"Why Don't Arab Dictators Declare Themselves Kings?" by Ehsani - Syria Comment

“Why Don’t Arab Dictators Declare Themselves Kings?” by Ehsani

"Why Don't Arab Dictators Declare Themselves Kings?"
Ehsani
April 15, 2007

Of the current 22 members of the Arab League, one can argue that the leaders of 14 have it harder than the other eight. I am referring of course to the form of government that these leaders inherited, usually from their colonial masters. The lucky eight inherited or built monarchies, either quasi-constitutional or absolute. Who are the lucky eight — Morocco, Jordan and the six nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The unlucky 14 were bequeathed or transformed themselves into republics, either presidential or parliamentarian. Libya’s Qaddafi was the most innovative. His unique “Jamahirriya” has been successful in permitting him to hold power largely unchallenged since his coup in 1969.

Jordan's quasi-constitutional monarchical system allowed King Hussein to bequeath his son the crown following his death in 1999. In Bahrain, there was little fanfare as the Emir of that tiny monarchy passed the throne to his son after he passed away. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Al-Sauds have it just as easy. Armed with their inherited mode of governing, opposition figures can only watch as the throne is passed from father to son or from one brother to another.

Life is not as simple for the Presidential Republics.

In contrast, when Hafez Assad decided to pick his son Bashar as successor, it was hard for people to comprehend how a presidential republic would allow for one family to monopolize power.

Indeed, those that were dismayed have reason to be. Among current world leaders, only four succeeded their fathers. In DR Congo (Zaire), Joseph Kabila succeeded the assassinated Laurent Kabila. In Togo, Faure Gnassingbe succeeded Gnassingbe Eyadema. In North Korea, Kim Jong Il succeeded Kim Chong-il. It is not easy to inheret power from your father if you live in a republic, but it can be done.

This leads us to ask if any of the non-monarchies in the Arab World are true Republics?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a republic as a state in which supreme power rests in the people and their elected representatives or officers. This popular sovereignty stands in stark contrast to monarchies, in which sovereignty in invested in the king.

In 2005, three Arab nations elected their representatives by national elections: These were Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Syria’s example of handing the presidency from father to son has provided a precedent for the remaining 11 nations. The leaders of both Egypt and Libya are looking for ways to hand power over to their sons. Thus far, however, only Syria has pulled the trigger. Given that none of the remaining eleven republics behave as such, their populace seem to be subjected to a charade of fake and silly election cycles that constantly insult their intelligence. Syria’s version of this charade will be on full display during this election season.

The republics of the Arab world are republics in name only. Behind the walls of their presidential palaces, leaders conduct affairs much as their monarchical brothers do. They do not intend to surrender power. Only military coups or U.S. marines can unseat them. Talk of political reform and free elections is just a lip service. In reality, none of the leaders of the eleven republics is likely to surrender power without a fight. Opposition members seem to think that they will succeed in dictating a different outcome. One can only admire the courage of the present crop of reformers and liberals in the Middle East who fight against the region’s current dictators, nevertheless, one cannot be optimistic about their cause. They are fighting a losing battle. The recent experience of Iraq has made it a taboo for opposition members to seek foreign help in fighting their rulers. What is more, Middle Eastern leaders have learnt how to coup proof their regimes, making it next to impossible for military officers to plot their overthrow. The safety measures taken by regional leaders combined with America's failure in Iraq has made it practically impossible to unseat them. The Arab masses have come to view maintaining order and national security as their primary concern. This is the one thing that their dictators can claim to do very well.

This writer has an easy solution that can make our lives much easier:

Why don’t the Arab republics convert to monarchs and put us all out of our
misery?

Comments (57)


Fares said:

Ehsani, I am impressed, nice writing. You forgot Yemen. The reason only Syria have done it is that all the other leaders are still alive but their sons who don’t seek the presedency but won’t run away from their duty to serve the people if asked to by the people (Bashar in 99: Ana La Ass3a ila ay mansab Laken La ataharab min ai masoolie) that is as straight as you can have it. Then you have comical Kadhafi who begged Saleh of Yemen not to dissapoint his people and run again….

But you forgot that Baathis Syria views kingdoms and monarches as “Anzeme Raj3yye” not revolutionary…bottom line, they you want their leaders to be creative and not have it easy (ya right)!!!

April 16th, 2007, 4:36 am

 

Alex said:

Ehsani,

Very interesting post : )

While I am one of those who prefer to have stability and security over Iraqi and Lebanese style”Democracy”, I think America has a role to play in motivating (not leading or forcing) the region to take few calculated steps towards “democracy”.

We can’t have two difficult choices only: Dictatorships or instant Democracy.

Shame on all those in America who did not do their homework right when they prepared someone like Farid Ghadry to lead the Syrian people.

Helping the Middle East become more democratic is a very delicate process… we can not mix it with other objectives, like removing regimes which are less friendly to the US. And we can not tarnish the reputation of the United States and destroy the appeal that “Democracy” should have by a trial-and-error approach (first attempt?) like the one the U.S. took in Iraq.

April 16th, 2007, 6:32 am

 

Syrian said:

Ehsani2,

Did you forget the Syrian experiment with Monarchies. King Faisal ruled as king of Greater Syria from 1920-1920. 😉

April 16th, 2007, 6:33 am

 

Enlightened said:

Hi all!

Ive been away for a little while and have come back to this post!

I can see the inherent frustration, and sarcasm in Ehsanis tone here. My first question to Ehsani would be “would you think that given the spate of failed dictatorships in the region, that the question you posed would work”?

Would we be replacing dictatorship for monarchies that would prove equally as bad or perhaps worse? I think the best solution might be for multi party democracy (non sectaraian of course).

Have read all previous threads, I am highly surprised that scant attention is being paid on this blog to the upcoming Syrian elections. Everyone has been largely silent on this issue. Why?

April 16th, 2007, 6:52 am

 

Mo said:

Ehsani,

I am not convinced, can you just answer the fundamental question: why is this being done?? Is it mere egoism? Do they need to secure a ‘bright future’ for their son(s)? More money perhaps??

I don’t think so, on the contrary, being a president is a risky business these days: do you think Saddam enjoyed the scene of the bodies of his 2 sons on public display? hmmm…
In the case of Syria to say the least, I believe many more variables were at play there: most of the Arab countries in the post-colonial era are still in a transitional phase; and a smooth, stable regime guarantee order, security, and yes, even prospects for economic development.
Appointing a son, brother, cousin, friend, or anybody else is not the issue: preserving the form of government and building on top of what has been built so far is much better than rebuilding from level 0!
You should also know that any political transition, even in the West, has to be secured by a governmental Institution (capital I) to prevent chaos and anarchy. For Syria, these institutions are the “moukhabarat” (the security services) and the army, which happen to be tied to the Baath (I am not discussing democracy here). Any attempt at dismantling these will definitely lead to a collapse of the country itself. Who nominated Bashar for president? Now you know!
What do you think?

April 16th, 2007, 6:56 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Interesting post. However in Europe are kings in GB, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. All of those are real democracies. Hmmmm Ehsani2.

