The Syrian regime is claiming victory in its battle with its own people or rather, as they would say, the battle against the insurrection by armed terrorist gangs. I hope they are wrong but I frankly don't know. They have managed to choke off almost completely the trickle of images escaping from Syria, arrested thousand of activists and continued their brutal crackdown. Does that mean that the protests have diminished and will stop? I doubt it.
If the fragmentary information over the past eight weeks has left many in doubt about the course of the events, there are certain things I have become certain of. The regime's ruling elite is brutal, incorrigible and unreformable and willing to take the country down with it rather than surrender or share power. I always thought that some opponents of the regime engaged in hyperbole when describing the regime as a mafia. But how else can you describe a regime led by a leader who inherited the presidency and that is rife with nepotism. Brother Maher controls the most powerful division in the army, a cousin is the wealthiest monopolist businessman in Syria and various lesser Assads control a freelance militia, the so-called Shabiha, used to kill and intimidate unruly citizens. In fact , the Corleones' behavior pales compared to the Assads.
The last eight weeks have also acutely heightened my distaste for those, who despite everything that has transpired, continue to provide cover for the president and his regime. After several hundred unarmed protesters are killed, many more injured and thousands of activists and ordinary citizens incarcerated and tortured, there is no room for moral hand-wringing. The regime has clearly shown what it is capable and willing to do to its own people. If the protests are suppressed, the apologists will say that it is because the president has many more supporters than detractors among the Syrian citizens, as if the blood of those who died was worth spilling if the protests represented only 20% of the Syrian people.
Surely the same regime apologists will think my moral arguments naive. They will tell me that I don't understand the complex nature of the Machiavellian politics of the Middle East and how events are interconnected by nefarious conspiracies. I am happy to be the naive one along with all the common people whose Arab Spring has debunked all the stupid assumptions and political theories. It turns out -surprise, surprise- Arabs are like everyone else and long first and foremost for dignity, respect and freedom. Until individuals in our part of the world are given those basic rights they will continue to be expandable pawns in power games played by a few and we will never be able to build stable, progressive societies that achieve the potential of their people.
The Syrian regime might temporarily put out the fires but the embers of dissent will continue to burn.