaires. He will address us all as simple men or women. What will come with you will only be the shroud. Nothing else. Therefore we must know the value of that shroud; we must listen to the voice of our conscience and to! the voice of our people; we must be ready either for our people’s prayers or for their malediction. Therefore, I say that you must listen, and we must listen, to the people’s outcry, to their extremely humanitarian demands. Meet the people’s desire for change with no hesitation.

I am saying this clearly: You must be the first to take a step for Egypt’s peace, security, and stability, without allowing exploiters, dirty circles, and circles that have dark scenarios over Egypt to take initiative. Take steps that will satisfy the people.

In our world today, freedoms can no longer be postponed or ignored.

Elections that last months cannot be called democratic. We conclude our elections in 24 hours.

We hope that these incidents come to an end as soon as possible, without leading to great suffering, and that the people’s legitimate and sensible demands are met.

Egypt is a country of civilization. It is a country full of historical and cultural riches.

Therefore I call on our Egyptian brothers: During this entire process of resistance, stay away from arms, but stand up for your history. Stand up for your culture. Do not let them be wounded. Wage only the dignified struggle for freedoms. That is your most democratic right. Democracy and freedoms are not privileges but human rights.

I must also say the following most sincerely: If one life is lost in Egypt, be it that of a soldier, of a policeman, or a civilian, it is as if that life was lost from the Turkish nation. We do not want a single person to be injured in Egypt. It is our greatest wish to see that both the people and the government act with a similar sense of responsibility and with a dignity that befits the peoples of the region, to shoulder a change that will satisfy all sectors in Egypt, and that will carry the freedoms and democracy to the highest standards.

Turkey will continue to remain on the side of the brotherly peoples of Egypt and Tunisia, and to share their sorrow, joy, and hopes.

It is our greatest wish to see that in Egypt and Tunisia, reforms are carried out, peace and calm are restored quickly, and that unity and integrity remain unscathed.

We hope that in Tunisia, the new government will carry out democratic reforms in line with the demands of the Tunisian people, that it will enable the broadest possible political participation and representation, and that it will implement an effective economic development plan. Turkey will be on the side of Tunisia and the Tunisian people during this critical period….”  Nicholas Noe, Co-Founder, Mideastwire.com

For an excellent analysis of Egypt’s economic woes, see this article in Slate By Annie Lowrey.

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After Tunisia: Robin Yassin-Kassab on Syria
The Guardian, Thursday 27 January 2011

With its young population, and a bureaucracy run by the same authoritarian party for four decades, Syria is by no means exempt from the pan-Arab crisis of unemployment, low wages and the stifling of civil society, conditions that brought revolution to Tunisia. Nevertheless, in the short to medium term, it seems highly unlikely that the Syrian regime will face a Tunisia-style challenge.

A state-controlled Syrian newspaper, al-Watan, blamed the Tunisian revolution on the Ben Ali regime’s “political approach of relying on ‘friends’ to protect them”. Tunisia’s status as western client was only a minor motivator for the uprising there, but still al-Watan’s analysis will be shared by many Syrians. Unlike the majority of Arab states, Syria’s foreign policy is broadly in line with public opinion – and in Syria foreign policy, which has the potential to immediately translate into a domestic security issue, matters a great deal. The regime has kept the country in a delicate position of no war with, but also no surrender to, Israel (which occupies the Golan Heights), and has pursued close co-operation with Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements as well as emerging regional powers such as Turkey and Iran. This is appreciated by “the street”, and the president himself is no hate figure in the mould of Ben Ali or Mubarak. Where his father engineered a Stalinist personality cult, mild-mannered Bashar al-Assad enjoys a reasonable level of genuine popularity. Much is made of his low-security visits to theatres and ice cream parlours

Syrians call for protests on Facebook and Twitter
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 1, 2011;

BEIRUT — Syrians are organizing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter that call for a “day of rage” in Damascus this week, taking inspiration from Egypt and Tunisia in using social networking sites to rally their followers for sweeping political reforms.