Who is responsible of making Middle East democratic? The U.S. Marines? The only force which can transform Middle Eastern countries to real democracies are the people of those countries. The so called opposition “leaders” located in USA and financed by Pentagon do not bring the change. Well a change to worse, we could see it in Iraq.

We come to the issue of USA’s role in bringing democracy to Middle East? Is there really any historical proof that USA has done it? USA (both of its “democracy’s” parties regimes) have supported totalitarian regimes by training the secret services and providing arms to ruling establishment so long the raw materials keep flowing with out troubles and trades are made in dollars.

The fastest way Middle East would become more democratic would be fast economical development besides that, that the outside forces would limit their interference. A large educated middle class would not tolerate a harsh totalitarian regime, by kings or one party “systems”. Also a process to create an EU like political, economical and military union would most certainly strengthen the democratic elements in all Arab countries. But such a strong union is the USA’s and Israel’s worst nightmare. What they want is a huge amount of weak tribal nation-states, which would mostly fight against each other. We all can see proof of that dividing policy in the news daily.

In 2005, three Arab nations elected their representatives by national elections: These were Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Did USA like the results of those elections? Mostly not. In Iraq’s elections USA financed without shame massively its candidates and after elections the the chief negotiator in forming the new government was the US ambassador. Palestine’s elections result totally “wrong” for USA. These events are the most “strangest” encouragement of democracy the world has seen for a long time.

Only military coups or U.S. marines can unseat them.

Well, U.S. Marines have not created a single democracy. U.S.Marines and CIA have managed to destroy several developing democracies and organize numerous military coups. Actually the democratic leaders are those who should be more afraid of “U.S.Marines” than “loyal” dictators and kings.

April 16th, 2007, 8:33 am

 

youngsyria said:

i think we are unable to make progress (make another step in our long way ) because Syrians don’t share a common vision (each Syrian has his unique image of his ideal Syria). worst, they cant work together.

thats why its so hard for Syrians to get involve in something constructive. even in this blog, Syrians comments are far from suggesting any solutions.

if we are today in point A, I bet that if we agree on point B ,no matter how hard it is to achieve, we can do it (reverse-engineering?!). maybe the first thing to do is to figure out how to bring together this dismantled society .

April 16th, 2007, 8:58 am

 

ausamaa said:

Dismantled Society ?!!!Give me a break.

April 16th, 2007, 12:24 pm

 

Sienna Fernandes-Hansen said:

Nice post. Unfortunately, for the arabs, I am reminded of a quote:

“An enlightened people, and an energetic public opinion… will control and enchain the aristocratic spirit of the government.” –Thomas Jefferson to Chevalier de Ouis, 1814. ME 14:130

April 16th, 2007, 12:41 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

the important thing, is that we have freedom, no corruption,responsible and just legal system , all people are equal, at that time I do not mind if the president becomes a king

April 16th, 2007, 1:40 pm

 

Atassi said:

Ehsani,
And excellent post. I would hope that Bashar would not listen to you and become KING as part of the 2007 referendum 

It’s by now a weak and mute point to keep on shoving and blaming the failed US policy in Iraq to prevent and discourage EHSANI and other the true democratic values advocate. It’s a known fact that the U.S. Marines and CIA don’t create democratic states outside the US, They Defend the established order of the US citizenship. They can do that by creating mayhem somewhere else, the same tactics used by Syrian regime in meddling in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian affaires as a deterrent to preserve the regime.
I strongly agree that returns of the previously crashed educated middle class, the rebirth of ignorance free civil societies and I think the most important one would be the return of healthy and less corrupted economical developments can force the establishments of a healthy state . Please keep in mind too, The Assad’s have an Absolute Power and they will never give this power back to the Republic.

April 16th, 2007, 2:21 pm

 

Syrian said:

Atassi,

Please define what you mean by “Absolute Power”. What is this power being used for and what is the motivation for hoarding it??

April 16th, 2007, 2:26 pm

 

FOOBARD said:

The key to any democracy is that when governments change hands, they do so peacefully through elections and without sectarian or political bloodshed. Have we seen such a transfer of power from one government to another in the Arab states since 1920? No.

The authoritarian stance of most Arab republics is predicated on stability. First, that the Arabs were too uncivilized to govern themselves or to transform governments through elections peacefully as espoused by France and Britain after WWI. And more recently to prevent the rise of so-called Islamic republics throughout the region. These justifications were made by Europe, it’s colonial outpost, Israel, and the U.S. However, these justifications have also been embraced by Arab governments and their people. I have heard this time and again in the media, in academia, in political circles and from the Arab Street.

I still don’t understand why the people in the region have not yet insisted on democracy. I thought I saw a trend toward it in the ’90s, but 9/11 stopped it dead in its tracks. And isn’t that the story of democracy in the Middle East — one of your own fucking it all up. You guys make imperialism easy.

As long as people of the region buy that logic, as long as they trust in themselves only, and not their neighbors, they will be controlled by the designs of others, whether its imperialists or their own authoritarian governments. Which raises the question — why don’t the people in the region trust each other to govern democratically? The Middle East is more of a global melting pot of peoples than the U.S. will ever be. Were the Europeans right? And if so, why? Are the Arabs really unfit for democracy? Or just the Muslims?

April 16th, 2007, 3:15 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Syrian,

Is this a trick question?

Absolute Power is defined as governing “unlimited by a constitution or the concurrent authority of a parliament”.

If you had the chance to exercise absolute power without having to answer to anyone else, why wouldn’t you not choose to do so?

Historically, absolute power has been used by kings and monarchs. When presidential republics also choose to govern based on these same principals, the lines between monarchies and republics get blurred, hence the logic of my post.

April 16th, 2007, 3:21 pm

 

bashmann said:

Ehsani, well said.
However, many in the Arab world have asked the same question over and over again in the past few decades. The opposition members also did yet many are still languishing in Syrian Jails because of their curious inquiries. It seems that the will of the masses that have been reluctant to rebell against those dictators have chosen stability and peace over chaoes. (Your Iraq case as an example is right-on). Cynicism is second nature in the ME.

Only when a true nationalist alternative appear on the political scene of any of these countries to lead a quiet but effectual campaign of change can those countries be changed. Unlike your pessimism, I do believe change will come, its only a matter of time.

April 16th, 2007, 3:48 pm

 

Syrian said:

Ehsani2,

Its not a trick question. The reason I asked is to clarify and avoid the perception of meaning unlimited absolute power, as in, the ruling elite is not concerned with the popular feeling regarding different areas of its own policies.

The second part of the question has more to do with looking into why Absolute Power (according to the definition you provided) becomes necessary at some stage of the social development. This type of power can be the result of either a long and bloody conflict after which a clear winner emerges (the absolute ruler), or through a more nuanced process of convincing other centers of power that it is necessary for them to surrender their powers (The current administration in the US succeeded in passing the Patriot Act which consolidates more power in the hands of the executive branch; Chavez in Venezuela is on his way to consolidate more powers using the same technique.)

