Like many Syrians I had hoped for a transformation in Syria over the last decade with the ascendancy of Bashar to the presidency. There was not much logic behind my hope except for a Syrian's natural tendency to want to avoid conflict and wish the best for his beloved country. This wishful thinking eroded gradually over the years, as other than applying a shiny veneer of wealth to the privileged -well connected- few in Damascus, the president achieved no real reform. However, as late as a couple of weeks ago, even after the outrage in Daraa, I was still, against all odds, willing to give Bashar the chance to do the right thing. He failed miserably.
The harsh reality, as clearly demonstrated in the last month, is that the Syrian regime of 2011 is no different than the Syrian Regime of 1990 or 1980. Worse than the brute force with which the protests were put down, is the way some in the security forces (or is it the Shabiha) sadistically handle anyone taken into custody. The most recent appalling example can be seen on Youtube video of armed security officers in the village of Baida, brutalizing the men they had taken into custody. The behavior is meant to sow fear, dehumanize and debase the citizens. It is as if the regime is in an abusive relationship with its own people. And as in abusive relationships, the abuser will intermittently feign concern and sympathy between bouts of abuse; hence the meeting of the president with delegates from Banyas to try "reduce tension".
The regime's clumsy propaganda has worked on no one but their most die hard supporters and many disillusioned apologists have given up on them all together. If the regime of 2011 is no different than that of 1980, the Syrian citizens of 2011 are. The people have lost their fear of the regime and brute force will not work, as it did in the past, to quash the legitimate aspirations of the people. The sooner the regime realizes that the better it is for Syria. Unfortunately, a system based on fear and intimidation is not equipped with the flexibility to adapt to new realities.
I fear that we are looking at many more months of strife and bloodshed.