Like Egypt and Tunisia, Syria suffers from corruption, poverty and unemployment. All three nations have seen subsidy cuts on staples like bread and oil. Syria’s authoritarian president has resisted calls for political freedoms and jailed critics of his regime.

The main Syrian protest page on Facebook is urging people to protest in Damascus on Feb. 4 and 5 for “a day of rage.” It says the goal is to “end the state of emergency in Syria and end corruption.”

The number of people who have joined Facebook and Twitter pages calling for protests on Friday and Saturday is still relatively small, and some are believed to live outside the country.

President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Monday that his nation is immune from the kind of unrest roiling Tunisia and Egypt.

He was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as acknowledging that the events signaled a “new era” in the Middle East. But he said Syria, which has gradually shed its socialist past in favor of the free market in recent years, was insulated from the upheaval because he understood his people’s needs and has united them in common cause against Israel.

Social networking sites were integral to rallying protesters in Tunisia and Egypt. Facebook is banned in Syria, which makes organizing more difficult – even though many Syrians manage to access the social networking site anyway. More than 2,500 people have joined the page calling for protests on Feb. 4-5, with another 850 joining a page in favor of President Assad.

…But Assad has not matched liberal economics with political reforms and critics of the regime are routinely locked up, drawing an outcry from international human rights groups.

He is seen by many Arabs, however, as one of the few leaders in the region willing to stand up to arch enemy Israel. And his support for Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups opposed to the Jewish state as well as his opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq has won him more support among his people than other Arab rulers.

Comments (37)


1. FHMETKom said:

YOU WILL LAUGH A LOT ON THIS DAY..NOT ONLY U. THe WHOLE WORLD WILL LAUGH AT US, u know why? coz our prsidnt has already found a way out, i think he is the smartest among the rest. what you will see on this day is syrians raising up their voices IN SUPPORT not against him!!!
laugh a lot ok?

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February 2nd, 2011, 1:32 pm

 

2. Ghat Albird said:

Dr. Landis.

I came across the following commentary that you may find interesting..

The Syrians are proud of the Bachar el-Assad government: he sided with the Resistance and managed to safeguard his national interests without ever capitulating to pressure.

Most of all, he was able to shield his country from the fate contrived by Washington: either chaos like Iraq or Saudi-style religious despotism. Admittedly, many features of his management style are contested, but he is developing a middle class together with the democratic decision-making processes that underpin it.

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February 2nd, 2011, 1:33 pm

 

3. AbuOmar said:

Thanks Josh for your insight

I think those who call for change in Syria misunderstand

the history , politics and ethnic/religous make up of the country.

they always go on about 11% alawis and sunnis being the majority.

What they dont realise is that the baath provided opportunities for and educated rural sunnis,

Therefore most rural sunnis are strong supporters of the regime.

From an economic and geographic perspective the majority rules

i.e rural people ( through the baath) rule. People from Golan , palestinian peasants( safad and surrounding villages) and ofcourse syrian peasants comprise the majority and they along with their fellow peasants ( the allawis) occupy important positions.

Who is going to protest and what about I still don’t understand.

Please can someone enlighten me as to what the grievance is?

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February 2nd, 2011, 2:26 pm

 

4. Syrian said:

The regime has always managed to be on the right side of history (Israel, Iran, Turkey, the first and second Irak wars, resistance, the Muslim brotherhood, relations with Arab “moderates”, the US, etc.), there is no reason to think it would not now. The legacy of the Asads is that they continuously did so for 40 years: this is unheard of in politics, let alone middle eastern politics!