At some point in time in Syrian History, ruling power was consolidated successfully by a combination of the two means listed above. In order for the Syrian situation to improve, that power must be diffused. The diffusion of power, in turn can take place through peaceful transitions which depends critically on the benign-ness of the dictator or, the ugly alternative of a bloody transfer of power which no one wants.

The second of these alternative is the more likely one if you had a situation where the dictator is only interested in holding and maintaining power for the sake of power. At this point, the survival of the regime trumps all other national concerns. The only possibility for recovering the power is a violent conflict which does not guarantee diffusion of power as an outcome; rather, it is more likely that what you would witness is a pure transfer of the absolute power from one agent to another.

In the first instance, the dictator is indeed benign and the consolidation of power is viewed as necessary in order to achieve higher level national interests. Once those interests are achieved, the benign dictator would then voluntarily start the process of diffusing the powers assigned to him and you can peacefully reach a democratically oriented outcome.

Which you believe to be the case in Syria is up to the individual wich might explain why public (at least around here) opinion is polarized regarding the status of the current government in Syria.

April 16th, 2007, 4:09 pm

 

Atassi said:

Thank you Ehsani,
Historically speaking when granting an absolute power to dictators “or presidents” it resulted in a long term lethal outcome for the people. No exception…
Syria’s dictator has been simplified and portrayed as the statuesque preserver, safe keeper and defenders of some short sighted sectarian groups, the backbone of the absolutely corrupted military and security institutions.
This statement was made by Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An observation that a person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases.

April 16th, 2007, 4:13 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

SimoHurtta said:

The fastest way Middle East would become more democratic would be fast economical development besides that, that the outside forces would limit their interference.

A good economy doesn’t necessarily translate into more democracy. It usually translates into lining the pockets of the Kings, Princes and the mafias close to the “President-for Life”.

No, the fastest way the ME would become more democratic is if the people demand it.

In 2005, three Arab nations elected their representatives by national elections: These were Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Did USA like the results of those elections? Mostly not.

Mostly yes. The US made the Iraqi elections possible no thanks to the Arab street. And the US has always backed the current Lebanese government despite the murder of crucial cabinet ministers.

So the only election the US didn’t like was the Palestinian election. And for good cause. The anti-semitic PA now does not recognize the state of Israel and has thus pushed the peace process back to square one.

April 16th, 2007, 4:16 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Syrian,

Of the scenarios that you listed, this one seems to be most relevant to today:

“the survival of the regime trumps all other national concerns. The only possibility for recovering the power is a violent conflict which does not guarantee diffusion of power as an outcome; rather, it is more likely that what you would witness is a pure transfer of the absolute power from one agent to another.”

The history of modern Syria has been consistent with the picture that you painted above. Were the present leadership to lose power, what are chances that whoever comes next will also revert to a version of absolute power?

The answer is, rather high.

Were a new leadership to emerge (i still maintain that this can only happen through a military coup or an armed conflict), chances are also high that they will hold on to the keys of the presidential palace with equal tenacity. One is likely to hear them say:

“If the Assads held on to power for x number of years, why should we accept to give it up after 7? Surely we need more time to undo what has been done before us”

Atassi,

Your observation that a “person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases” is very telling. My wife keeps reminding me of that every time I try to exercise (not very sucessfully I might add) whatever is left of that so-called power in my own household.

April 16th, 2007, 4:38 pm

 

Mo said:

No Atassi,

Syria’s dictator has been simplified and portrayed as the statuesque preserver, safe keeper and defenders of some short sighted sectarian groups, the backbone of the absolutely corrupted military and security institutions.

The backbone is still the Baath ideology: National Arabism. Adjusted many times to accomodate geopolitical changes, and to only fit Syria to an extent, it HAS lived the test of time (so far). The security and military institutions are the sole preservers of a secular state in Syria, and these are founded on the Baath ideology, not on sectarian groups. If there is a model I personally think could bring a form of democracy in Syria, that would be the Turkish style. Anything else would fail and result in chaos.

A national ideology (ironically Baathism) that any Syrian citizen could adhere to, even Kurds, and those of Turkish descent (no personal offense), is the only safeguard for a stable Syria. I am not employing propaganda, but history taught us that political movements (left or right, liberal or fanatic) have first to define a national identity before they can talk about anything else. Just remember the pre-Nasser so-called democracy in Syria: it revolved around 2 parties, one representing the Damascene and the other the Aleppine communities.
You could argue that the Baath pressured other political groups (the SSNP, and others), based on Syrian identity. Perhaps this is true, but believe me, in the 60s and 70s, and I take the risk to say even today, pan-arabism is still very-well rooted in Syrians’ minds.
Why? Because, pan-arabism does not cut the ties with the 1400 year-long history of Syria: namely political Islam, the geo-strategic backyard. It accepts the cultural, religious, linguistic root in “Arabic Islam” (which happens to comfort many Muslim citizens in Syria, in contrast to the SSNP), but is after all secular and liberal (remember I am talking about the ideology). Just a quick note, “Arabic Islam” does not include Turkey and Iran (a Sunni/Shia controversy).
In today’s political arena in Syria, the only strongly-present opposition to Baathism as an ideology (not regime) is ‘Islamism’. The latter means division, I am sorry to say (which sect represents Islam?? What about non-Muslims?). So have your pick!

I am not defending the current regime, and I am not discouraging ‘democracy-lovers’. But I believe pan-arabism is a good container, and change has to come from within. Turkey is an example, and history cannot be ignored!

April 16th, 2007, 5:25 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

After 10 consecutive 5-year economic plans, it seems that the admission is finally made that economic planners “cannot control prices in an open economy”.

http://thawra.alwehda.gov.sy/_View_news2.asp?FileName=31644971120070415225030

The comment at the end is rather telling

April 16th, 2007, 5:28 pm

 

Syrian said:

Ehsani2,

The paradox of the opposition is that they combine the rhetoric of a “regime interested only in its own survival” with the “peaceful means of change.” The two are not compatible. If you believe the first to be true then a call to armed struggle is the only consequence. However, a violent change is likely to result in the same regime with different faces at the top and the population is likely to ignore any calls for armed struggle that will only benefit those who are calling for it. Hence, inaction dominates society.

The people who are imprisoned cannot possibly believe that regime survival is the only concern of the authorities (if they did and they can see the impossibility of peaceful change, they wouldn’t bother asking for change.) They have to, in order to justify their actions, believe that a certain degree of responsiveness exists within the governing authorities.

I think your choice of scenarios is somewhat pessemistic as it leaves no room for any hope of improvement.

April 16th, 2007, 5:55 pm

 

tony said:

this guy is an idiot
they behave as kings already and you want to give a legimaty?
wake up and smill the coffee mate

April 16th, 2007, 6:11 pm

 

ugarit said:

From sources in Daily Star in Beirut, I was told that the paper made it clear (to staff) that it will not run stories on mistreatment and abuse of Syrian workers in Lebanon, nor on abuse of foreign domestic workers in Lebanon.

