Bashar ElSbihi Clarifies

Bashar al-Sba’i (ElSbihi), the opposition figure about whom I wrote last week, has written to explain that he did not “come to an understanding with the Syrian government” before returning home. I am copying his full letter below with his permission. I hope also to publish his analysis of the changes Syria is going through and what role individual Syrians can play in bringing about further change. I am grateful for the opportunity to publish this clarification. Bashar Elsbihi writes:

Dear Joshua,

I read your August 1st, post regarding my return home to Syria from the U.S. A friend sent it to me via e-mail, and I was a bit surprised at a couple of assumptions on your part. However, I’m glad to have the chance to clear those points of views and the set the record straight to your readers.

In your post you stated that I, “must have negotiated a deal with the Syrian government to go home a short time ago”, yet the truth I did not. In fact going back was the last thing on my mind.

The reality of my decision, of which you made clear, that I totally lost faith in Middle-Eastern politics in general and the Syrian Opposition in particular; for many reasons chief among them is the Syrian Opposition lack of vision and leadership. As you know, my work in TV has given me a totally new perspective on politics and politicians and a great incentive to leave politics altogether, therefore I issued my April 19, 2009 declaration of which I stated my exact reasons for leaving all forms of organized political work.

My return home did not have any pre-negotiated deal. I simply asked the appropriate authorities through private channel if there would be any issues upon my return home and the answer came back is none. What I found most fascinating about this whole affair is the level of change in the perspective and work methods of the infamous Syrian Security apparatuses of which people feared and loathed for years. Some of your readers may think this is an exaggeration or simply my case was an exception to the rule because of my family status in the country, however I will be writing in details about this at a later time to explain the internal changing dynamics that have taken place in the country since President Bashar Al-Assad took over from his father.

The other note I would like to correct is your comment about me apologizing for my work in the opposition. Actually I never did. What I stated was that I simply have read things “wrongly” while I was in the opposition and I made that very clear in my April 19 declaration. I still believe in the need for multi-party system in Syria and the benefits such a system would reap from a viable opposition in the country; especially in today’s Syria where the monopoly the Ba’ath Party enjoys today have become a burden on the current government and its future plans for an expanding and thriving economy in Syria. However I believe this change must be home-grown and worked out on the local level and free from foreign political pressure.

These are the two points I wanted to clarify and I will be expanding on them in my future writings as I’m still enjoying my birth place with all its fascinating history traditions. I’m actually trying to visit as many places around the country as possible and will be writing a great deal about my impressions.

Finally, I totally agree with your statement that authoritarianism in the Middle-East is back, however, it’s a new and an upgraded type of authoritarianism that has proved to be much more effective at keeping the peace and stability which the West and America could not bring into the region with their democracy promotion methods. I’ll also be expanding on this point in the near future.

Bashar Elsbihi

Comments (6)

John Mahmood said:

They must have paid for his airline ticket, what a disgrace!

August 9th, 2009, 3:48 pm


Rudayn said:

This sounds promising. When and where is Mr. Elsbini planning to write to expand more on the points he mentioned in his letter?

August 9th, 2009, 6:30 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dear Bashar Elsbihi,

“Multi-party system” equals “Democracy”. So why not call the child his
name (as we say in Hebrew).
Few months ago, I heard President Asad expressing similar ideas:
that the Americans do not understand, and that the “western” style
of democracy will not serve Syria well.
Now I hear this from you.
Both of you (the president and you) did not explain why, and did not
elaborate about the style, you think will suit Syria.
I can only speculate, that you’re worried that sectarian, religious and political tensions will
break open, so better keep it suppressed under “authoritarianism”.
(but this is just me, speculating).

I wish I could understand more. I wish I could understand what you
really want, because, both your letter and your 19 of April statement
(thank you Google translate) are vague and ambiguous.

August 10th, 2009, 3:04 am


robinson said:

“What I found most fascinating about this whole affair is the level of change in the perspective and work methods of the infamous Syrian Security apparatuses of which people feared and loathed for years.”

Huh. Well, I’ve been in and out of Syria since 2005 for roughly 14 months cumulatively. In my opinion, somebody forgot to tell the majority of Syrians about this change in “perspective and work methods” of the security apparatus.

I would say the, “say you’re a rabbit!” mentality still exists to a large degree.

August 10th, 2009, 5:55 pm


Atassi said:

Mr. Elsbini
It’s good to hear you are in Syria spending time with your family, I just got back form syria and I had a good time too with my family,
Please keep in mind, many exiled Syrians STILL Can NOT enjoy what you are describing in the post because they don’t have access to this kind of private channel or this kind of guarantees to let them come back home.
I hope this matter will be fixed one day and many of our exiled Syrians would return home…Syria has special and wonderful place in every Syrian mind and sole

August 13th, 2009, 7:18 pm


trustquest said:

Atassi, come to rethink of what he did I start to having different take and may be, only may be, he did something called penetration.
I think the guy achieved a land mark penetration to the security system in Syria and it could be used as new tool to deal with them. If they want you to make a statement, do it and back off, it will render them helpless after a while. Oppositions has tried all slogans and nothing worked, like: you need us for survival, we all have stake in this nation, we hate you and we have the right to say that, it is time for change, stop treating us like a rats we will let the world know, all4syria, and nothing worked.

The guy stripped and exposed the regime for 5 years in the interviews he made on, then made a deal with them, got his ticket to see his family after 28 years (worth it of course), when he heard the spectators mouthing him, he came back again correcting the spoilers and denying that he surrendered. When he will get to the US, don’t be surprise if he starts stripping them again. He reminds me with the Israeli reporter who penetrated the security system and went to the bombed site two years ago.

August 14th, 2009, 12:27 am


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