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February 2nd, 2011, 2:52 pm

 

5. Alex said:

Rime Allaf has an excellent piece on CNN

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/02/02/rime.allaf.obama.orientalism/?hpt=C2

“Even when they embrace secular democracy, Arabs may be allowed liberation only if it comes on top of American tanks or when it suits Israel”

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February 2nd, 2011, 2:52 pm

 

6. AIG said:

Alex,

Do you really believe the US can influence that much what happens in Egypt or Syria? The Arab people hold their destiny in their own hands. It is not the US or Israel which determine who rules in Damascus and you know it. Same in Egypt. The Arabs get what they allow themselves, not what the US gives them.

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February 2nd, 2011, 3:40 pm

 

7. Ziadsoury said:

Cairo is burning. Wake up and support the people. I wonder if the Syrian authority would do that?

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February 2nd, 2011, 3:43 pm

 

8. Averroes said:

AIG is basically saying that the US and Israel have zero influence on what happens in “moderate”, pro-West Arab countries. This is not true. By influencing these corrupt rulers, who suck the blood of their own people, the US and Israel do indeed have a great influence on what happens.

However, I agree with the last statements that the Arabs get what they themselves allow.

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February 2nd, 2011, 3:47 pm

 

9. Atassi said:

FHMETKom,
I don’t think anyone should be laughing or crying, one of the problem with us Syrians is, We think we are smarter than the rest!! And we think we can and will outsmart the rest. this strategy can backfire, and everyone will loss in the process. please keep in mind, the Syrian business elites and the regime have too much invested and much more than the rest and wishs to keep the status quo, the disadvantaged and the poor got nothing to lose and wish to have righteous well deserved postive changes. I still don’t know how long the formula= “have-have not”+ mixture of oppression can be sustained….

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February 2nd, 2011, 4:19 pm

 

10. AIG said:

AVERROES,

Really, what is the difference between Mubarak and Asad except that Asad spouts “resistance” rhetoric and achieves less economic growth?

Mubarak is in place because Sadat was murdered. Sadat replaced Nasser and chose to move from the Soviet camp to the US camp during the cold war. Overall, it was a good choice. In 1956 Eisenhower “made” Nasser by kicking out Israel and France and the UK out of the Sinai and the Suez Canal. Yet, Eisenhower had very little influence over Nasser who chose to join the Soviet sphere.

The dictators are in place not because the US put them there or because the US supports them. Asad is in place in spite of US sanctions and certainly without US help. Without an invasion, Sadam would still be in power in Iraq. 10 years of sanctions did not help. The only reason the dictators are in place is because the Arab public tolerates them. The only way the US can get rid of a dictator is by invasion.

The US and of course Israel, have little influence when it comes to accelerating or decelerating democratic reforms in Arab countries.

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February 2nd, 2011, 4:29 pm

 

11. Friend in America said:

Syria has been unusually successful for decades in jockeying with neighboring countries. The government seems to be fixated on regional affairs, particularly the various “balance of powers”. But none of that matters now. Civil uprisings are not precipitated (or prevented) by foreign policy. They are the result of exasperation with internal civil and economic problems that do not get solved. Several days ago President Assad announced intentions to implement reforms. The entire rumble in Syria’s civil society can be dissipated by concentrating what grieves them, such as on
(1) more employment opportunities for the 18 to 30 age group of men,
(2) more economic and commercial reforms,
(3) raising the standard of living for the poor and very poor,
(4) repressing corruption (corruption corrods trust and loyalty to the government), and
(5) allowing more free speech.
Deal with regional and internal political issues later. As to when, sooner is better than later, as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt.

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February 2nd, 2011, 4:34 pm

 

12. Alex said:

President Assad talked about the two different classes of motivators that people have … their personal interests and their ideological interests. This opinion piece in Saudi Asharq Alawsat is mostly impressed by the President’s way of thinking.