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/04/from-sources-in-daily-star-in-beirut-i.html

April 16th, 2007, 6:12 pm

 

Atassi said:

“The backbone is still the Baath ideology: National Arabism. Adjusted many times to accommodate geopolitical changes”

That was maybe the case during the birth of the Baath party and early on, It is not applicable nor not correct with the present rulers of Damascus.
As we all witnessed, The Baath party was used as tool to legitimize the ruling of Syria by a bandit of power thirsty military offices seeking to establish secular state with a National Arabism ideology tailored to attract the oppressed section of the Syrian society.
Let me assert it to you. The Baath you are chanting about, is dead my dear..

I agree with you pan-arabism can be a good container, I would start by limiting it to Pan-Syrian as a start

April 16th, 2007, 6:47 pm

 

bashmann said:

Mo makes a good point but still misses the target.
Since when “Pan-Arabism is a good container”!!!!
I thought that ideology died with the break-up of Unity with Egypt back in the early sixties!
You can hardly find any true believer in Pan-Arabism in Syria today.
In fact the impediment to the creation of a new true nationalist ideology today in Syria is Islamism not Pan-Arabism. Since Ba’athism has been exposed as a fraud in the last few decades, Islamism has benefited greatly from its demise and has recently started to creep back into the folds of every level of the Syrian societies. Even The young Predisent Assad seems to unashamedly cuddle the new re-emergence of the religious right .

April 16th, 2007, 7:14 pm

 

Observer said:

This is a sterile debate. There is no such thing as a Syrian identity. As we see today, every community is pulling the strings to enhance its position in the country. These artificial entities called Lebanon Syria Iraq Jordan and the gulf countries etc… will dissolve sooner or later into chaos; Wwether it is with republican or royal rule. Even Egypt presumably a genuine nation state has strived to make itself totally irrelevant in all aspects cultural political or social. If Ehsani knows and writes about economic issues he should know that the same can be said for many of these countries. Their economies and socio political status is a mess.
For a country to have any chance of improvement it has to give the following minimum guarantees: economic opportunity and its sine qua none bureaucratic freedom.
As for democracy, I live in the US and I see the relentless retreat on that front in many a Western democracy.
Democracy is a middle class mercantile system of goverment that allows for maximal facility from the institutions of goverment wihtout interference from the Pope or the King. The rest is smoke and mirrors.

April 16th, 2007, 8:09 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Observer,
I disagree, all the rest is hardly “smoke and mirrors’…. the issues at hand about how to have or to obtain a representative government or a democratic system are obviously enormously complex. Just the one very significant issue/point you bring up of the problem of identity…is a good example of this complexity. It certainly doesn’t just reduce to mercantilism and non-interference by the institutions of government (even in the US- there is always some role by the govt), and if this was all it took…. then I am sure Syria too could achieve it.

However, Ehsani’s post was very nice indeed and it generated some very interesting responses.
In particular it made me think a lot about why in fact there are predilections for Monarchs and Kings, and authoritarian rulers in general. It seems to me true that by the time a place like Syria has a succession from father to son and the type of closed system that it does, there is – yes- not much difference from being ruled by a monarch.
But I don’t think we can explain the people passivity about changing this ( of course I mean the larger population as a whole who are full of malaise about changing anything) as simply an expression of a desire for ‘security’ and ‘stability’.
I am not even sure I know what this means entirely beyond the extreme examples of – yes not wanting wars or invasions. These threats, of course, contribute to anxiety in the public and thus a willingness to stay with the status quo.
But there is more than that. People actually support the system by their lack of challenge and their lip service to it, their excuses for it.
And can we really explain their professed support for the presidency and the govt – as just ‘brainwashing’ as so many commentors have said in the past. I don’t think so.
People are not that brainwashed. Uneducated maybe. But still it seems there has to be more to account for such acceptance of the situation and unwillingness to stop being sheep and challenge the system.
And it is not just fear either. People all over the world have collectively waged challenges to their leaders and gov’ts and risked their lives. In syria when individuals challenge the system as single entities – of course they end up in prison. And so as an individual – alone- it makes perfect sense why people shy away from such brave actions.
But why why why is there such a lack of cohesive collective action – the force of collaborative collective challenges is not easily suppressed at all. But syrians cannot even get to step one with that.
And I for one – don’t know why this is – and would really like to know the answer.
I suspect there are many answers….to do with historical experiences that have led to a tendency to accept an oppressive system of leadership. Maybe it has to do with a cultural character of preferences for authoritarian structures throughout the society and in governing. And as- others have hinted at- there is a problem with a lack of identity that is a cohesive glue in the society….something that would allow the citizenry to take part in self governing in any way collectively.
I think there must be many social psychological reasons for such apathy and malaise and resignation, and this would include a high level of mistrust within the population bordering on paranoia. The people don’t see themselves as part of a collective who can rely on each other to govern and safeguard each others rights and benefits. It would seems that they feel more secure with one all powerful leader and oligarchy to whom they might be able to develope some benefit from through the old world structures of affiliation and wasta etc.. Is all of this a product of the oppressive structure? or simply why it is maintained….? probably both….

It is a sad state of affairs. And, unless these identity and social psychological issues are understood better and ultimately altered, as Ehsani mentioned in his comment – the likelihood is that it doesn’t matter whether the Assads are out tomorrow (this family, that family…etc….) the leadership would be replaced with equally hierarchical entities and equally unrepresentative forms governing. This would be so, because the problem isn’t the particular leaders…. the problem is the beliefs and mentality of the majority of the people – in terms of their whole experience and expectations about being governed and about power and entitlement… and social relationships, and human rights, and money, and work, and gender equality, and social responsibility for each other and for the land and city, and just about everything that you could come up with in the society.
Sticking a ballot in a box is very easy. It is what you expect from yourself and from the person you just elected that implies everything else. And probably to make one’s self responsible for governing and participating and for the future and for others in your society is fairly unappealing to a great many people. It is sooo much easier to just let the big daddy and then his son and all their cronies… be responsible for everything… and to be to blamed for everything…..

April 16th, 2007, 9:08 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

A good economy doesn’t necessarily translate into more democracy. It usually translates into lining the pockets of the Kings, Princes and the mafias close to the “President-for Life”.

Stop being an idiot Akbar. How can there be a good economy if it goes in the pockets of Kings. It is simply impossible logically. If the regime takes a to big share of the income there is not any more a good economy. Do you Akbar think that the Kings of Europe voluntarily gave their power to the “masses”. No they did not and U.S. Marines did not help the “masses”. When Europe became more wealthier and educated the people demanded more personal freedom. Simple as that.

By the way I read that USA uses 40 cents of a federal tax dollar for wars. The people do not like that and they punished King Bush II in the last elections.:)

And the US has always backed the current Lebanese government despite the murder of crucial cabinet ministers.

Yes indeed it backs. USA wants desperately Klieaat airbase. By the way Hariri opposed fiercely US/NATO bases in Lebanon. Hmmmm…

So the only election the US didn’t like was the Palestinian election. And for good cause. The anti-semitic PA now does not recognize the state of Israel and has thus pushed the peace process back to square one.

