Thursday, August 04, 2011

Syrian Revolt Five Months On: Decrees, Deception and Death

There is perversity in Bashar Al Assad's pronouncements that borders on the obscene.  After starting, on the eve of Ramadan,  the bloodiest crackdown in the five months of the Syrian uprising, he has the gall to pass a decree, like a benevolent father bestowing a favor on to his children, allowing the creation of political parties.  All the while the state's security apparatus, when they are not bombing a town into submission to rid it of "armed gangs", tracks down, imprisons and tortures anyone who so much as thinks of dissent. The hand of the regime even extends outside Syria with their goons belting peaceful protesters outside of the Syrian embassy in Beirut.

Yet despite the fact that the regime's actions defy all logic and reason, many, in and out of Syria continue to drink the Kool-Aid dished out by the regime as I noticed on a recent trip to Lebanon.  There, the defenders of the Assad regime make for some strange bedfellows.  A not insignificant number of Christian Lebanese, the same people who cheered the loudest when the Syrian army left Lebanon in 2005,  have bought into Bashar's narrative as the defender of minorities.  There is of course the Hezbollah supporters, the party of the poor and disenfranchised, that celebrated the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen but demurred when it came to the Syrian revolt.  Suddenly, the revolt of the Arab people is a Saudi-American-Israeli plot.  Even my own brother seems to have sipped the regime's Kool-Aid.  The truth about what is going in Syria is somewhere in the middle, he told me as I raged at the brutality of the regime.  This from a man whose father -our father- was one of the early victims of the emergency laws having been thrown in Mezze prison for three months in 1963.  My brother's contorted reasoning is that Assad is the defender of the "resistance" against Israel and that the Syrian revolt is manufactured by outsiders.  Somehow, this reasoning makes it acceptable for Assad to kill, maim, imprison and torture thousands of his citizens for the simple act of expressing their opinion. 

The other prop trotted out by the regime supporters is the elusive "armed gangs" of terrorists and salafists, an obsession of several of Josh Landis' posts.  After nearly five months of government brutality, it is not surprising that some the citizenry have retaliated in kind; what is surprising actually is the amount of restraint shown by most citizens. I have yet to see evidence of an organized armed resistance let alone salafist terrorists who are typically not shy in boasting about their exploits.  Having said that, if the regime keeps up the violence, their wish will come true.  Armed resistance will emerge in various forms including the salafist whose appetite for violence will match that of the regime and then some. 

The outlook for Syria is gloomy.  Assad shows no signs of wanting to negotiate a settlement and with Syria having no independent civic institutions, a transition similar to that in Tunisia or Egypt is not possible.  Moreover, direct outside intervention will not happen and will anyway be counter productive. The present impasse will continue with a ratcheting up of the violence on the part of security leading inevitably to increasingly violent push back from those on the receiving end.

If this vicious cycle continues to snow ball,  Syria  will degenerate into an Iraqi style civil war.  I this happens, let there be no doubt that the regime bears full responsibility.  Bashar could have chosen the high road back in March and he would have been celebrated as hero in all corners of Syria.  Instead he has chosen the path laid down by his father in 1982.  


Razan said...

Welcome back!

Abu Kareem said...

Thanks. Stay safe Razan.

Anonymous said...

Sadly what i was afraid of is happening even with a faster speed...Syria has now all the components of civil war!!! divisions: sectarians and ideological, a fascist government with acts like a big mafia killing its citizens at will, ignorant protesters and a mentality of middle ages. Plus all the outside players are present and making sure they put more oil into the fire...sadly we are the next Lebanon or Iraq, or Yugoslavia...of course this situation helps the big goal of instability in the middle east and many outside parties benefit...there was for sure strategic catalysts for all these marionette revolutions....but I am not sure what was the initial goal of violence levels, and what is the big goal, small wars, a bigger regional war...God Help Syria!!! and minimize the damages! and the worst part it is not about democracy or making the country better, it is a show of force that benefits no Syrian!


Philip I said...

How sad and distressing it is to see one's own brother fall for the regime's propaganda. It is not naivity but utter disbelief that the rulers of such a proud country could be so savage and so deceitful.

The savagery is neither spontaneous nor a reaction to an existential threat. It is pre-meditated, well planned and efficiently executed. Its aim is to shock, terrorise and inflict extreme physical harm on peaceful protesters to provoke them into resorting to violence, thereby justifying the regime's existence and providing it with further pretext to exterminate its opponents.

The world will not fall for this primitive tactic and can see right through it.

Abu Salma said...

In this mishmash of opinions, fears of change, interests and prejudices it becomes hard to see through the muck. Nevertheless, let us all be reminded that the regime had the choice. And at every turn of the road, it has chosen the wrong direction, and it continues to do so. What is next? History tells us! Next is dissolution of this way of life. It is no longer logically defensible.