«عليك أن تكون مرتبطا بشكل وثيق جدا بمعتقدات الناس. وهذه هي القضية الأساسية. عندما يكون هناك اختلاف بين سياستك ومعتقدات الشعب ومصالحه، سيكون لديك هذا الفراغ الذي يخلق اضطرابات. لذا الناس لا يعتاشون على المصالح فقط، بل يعتاشون على المعتقدات – أيضا -، لا سيما في المناطق المؤدلجة للغاية. إذا كنت لا تفهم الجانب الأيديولوجي للمنطقة، لا يمكنك فهم ما يحدث».

http://www.aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=606556&issueno=11754

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February 2nd, 2011, 5:13 pm

 

13. Alex said:

AIG,

Can not generalize. Different leaders have different support systems.

For example, Saddam ruled by a mixture of satisfying Sunni Iraqis, secular Iraqis, Baathists (there were many) and the poor nationalists who believed that he was really doing well fighting for the liberation of Palestine. Add to this list of rewards, his reputation for savagery that worked as a deterrent.

Mubarak’s main support system was his relation with the United States and Israel.

President Assad’s support system is very complex. But I am not discounting the absolute need to do what needs to be done to take care of Syria’s young population. This includes more effective economic reforms and more freedom of speech.

However, if you read Arab pres that normally is not friendly to Syria, you will realize that Assad has two distinct advantages: he is personally liked by Syrians and many Arabs, and he is considered to be highly successful as perhaps the only Arab strategist who can be a match to Israel and its friends.

The fact he did not recover the Golan during the ten years he has been in power is not disappointing many people. Just like Syrians know that it takes 20 years of school and university before you can be a heart surgeon, they also know that it takes patience to get America’s darling, Israel to give back the Golan Heights without going to war.

Here is a reminder from Zvi Bar’el (again) .. it will show you a main difference between Assad and Mubarak: Assad is perceived to be on his way to be a winner, … Mubarak lost:

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/a-new-regional-order-1.251964

“The two elderly leaders, Abdullah at 84 and Mubarak at 80, are seeing the region they used to lead slipping out of their grip and into that of new players – mavericks over whom they have no sway, bright new stars in the Middle Eastern skies. These include Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is half their age; Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is repositioning the former Ottoman Empire into power; and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is blazing like a menacing meteor over the Arab Middle East. The cardinal Middle Eastern conflicts – between Israel and the Palestinians, within the Palestinian Authority, between Syria and Lebanon, between Syria and Israel, the Iraqi conflict, the Iranian threat – they have all changed hands and are now under new management.””…But the change in the Middle East goes deeper than a personnel turnover in the ranks of those running the strategic regional game. A new Middle Eastern regional order is in the making.”

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February 2nd, 2011, 5:39 pm

 

14. SimoHurtta said:

The dictators are in place not because the US put them there or because the US supports them. Asad is in place in spite of US sanctions and certainly without US help. Without an invasion, Sadam would still be in power in Iraq. 10 years of sanctions did not help. The only reason the dictators are in place is because the Arab public tolerates them. The only way the US can get rid of a dictator is by invasion.

The US and of course Israel, have little influence when it comes to accelerating or decelerating democratic reforms in Arab countries.

AIG have you read any books of the history after WW2? It is naive to claim that USA has no role how many countries in the world have been and are ruled. USA has over 700 military bases in 120 countries. Certainly not for hunting Al Qaida terrorists. For USA has been always most important that the raw materials come cheaply, markets are opened and labour is offered with low prices to US companies. Obedience has always been number one in relations with USA. Democracy for the people has only been a propaganda weapon aimed to US domestic audience.

AIG USA has installed (trained, paid, armed, organized and planned) to power numerous generals and dictators around the world. In Latin America, Asia and even in Europe. Alone the “help” USA gave for Suharto did cost over one million lives. Some even estimate the amount of dead to three million. US help was not only money, bullets and weapons, USA also gave name lists of the people it wanted to vanish. The people in those lists represented the educated nationalistic class, not only communists. When people kicked out generals Suharto and Marcos in Philippines it was a equal moment of panic for USA than we are witnessing now.