Most of the worlds other countries do not like US and Israeli regimes. But democracy means that winner rules the agreed period. International politics is not a teenager girls social game. One has to tolerate the will of the people if he calls himself a democrat.

Thus pushed the peace process back to square one. Are you joking Akbar. Israel has done NOTHING for the peace for decades. USA pushed by Arab countries, EU and Russia has forced Israel to take the steps, which Israel has spoiled with unbelievable childish excuses. Anti-semtic Palestinians. What an idiot. If your people have tortured and humiliated them for decades stealing their future, water and land, what in h… do you wait that they think about your Zionist movement. Lets start from the point that Israel first recognizes Palestine and its borders, then Palestinians parties have no trouble in recognizing Israel. How could they regonize one sided Israel if Israel doen’t regozie their country and is not able to say where the borders are. Nobody is so stupid that they one-sided give the cards to the other side. A civilized nation would do recognize first Palestine and then wait for Palestinians response. But sadly it seems that “civilized” is a word obviously missing from the Israeli dictionary. An interesting news about how Bedouin (by the way Israeli citizens) land is sprayed with chemicals. What a country, simply disgusting.

April 16th, 2007, 9:32 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Zanobia,

You raised a number of interesting points. In your struggle for answers, I think that you may have ignored the simpler explanations:

I do not share the opinion that Syria lacks an identity that can bind its people together.

I also do not believe that Syrians are genetically more resigned about their future than others. Let us not forget that some Syrians did take to the streets in the early 1980’s using the platform of the Moslem Brotherhood (thankfully they did not succeed).

Armed with emergency law measures and a clinically efficient internal security system, the leadership has physically and mentally defeated the opposition. The more the Syrian leadership holds on to power, the more the populace is beaten into submissions. Indeed, one of the things that you still constantly hear in the country is that “the leadership is in cahoots with the U.S.”. They say this because they cannot explain how their leaders can hold on to power against such a formidable set of challenges. It has been said that Syrians suffer from apathy and malaise. I respectfully disagree. One may have said the same about Iraqis during Saddam reign. Clearly, they don’t now. All of a sudden, when the heavy-handed security apparatus gave way, the populace saw the change and threw away their resigned demeanor. In Syria’s case, a fantastically organized security system armed with emergency laws has done the trick. I am yet to hear anyone articulate what it is that they expect the populace to do? How would you expect them to express their non-resignation? Which platform or venue are they expected to use? The fact is that they have none available to them. The system is air tight.

April 16th, 2007, 9:38 pm

 

Alex said:

Let’s study the 2004-2005 years and let’s look at Lebanon and Syria, not only Syria.

The Lebanese who used to demonstrate for Aoun during Hafez’s time were consistently less than 5000.

In 2005, over half a million Lebanese demonstrated against Syria.

Try to study that case and come up with the main reasons (there were more than one) that a 100 times more Lebanese were confident enough to demonstrate against the Syrian regime (or Syria).

I think you can not escape making some solid conclusions about what was going on in the minds and hearts of Syrians who never demonstrated against their authoritarian regime in large numbers.

April 16th, 2007, 10:00 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Ehsani,
I didn’t ignore a simpler explanation. I am rejecting it.
I am not trying to minimize the significance of the effectiveness and strength of the security apparatus. However, I guess my premise is that there is NO system that is ‘airtight’ and that if you have enough collective strength – anyt government or system can be challenged or overthrown. I mean Syria’s gov’t is hardly the most brutal gov’t on the globe nor the most mind- washing. Not even close.

But I think the problem is that there has to be a collective will for such an effort – that is clearly absent. And yes there have been efforts in the past – and certainly the intellectual brainpower for it, but something is missing that could lead to success.
One might conclude that the population is simply not discontent enough, but I also don’t think that explains it.

Let me clarify. I never said anything about anybody being ‘genetically’ anything…and i didn’t imply it either. I am expressly interested in a type of psycho-social interpretation of the problem. I am curious what social characteristics of this culture and society are contributing to an inability to have a desire for collective governing perhaps, and a inhibition to forming the kind of collective organizations of opposition that could effectively challenge the authority’s suppression of dissent.

I don’t know. I don’t have a well formed theory about it in my own mind. But certainly I do think the Syrians have some characteralogical idiosyncracies that distinquish them from other middle eastern social groups. I definitely don’t think you can compare them to the Iraqis. Iraqis make Syrians look like lambs. And Saddam makes the Assads look like our sweet uncle.
Just for amusement. ….. do you think if the US marines marched into Syria and overthrew the government… the citizenry would take to blowing themselves up… sacrificing themselves for the cause against the infidels…. and taking chainsaws to the guts of their countrymen or decapitating all who they felt were traitors conspiring with the enemy???
hmm… somehow….i just don’t see it…..

April 16th, 2007, 10:20 pm

 

K said:

Enlightened,

No one is talking about the elections because they are a joke. Even bringing them up in conversation is an insult to general intelligence.

In the words of As’ad AbuKhalil:

Waiting for the results of Syrian elections is like waiting for the results of a lottery draw with one ticket, and the only buyer is the maximum leader.

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2007/04/waiting-for-results-of-syrian-elections.html

April 16th, 2007, 10:44 pm

 

Fares said:

http://freesyria.wordpress.com/2007/04/16/latest-on-michel-kilo/

Alex, no need for you to accept Iraqi or Lebanese democracy, just accept basic human rights such as there is no need to draw world attention to arresting an old peaceful journalist.

I expect more pressure from a regime die hard supporter such as yourself or Syria comment when they hold a person hostage for 11 months, specially that you initially criticized and continue to criticize his detention.

Why not shut down Creative Syria for a week as a sign of protest???
I know I am talking to deaf ears here but you and people who hold similar political views are morally responsible for his arrest. Just like the Christian ultra right wing in the US are responsible for supporting the Iraq invasion and supporting Israel.

April 16th, 2007, 11:08 pm

 

Zenobia said:

ok…well…more thoughts already…..
on the subject of IDENTITY.
yes,
Syrians do have a sense of identity that binds them together as a society. I guess the question is …: does that identity or identities serve the cause of moving toward collective governing or sovereignty lying with the citizenry.
I fear not.
I see part of the problem is that the syrian identity may have nothing to do with an investment in the social contract or collective responsibility.

I am not sure about the direct connection but I will pull out an observation made by ‘Foosbard’ above that I think relates to what I am thinking about.

Foobard said: As long as people of the region buy that logic, as long as they trust in themselves only, and not their neighbors, they will be controlled by the designs of others, whether its imperialists or their own authoritarian governments. Which raises the question — why don’t the people in the region trust each other to govern democratically?

Now, he is referring to the mistrust between peoples of the whole region too, but I think it is all of a piece. I mean the heart of it – is that Syrians really don’t trust each other as citizenry to work together at governing. This is what I suspect anyway.
I believe that this is partly a product of the social organization of the society again.
for example, what I see is that the identities that Syrians hold tight to are ones related to their religious affiliations, and class affiliations. The whole society is terrifically stratified.

And before anyone jumps on me for the fact that this is true for a million societies around the globe – I am just going to make my point further. yes, this is true, as it is even in America. but the difference is that no matter how stratified american society is … and as well, incredibly heterogeneous, this does not preclude most members of the society from feeling a very solid and primary identity as ‘american’-
and this ‘americaness’ includes feeling that you are part of a responsible citizenry.. at least to some degree….

However, I will hypothesize that Syrians inside Syria – spend a lot more time feeling their identity to be about what status they have in their society, what area they live in, who they know, who their family is, and who they married. They are obsessed with this kind of thing!
And this may sound like a petty analysis….but really…I am going to put myself out there and say that – even this preoccupation with social position is a huge impediment to a collective identity as whole society of citizenry with equal significance and therefore equal concern and responsibility for each other. People are too busy scraping and scratching their way “up” and through.

So what does all this have to do with ….identities that support representative government and power resting with the people. People have to be invested in a SHARED identity. perhaps…a middle class would help, obviously…..

I also thought that MO was getting at something like this idea, even though he invoked the ‘arabism’ notion that drives some people wild.
I quote him:
MO said: I am not employing propaganda, but history taught us that political movements (left or right, liberal or fanatic) have first to define a national identity before they can talk about anything else. Just remember the pre-Nasser so-called democracy in Syria: it revolved around 2 parties, one representing the Damascene and the other the Aleppine communities.
You could argue that the Baath pressured other political groups (the SSNP, and others), based on Syrian identity. Perhaps this is true, but believe me, in the 60s and 70s, and I take the risk to say even today, pan-arabism is still very-well rooted in Syrians’ minds.
Why? Because, pan-arabism does not cut the ties with the 1400 year-long history of Syria: namely political Islam, the geo-strategic backyard. It accepts the cultural, religious, linguistic root in “Arabic Islam” (which happens to comfort many Muslim citizens in Syria, in contrast to the SSNP), but is after all secular and liberal (remember I am talking about the ideology).

I think he is right. Arabism is still rooted in there in the minds of Syrians.
And so, even if this philosophy needs to be morphed into something else or transformed or modernized or whatever… it is still something powerful…. that binds and doesn’t impose a fake construct… ignoring history…and ignoring the collective obsession with blood and tribal connections.
We just need to make the tribe big enough that it includes the whole country!!!

April 16th, 2007, 11:25 pm

 
 

EHSANI2 said:

Fares,

When I read the article below, I remember being rather shocked that a Syrian would dare take on a topic as explosive as this. If I recall correctly, Mr. Kilo was arrested almost immediately after the article was published. The consensus opinion of course is that he was arrested as a result of the Beirut-Damascus declaration. My suspicion is that this article was thought to be a step too far.

http://www.metransparent.com/texts/michel_kilo_syria_death_notices.htm

April 16th, 2007, 11:47 pm

 

Fares said:

Ehsani, even though the article might have red lines in the regime eyes, does not mean that the article deservers any arrest, you being shocked does not mean the guy should be in jail. You either approve personal and intellectual freedom or stop acting like a civilized person while approving everything the regime does.

April 16th, 2007, 11:59 pm

 

Fares said:

Plus I don’t remember this article causing any trouble, a warning would have been enough.

April 17th, 2007, 12:01 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

“You either approve personal and intellectual freedom or stop acting like a civilized person while approving everything the regime does.”

Fares,

You just cannot help yourself. You think that you hold the morale high ground over the rest of us? Who do you think you are? Your attitude leaves a lot to be desired.

No sane person condones having someone arrested for writing an article. Do you think that it is only You that knows this?

This is not Norway. Mr. Kilo must have known that he was crossing a red line when he wrote this article.

April 17th, 2007, 12:13 am

 

Fares said:

ok, so leave him in jail then accuse me of holding moral high ground. You are mocking the arab presidents but can’t even say that the guy should be released, instead you are saying he caused his own arrest and Syria is not Norway. You are simply a HYPOCRYTE.

April 17th, 2007, 12:18 am

 

Fares said:

It is funny how Alex thinks Syria is not Sweeden and you think that Syria is not Norway, are you guys twins by any chance? and why the Syrian Christians who play along with Regime lines are not capable of distinguishing themselves…they are just marionettes who repeat what is needed to be heard from them.

April 17th, 2007, 12:24 am

 
 

trustquest said:

This is my 2 cent,
Sorry to disappoint all by saying the reason behind everything is money, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, let’s see:
I thought that Ehsani is trying to come up with a solution to the opposition and to the county to adjust the appalling track in the country. What he suggesting is that if we advocate the call to place Bashar as a king (which is funny because the regime will not buy it, the current situation is better suited for him), we can save the country from the big theft which is currently taking place. I respect Ehsani understanding of the big theft occurring and the scale and the results on the future of the country. I think Ehansi knows that: if someone or group of people can make from one company, example Rami Makhloof, $50 millions/year from Syria Tel, and can invest this money in Syria (in a country where the largest merchant can dream of $200 thousands profit a year), that this one or person or group can with this number buy the country in 30 years, just run the numbers. Rate of return 20%, on thirty years with $100 millions and you will end up with staggering amount of money. I have run these numbers in the attached table.

Years 30
Rate of return 20.0%
Initial investment $100,000,000.00
Annual investments $100,000.00
Inflation rate 3.10%
Tax rate 10.0%
Show actual values? yes
Adjust annual investment for inflation? no
Show all values after inflation? no

Results Summary
Compounded interest return $13,779,025,706.77
Simple interest return $548,370,000.00
Total invested capital $103,000,000.00
Investment final total $14,430,395,706.77

In the above example, if investment is 100 billions, the results is 14 Trillion, nice isn’t.

April 17th, 2007, 12:43 am

 

trustquest said:

second part:
Now imaging that the young man Rami, used his uncle and his father and others money and put them together for investment. His unlce $5 billion and 10 from here and another 10 from there. Run the number in the table for $100 billions and you will know how you can own a country. The number is astounding. Do not get me wrong, I think the guy is a genius using those combinations of power and money? Isn’t he great? . But still really bad and devastating for the future of the country, because country with economy in the hands of view will never prosper, it is worse than colonial time. That is my humble view, hope I’m wrong.
In the natural setting where the class compromised of all clans from different parts of the country, the bourgeoisie class will represents assortment of powers and diversity of places where the economy will spread all over the country as a whole and will create the base for competition between factions and the country consequently complete with the surrounding countries. In a centralized dictatorship with family and sect connection and with the elimination or abating all other civil and public institutions and government departments to serve only the elite from one sect, the situation is terrible even with the good intension of the dictator and the cooperating officials. Last month case of the widening of the Faisal Street was one example. The public in Syria is witnessing a retreat after retreat on all fronts and there is not stop.
The following quotation is from a fine immigrant who could read the current economic situation in Syria he wrote: “There is a very strong movement towards creating a monopolizing neo-bourgeoisie class that owns the Syrian economy and that tightly knit with the high heads, and that goes way more further than normal simple corruption, they’re not stealing money, they’re owning the economy… those who control the economy wont even need a dictatorship.”
I would like to add to the previous statement that the new fallacious bourgeoisie class is not natural and dose represent real class as it represents a clan and here is the danger.
Current investment laws does not allow for people to be on the same plain field, they have to use the influence of the strong people in the regime to advance their case. Most of issued decrees and laws which been issued to aid investment is designed to do the contrary. I do hope for the country better times however the current forces of the economic live in the country is not promising and people are living on hope of change.