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February 2nd, 2011, 6:17 pm

 

15. majedkhaldoon said:

Syrian has grievences
1-Lack of freedom and democracy
2-severe corruptions
3-Monopoly of the rule by Asad family and Alawites
4- increase level of poverty,salaries are not enough to survive
5 lack of available jobs for the young and educated
6-Lack of any action or progress on the Golan Height
Assad has on his side,
1- He is young and likable
2-the people like his stand as far as HA,Hamas And Iraq
I do not think he will use strong hand against the demonstrators, but I doubt that day of rage will be successful.

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February 2nd, 2011, 6:19 pm

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

The US and of course Israel, have little influence when it comes to accelerating or decelerating democratic reforms in Arab countries.

AIG,

Yes, but most Arabs will disagree with you, especially on this website. Arab Disenfrachisement Dogma™ (ADD) stipulates that all bad things that befall Arabs is someone else’s fault.

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February 2nd, 2011, 6:25 pm

 

17. Alex said:

إسرائيل تسحب كل رعاياها من مصر , ما عدا حسنى مبارك

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February 2nd, 2011, 6:33 pm

 

18. AIG said:

Alex,

Mubarak’s support base is not the US or Israel, it is the Egyptian army and the Egyptian civil service.

As for Asad, if he is so liked, why does he need such a police state? His complete shutdown of free speech shows that he is afraid to let people voice their true opinions. As for his strategy countering Israel, it does not seem to be successful at all. The Golan is in Israeli hands and the Lebanese border will be quiet for 5 years this summer. Never in the history of Israel has our northern border been so quiet for so long. So, he has lost all military leverage over Israel. As for the US sanctions, they are still in place. And during his reign the gap in wealth and technology between Israel and Syria has widened significantly.

I agree though that Syrians seems to if not want then at least accept Asad. They will have to live with their choice.

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February 2nd, 2011, 6:42 pm

 

19. FHMETKOm said:

ATASSI

i don’t care about the investments you are talking about . these investments are only increasing makhlouf’s bank account and the rest of the family. i am a normal citizen ,i have the right to have the normal basic needs ( education – household-medication ) and the government is required to provide this to every syrian .
if you not living in syria then try it , go live not visit and leave.
Public schools are getting worse, not much families trust their children in the public school anymore and the private schools are waaaaaaaaay too expensive.
universities systems is moving from the free phase to the pre- paid phase.
hospitals…! no need to describe… any doctor would ask for at least 500 liras just to check you.
no need to talk about the prices of every single thing in syria. every thing have gone ten times than it used to 7 years ago except for the employee salaries.
could you tell me why there is this on – going interior immigration into Damascus??
could you tell me why there is no election presidential system in our Constitution till now!! ? we are in the 21st century and we still don’t have presidential election !!what we have is استفتاء!!
وليس انتخابات
please don’t tell me that the world will not laugh at us on Feb 5th
i already know that orders will come to ministries and schools for students and employees to march to the president ‘s house and call for his name…!! the way it used to back in his father ‘s time .if you spent your childhood in syria, you must remember how orders would come for students to march in the streets to salut the president.
PLEASE PLEASE stop defending “Bashar” i don’t care if his exterior policy is with PAlastine , why should i thank him for this??? this is the normal natural thing!!! why we arabs have this habit that if presidents do some thing good, then we should thankt them ..WHY .. he is doing his job…
just look at the interior policy the interior situation , we are on our way to become a second Egypt. the middle class is vanishing , the society is staring to have this new class , THE UNDER POVERTY LINE PEOPLE.
and the poor are directed by the religious figures and this weekly stupid meetings. the syrians elite are immigrating out side Syria because they can’t stand seeing this whole situation .
if anyone speaks then he is not Syrian check this , the show has started: http://samaswa.com/?p=2300
or he would be accused of being pushed by Americans,
i am syrian I AM SYRIAN i want a respectful life. i have the right to have a respectful damn life. STOP DEFENDING BASHAR AND HIS REGIME . i hate it when they say SOURIA Al ASSAD , it makes me crazy . SOURYIA IS NOT FOR ASSAD FAMILY . SOURIYA IS FOR ME FOR US .

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February 3rd, 2011, 2:53 am

 

20. FHMTKOM said:

Lak even if you died in syria and need to be buried , you need a fortune !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 250 hundred thousands liras!!!!!!

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February 3rd, 2011, 3:04 am

 

21. why-discuss said:

Compare to Egypt, Syria has much more dangers to face:

Israel’s spies network found in Lebanon, hundred of thousands of iraqi refugees, many of them could be terrorists, hundred of thousands of frustrated palestinians refugees, restless kurds, fearful christian minorities watching what is happening in Sunni Egypt, land occupied by Israel that is eager to create internal unrest so they keep the Golan , western sanctions that contribute to cripple the economy and more..
This would well justify that Syria needs a strong secret police and political freedom of expression should be limited.
It is sad but understandable! Wouldn’t you do the same in such circumstances? China does it for much less dangers.

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February 3rd, 2011, 7:29 am

 

22. Akbar Palace said:

FHMETKOm,

Thank you for your story. Here on Syria Comment, sometimes we hear too much from Syrians who live outside of Syria, anti-Israel Israelis, Finns who hate Jews and the US, Islamists, or privledged Arabist academics who don’t live among “the little people” but are always there to take up for President-for-Life, Bashar Assad.

Your post is breath of fresh air. Good luck.

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February 3rd, 2011, 7:40 am

 

23. Akbar Palace said:

Why isn’t Why-Discuss “Jubilant”?

This would well justify that Syria needs a strong secret police and political freedom of expression should be limited.

Why-Discuss,

That flies in the face of what everyone on this website has been saying all these years, namely, that Bashar Assad is loved by his people.

In fact, Professor Josh’s last thread from a couple of days ago states:

Syrian Authorities Jubilant about Prospect of Mubarak’s Fall and Shifting Balance of Power in the Region

So what are you so concerned about?

… hundred of thousands of iraqi refugees, many of them could be terrorists…

Please define the term “terrorists”. Just for fun;)

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February 3rd, 2011, 7:48 am

 

24. firas said:

We don’t necessarily want total change of the government, but perhaps a shift towards democracy and an opening up of the labor market can change the whole situation in Syria, indeed we don’t want a civil war like in Iraq, but I don’t believe the Assad regime really realizes that, I think all they care about is power “and to their alawi minority” and to keep the status quo like that for always, that’s how it has always been, and that’s how it will be if the people will not march to change it, not necessarily violently. This is a historical opportunity for us. Look at Tunisia, Tunisia has been looked at by western media and standards as a success during Ben Ali’s reign, they said, according to western academics, it’s progressive, relatively rich, and a booming touristic sector, but that was just western propaganda, the truth was the opposite. Even though Tunisia is more related to the west than Syria yet it collapsed very fast and was the beginning of the domino reaction. I think it’s not objective to say that Syria is witnessing change “but it’s slow”, I don’t buy that, that’s propaganda of the Assad Regime

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February 3rd, 2011, 7:56 am

 

25. Tag des Zorns in Syrien – 4. und 5. Februar 2011 | Beob8er . net said:

[…] In Syrien leben nach wie vor über einer Million Flüchtlinge aus dem Nachbarland Irak. Landis weiter: „No Syrian wants to risk civil war. Freedom in Iraq has spelled disaster for the country’s […]

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February 3rd, 2011, 8:51 am

 
 

27. pamela said:

Fhmetkom you hit the nail right on the head, bravo !!1

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February 3rd, 2011, 10:45 am

 

28. Someone said:

The rest of the world should and must understand that Syrians truly love their president and they are not willing to rise up against him. He is very good with his people and that STUPID facebook group is a joke; it is made by a couple of haters and outsiders.