April 17th, 2007, 12:43 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Trsutquest,

WOW!!

You have nailed it Sir. This was going to be my part ii after the introduction of this post. You stole my thunder and did it in style.

I still plan to expand on your theme in the near future.

Syria has been bought up. The trend is likely to continue. Every cent outside the country is being followed. The only way to go under the radar screen is buy the country itself with the money.
Real estate was first. Millions of acres were snapped. Now, it is industry. Tourism is next. More to come.

Fares,

Of course the guy should be released. Which idiot thinks that he should stay in jail for writing a bloody article?

What you and I think is irrelevant. We are not in charge of conducting policy. We are not in charge of running the country.

The Assads did not just wake up one day and decide to throw opposition figures in jail. This has been a consistent trend. Dissent has never been taken lightly.

I will say it again:

Mr. Kilo could not have been shocked when he was arrested after writing this article.

Is it right? No. Is it undemocratic? Yes. Will it stop? No

April 17th, 2007, 12:53 am

 

Fares said:

Sounds like Alex talking….

April 17th, 2007, 12:58 am

 

Fares said:

But I accept that you want the guy released…so please apply more pressure.

April 17th, 2007, 12:59 am

 

Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

My brother in law, an Egyptian (Sunni), always told me (he now lives in Brazil): The Middle East is the only region in the world where you can’t find former presidents.
They are either dead, or still in power!

He is right!

April 17th, 2007, 1:42 am

 

DB said:

Well, Amschel Mayer (Rothschild) used to say: “Give me control of a nation’s money, and I care not who makes the laws”.

I think Rami Makhloof is on his way of becoming the next Syrian Rothschild (the Hariris beat him to it in Lebanon though).

In the end: Democracy as practiced in the West != freely choosing everyone in the gov. including the president, but more like

democracy = freedom of speech + due process + low corruption + strong economic prospects.

I believe most Arabs mistake this democracy (the source of ‘happiness’ in the West) with the former definition (free elections).

I’ll take a benign and constructive dictatorship over a failed democracy any day of the week. Thank you very much (the UAE is somewhat on that path).

April 17th, 2007, 2:04 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Fares said:

Just like the Christian ultra right wing in the US are responsible for supporting the Iraq invasion and supporting Israel.

The US Congress is responsible for supporting the Iraq invasion.

Because Saddam Hussein disregarded 17 UNSC resolution over 12 years.

The last UNSC resolution, 1441, was unanimously passed by all 16 countries on the security council including (you guessed it) Syria.

I think after Saddam Hussein’s illustrious “leadership” of Iraq and after 9-11, there comes a time when you have to put responsibility where it belongs.

Another example is the kidnapped BBC reporter. Check out the BBC website. Read all the comments about the plight of the poor Palestinians, the great work the BBC reporter conducted over the years bringing to light the conditions of the Palestinians, etc, etc, on and on.

When will the Arab Street and those that are blackmailed by Arab terrorism finally put the blame squarely at the feet of those responsible? Some Palestinian terrorist kidnapped Alan Johnston, and someone should bring this terrorist to justice. What punishment did the Iranians get for kidnapping British servicemen and women?

(That’ll be the day)

Here are some nauseating pleas from the BBC website:

To Alan’s captors: Please release this man, his family do not deserve this. With your compassionate behavior comes greater goodwill towards your people.

He was reporting to the world the plight of the people in this region. It makes no sense to the people from Gaza, the West and the whole world why he was taken .

My plea to his abducters in that: Alan is a fine,devoted and courageous journalist with an extraordinary sense of empathy for the palestinean course.

He has lived and worked amongst Palestinians for so long. I beg you to release him. Hurting him serves no purpose. To hurt him is to hurt everyone – including you, your cause and your beliefs. Alan is a good man, a brave man. He is not in Palestine to hurt you.

To the kidnappers, please remember Alan is on your side: he lived amongst you and your home became his home.
Killing him will serve no purpose except turn the world against you. Remember there are many of us around the who sympathise with your plight.

Alan is a friend of the Palestinians, don’t allow one of your minorities to take him away from not only his family and friends but you yourselves.

I wish the BBC showed a similar effort when Israelis get kidnapped or terrorized.

April 17th, 2007, 2:12 am

 

norman said:

A dctatership like the one Spain had during Franco brought prosperity and democracy to Spain so can a constructive dictatership that Syria seems moving toward.

April 17th, 2007, 2:36 am

 

Alex said:

Here is Part I of Jihad Elkhazen’s Interview with President Assad last week in Damascus (part II tomorrow, it covers Lebanon)

Joshua, I’ll leave it to you to translate it (and part II tomorrow) if you like.

I think Jihad asked all the questions we had here on Syria Comment after the Arab summit and Bashar gave clear answers.

عيون وآذان (“جيدة وطبيعية”)
جهاد الخازن الحياة – 17/04/07//

الرئيس بشار الأسد يقول إن الولايات المتحدة فشلت في العراق، وحان الوقت لتأخذ برأي الذين حذروها منذ البداية من هذه النتيجة.

وهو يقول أيضاً إن هناك اتصالات لا تكاد تتوقف من وسطاء لبدء مفاوضات جديدة بين سورية وإسرائيل، والموقف العربي معلن ومعروف فلا تنازل عن شبر من الأرض، ولا مفاوضات، قبل ان تقر إسرائيل بمبدأ انسحاب كامل من الجولان المحتل.

رأيت الرئيس السوري في مكتب خاص له في وسط جبل قاسيون، في جلسة استمرت حوالى ساعتين، وتناول حديثنا القضايا المطروحة كلها من الولايات المتحدة والعراق إلى إسرائيل والفلسطينيين، ولبنان والعلاقات العربية – العربية.

الدكتور بشار بدا مرتاحاً للقمة العربية ونتائجها، وقال إنه عقد اجتماعاً طيباً مع كل من الملك عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز والرئيس حسني مبارك، وزاد ان العلاقات الثنائية والمشتركة “جيدة وطبيعية”.

وركز الرئيس السوري على التواصل مع المملكة العربية السعودية خلال سنة رئاستها القمة لأن تعاون البلدين سيساعد على نجاح القمة المقبلة التي ستكون برئاسة سورية. وتوقع ان يؤدي نجاح الرئاسة الحالية إلى نجاح القمة التالية، وشدّد على ضرورة قيام اتصالات مباشرة وتعاون في شؤون القمة وكل شأن آخر.

وفهمت أن الرئيس الأسد كان دعا وزير الخارجية السعودي الأمير سعود الفيصل على هامش قمة الرياض الى زيارة سورية، والرئيس الأسد قال إنه لا يزال يتوقع هذه الزيارة، وقد سمع أن الأمير سعود أخذ إجازة بعد القمة للراحة بسبب الجهد الكبير الذي بذله في إعداد القمة وإنجاحها.

ركز الرئيس كثيراً في المقابلة على الوضع العراقي، وقال إن القمة أبدت القلق مما يحدث هناك بسبب حجم العراق، مع اهتمامها المماثل بأوضاع الفلسطينيين ولبنان والمشاكل الأخرى. وهو قال إن العرب يرَوْن أن العراق ينزلق نحو الهاوية لذلك كان من الطبيعي ان تهتم الأطراف الإقليمية والدولية بهذا الوضع فهو يؤثر في مصالحها أيضاً.

اليوم أسجل ما سمعت من الرئيس بشار الأسد عن مواضيع محددة قبل ان أكمل غداً بلبنان.

– عن الولايات المتحدة قال:

السيد نايجل شاينوالد، المستشار للشرق الأوسط عند رئيس الوزراء توني بلير نقل إلينا الموقف الأميركي قادماً من واشنطن.

نحن نقول للأميركيين: ضعوا مصالحكم على طاولة المفاوضات، ونحن سنشرح مصالحنا. لن نقوم بأي عمل يناقض مصالح سورية. إذا فكرتم في مصالحكم تجدون انها لا تتعارض في معظم الحالات مع مصالح سورية وبلدان المنطقة.

نقول الحرب كانت خطأ والانسحاب يجب ان يحصل. ماذا تريدون من سورية؟

هم يريدون ان ندعم وضعهم، وأيضاً ألا نتدخل، وقد عارضوا فتح سفارة سورية في بغداد، ويعارضون قدوم وفود عراقية إلينا. نحن نقول ان الحل يجب ان يكون عراقياً.

نريد ان نفهم هل المطلوب ان تساعد سورية على دعم العراق، أو على إخراج أميركا من ورطتها؟ يطلبون منا ضبط الحدود وردنا ان هذه مشكلة عندكم في العراق ومن نتائج المعالجة الفاشلة لحرب فاشلة.

لن نغير موقفنا فقد ثبت ان ما قلنا قبل الحرب كان صحيحاً. (عندما سألت الرئيس الأسد ماذا يطلب الأميركيون من سورية تحديداً ضحك وقال) نحن نطلب منهم:

أولاً: الموافقة على مبدأ الانسحاب.

ثانياً: وضع جدول زمني للانسحاب.

ثالثاً: إيجاد حل سياسي عراقي، وليس دولياً، مع دعم إقليمي ودولي.

لا نستطيع ان نتحدث عن حرب أهلية شاملة (قال بالإنكليزية Full blown ) في العراق. هناك اقتتال طائفي على مستوى القوى السياسية يجب وقفه ومنع الحرب الأهلية، وهذا لا يزال ممكناً.

– عن إسرائيل ونشاط السوري الأصل إبراهيم سليمان وآخرين قال:

هناك اتصالات لا تعد ولا تحصى. كل شهر عندنا اتصال من هذا النوع. اتصالات سرية ممكنة ولكن لا نقبل مفاوضات سرية. المفاوضات يجب ان تكون في العلن.

بعض هؤلاء الوسطاء يسمع الموقف السوري وينقله إلى إسرائيل ولا يعود. بعضهم يعود. حتى هذه اللحظة لم يعد أحد بشيء جدي أو ملموس. عندما يأتي وسيط بشيء جدي أو ملموس سنعلنه فوراً.

الموقف السوري لا تنازل عن أي شبر من الأرض. لا مفاوضات قبل ان تقر إسرائيل بعودة الجولان كاملاً… عند ذلك نعلن ونحكي.

(سألته عن أخبار صواريخ سورية جديدة على الجبهة، وهل يتوقع حرباً مع إسرائيل في الصيف): نعمل يومياً على تعزيز دفاعاتنا. نحن دائماً نحضر أنفسنا. إسرائيل عدو شرس، لم نرَ منها سوى الأذى. لا نعرف هل تقع حرب، ولكن لا يجوز ان نلغي الاحتمال. إسرائيل لا أمان لها.

– عن الفلسطينيين قال:

(أبديت تخوفي من تهريب السلاح إلى حماس وفتح، ومن مواجهة بينهما، أو حرب أهلية): لا أعرف. لا معلومات عندي عن تلقي حماس أو فتح أسلحة. لا أتوقع حرباً أهلية. فكر في الدور الإسرائيلي. إسرائيل ردت على المبادرة العربية سنة 2002 باجتياح عسكري.

هناك الآن حكومة إسرائيلية هي الأضعف في تاريخ الحكومات عندهم. وهم عادة يلجأون في حالات الضعف إلى المواجهة والحرب. ربما كانت الحكومة الإسرائيلية تسعى بعد ما أصابها في حرب الصيف على لبنان للتعويض عن خسارتها في مكان آخر. ربما كانت ترى ان المخرج في شق الفلسطينيين والإيقاع بينهم.

أكتفي بهذا القدر اليوم من نقل مباشر لحديث الرئيس بشار الأسد. وهو كان استقبلني بالقول إنه لم يرني منذ سنة، وقلت: زُرْ غباً تزدَدْ حباً.

بعد سنة وجدت الرئيس مرتاحاً لعلاقاته مع السعودية ومصر، ولقوة الموقف السوري. وكان دائم الابتسام، وضحك غير مرة ونحن نتبادل بعض القصص. وأكمل غداً بالشأن اللبناني.

April 17th, 2007, 3:06 am

 

Alex said:

Gaddafi mocks Saudi initiative

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said yesterday a Saudi proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was doomed to fail because the Arab leaders behind it were “half-wits.”

“Arab leaders have no credibility. These Arab leaders are poor half-wits and no one would take them seriously,” he told supporters gathered at his home in Tripoli.

April 17th, 2007, 3:34 am

 

youngsyria said:

Zenobia said:
“for example, what I see is that the identities that Syrians hold tight to are ones related to their religious affiliations, and class affiliations. The whole society is terrifically stratified.”

this was my point.we don’t have homogeneous society.. now, why do people rely on those affiliations?

I think because the government failed to give them reliable support. when you know that the state wont support you when something wrong happens you tend to search for a “support group”. religion tribe and family are the oldest form of those support groups and they are preinstalled too.

enhancing state performance and services to its population will improve the sense of common national identity.

April 17th, 2007, 5:21 am

 

DJ said:

I like the new configuration of the blog; nice work Josh…

April 17th, 2007, 8:48 am

 

DJ said:

Ehsani;
Have you been following the discussions taking place on the blogs of some of the parliamentarian candidates?
Interesting how Syrian masses wait for the slightest of opportunity to let off some steam…
http://www.k-alsayed.com/
http://www.rania.barlaman-sy.com/index.php?page=asking

April 17th, 2007, 8:52 am

 

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