Syria loves Bashar Al-Assad.

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February 3rd, 2011, 11:00 am

 

29. Ghat Albird said:

22. AKBAR PALACE said:

Please define the term “terrorists”. Just for fun;)

How about the IRGUN ZVAI LUMI…..THE STERN GANG…..OR THIS GUY who is still in a coma.

“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours…Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” — Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.

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February 3rd, 2011, 11:36 am

 

30. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat Terrorism?

Ghat,

We all know that Arabs can’t be terrorists, only Jews can. That is a given here on Syria Comment.

I just wanted a simple definition. Why don’t you be bold, and take a “stab” at it…;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariel_Sharon

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February 3rd, 2011, 12:26 pm

 

31. Ghat Albird said:

29. AKBAR PALACE said:

I just wanted a simple definition. Why don’t you be bold, and take a “stab” at it…;)

why don’t you take a stab at it? or are you too “special or scared”?

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February 3rd, 2011, 12:46 pm

 

32. Ghat Albird said:

A must read review of Israel’s peaceful efforts in Egypt.

The office of israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered their counterpart in the Egyptian government, Omar Suleiman, also head of Egyptian intelligence, to send death squad units, the groups of militant zionist murderers who wear Arab civilian clothes also known as “mistaaravim”, to infiltrate the protesters in Egypt in order to assassinate the leaders of the opposition and the revolutionary movement who take part in the protests against the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak and his thugs.

The israeli hebrew newspaper “Maariv” revealed yesterday that high-level officials in the office of Benjamin Netanyahu carried out in recent days a series of phone calls with Suleiman and advised him about the urgent necessity of “security” coordination on several issues between Israel and Egypt. The newspaper added that the prevention of smuggling weapons through the tunnels on Egypt’s border to the Gaza Strip was only one issue among others which the officials discussed.

The Quds Press agency, quoting Israeli sources, said that the jewish zionist state had offered General Omar Suleiman, now appointed “vice-President of the Republic of Egypt” by dictator Mubarak, to put “all potential resources” at his disposal to “protect the regime in Egypt”, including the implementation of the “specific operations to pre-empt the popular revolution”, and asked him to work together to prevent what they called “smuggling weapon to the Gaza Strip”

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February 3rd, 2011, 1:11 pm

 

33. Shai said:

Ghat,

Please share with us your source, for this “must read review” in comment 31. The first paragraph seems to be supported by the last two, but clearly it has nothing to do with them. It is an interesting tactic, though, to make a claim that can’t be substantiated, and to quickly wrap it up by things that can, or that make more sense. The last two paragraphs talk about the tunnels, cooperation over which has taken place for years. Sending Zionist assassination squads dressed as Arabs to help the Egyptian leadership assassinate its own citizens, is very interesting.

Tell me, by the way, why can’t Egypt send its own assassination squads, also dressed as Arabs, to assassinate its own citizens? Why do they need us? Or is it a question of experience?

Next you’ll tell us the Iranian leadership has asked Israel to send Zionist squads dressed as Sunni Muslims to assassinate Shia in Southern Lebanon, just to give Iran an excuse to come in “to help support our brothers…”

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February 3rd, 2011, 4:28 pm

 

34. Angelis Dania said:

Without Hafez & Bashar Al-Assad, God help Syria! The country would have been eaten alive.

But let’s open up Syria shall we? Let’s pretend it’s an island like Australia, or a country without very troubled borders like the U.S.

Now, whose brand of democracy shall we take? How about the kind that gives the well-intentioned President virtually no power, such as what has nerfed Obama’s ability to realise his visions of peace? Or that gives the reckless President full power, such as Bush going into Iraq despite the significant protests of congress and lack of evidence?

What about the type that consistently elects murderous governments for a span of over 60 years, such as the one that kills people, steals their lands, and denies them their basic human rights?

Or perhaps the paper-thin democracy of countries like Jordan, who, despite the level and rank of corruption, is allowed to be considered as such because it allies itself strategically with the U.S and/or Israel?

Now if we were pretending to be Australia, people can speak out against the government, protest in the streets, organise on the internet, etc., without too much coming of it. Even if it causes some people to resign, the country will run pretty much the same.

Substitute the same scenario into Syria, and you’d have the rabid hate-spouting portion of the Muslim Brotherhood fueling the fires of sectarianism and religious oppression into a full blown uprising and civil war. Not to mention the chaos and insurgency that would be organised by outside interests that would benefit from having the thorn of Assad run Syria plucked from their sides.

That was quite drastic, but let’s do the same on the other side. What if the unthinkable and unrealistic happened, and a different leader was peacefully elected with a transition smoother than silk? I’m sure the next arab leader of Syria would uphold strong principles under intense pressure for the sake of their country and people, without looking to their personal interests. I mean, there are plenty of examples of this, for instance there’s ….., and there’s ….. ….. yeah right.

Well, how about we keep President Bashar for a moment, but tell him how he could better do his job. Normally, you might think this a difficult task, given that we are not privvy to the vast, various and confidential sources of information the he bases his decisions off, but let’s just ignore that.

So the question becomes, how can he turn his country into a democracy, allow open criticism of the regime, appease the West into removing sanctions so that economy and jobs can receive a boost, and still guarantee the safety and security of his people, and the stability of the country?

If you can answer this, please include how the situation with Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel should be dealt with to avoid strife in the country while still protecting the rights of the people.
Also, please mention how he can avoid turning into another Lebanon, with the country full of foreign spies in a position to cause division and instability.

Nevermind though that the President is actively improving relations with various countries not only for political support, but for trade opportunities for his people. Also, just ignore the beneficial changes that have happened for the country over the years, and just focus on the problems in such a way that would call for the overthrow of the government, or putting the country in danger of instability and civil war. Because everywhere else is perfect right?

In closing, yes there are problems, and yes criticism of government is normally a natural right. However, the purpose of criticism is to cause a change for the better. When the criticism puts the country and people in danger, then it goes against the entire point and purpose of criticising.

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February 3rd, 2011, 9:34 pm

 

35. Enlightened said:

There will be NO “Day of Rage” in Syria, there are no similarities between the The Governments of Syria and Egypt (Other than what we here in the West).

And I hate to go there but here it is, “Hama is still in the minds of the majority of Syrians”. If I was a Syrian Activist at the moment I would wait till Egypt falls and it will, if the most populous country in the Mid East falls to Demeocracy, I will gladly ask any Zionist to parade the term ‘ We are the only Democracy in the Middle East”.

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February 4th, 2011, 6:08 am

 

36. shame said:

the dectator will fall
#1 his deal with Israel has beem exposed since sharon called bush to make him change his mind of invading syria so we all know that assad is very important to keep israel safe ,,the rest of syria know
#2 his bigest frend Iran will fall soon after the US invasion if the embargo didnot work
#3 after what happened in cairo and if things changed, soon the resetant to the nazy police estate in syria will pick up speed and expose assad gangs for the mass killing of syrians since 1963
#4 I dont understand why anyone will think that this mafia of makhloof shoket and assad will last for ever read the history Ex romania tunisia iraq phlipin soon yamen and algeria
#5 I chlenge you and everyone who loves assad make count of all the
humans that assad killed since 1963 and compare it with the total syrians killed by israiel …… yes thats your answer

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February 4th, 2011, 8:21 pm

 

37. Mideast Process: Good Advice, Wrong Time « Justrecently's Weblog said:

[…] Khamenei: Events “echo Voice of Iranian Nation”, IRNA, Febr 4, 2011 Will “Day of Rage” Rock Syria, Syria Comment, Febr 2, 2011 London: a Flurry of “Justice”, December 11, 2009 Wen in […]

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February 12th, 2011, 5:07 am

 

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