Sunday, October 16, 2011

Morpheus, the Damascene Architect, Fails to Charm

Morpheus, the Damascene architect, unlike his mythological namesake, has utterly failed to charm with the mendacious lyrics of his tired old song.  His article posted on Syria Comment is a complete whitewash of the Assad dynastic rule couched to appear objective and balanced.  The author's bottom line is that Syrians face two options: secular bliss under the Assad fiefdom or Islamist hell without it.  He also blames the protesters for pushing too hard for reform, inciting violence and ruining "all that was achieved" by seeking to overthrow rather than work within the established state system.

Where to start with a piece so full of fallacies and misinformation. First, to label the dynastic, overtly sectarian Assad regime as secular is laughable.  Second, that Bashar has instituted any significant reform during his tenure as president is equally ludicrous.  At the beginning of his tenure, Bashar started on what appeared to be a reforming path but quickly reverted to the old Assad mode of governing.  He turned out to be as thin-skinned as his father and soon dissenters were rotating in and out of jail. He built a cult of personality -witness its nauseating manifestations among the "minhibbak" crowd- largely based on the charisma, intelligence and looks of Asma.    True, some economic reforms were implemented but benefited mostly the well connected cronies of the regime. I have never seen evidence of genuine, even if gradual, democratic reform. And despite Bashar's utter failure to produce real reform, the majority of Syrians were still, in the name of stability, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Even after the start of the uprising, the peaceful demonstrators were calling for justice and reform not for toppling of the regime even as his thugs were slaughtering unarmed protesters .  It was clearly not the demonstrators who refused negotiate or work within the system, it was the regime that was utterly incapable of dealing with dissent expect by crushing it.

What the demonstrations quickly laid bare is that talk of democratic reform was just that. A regime that is preparing for a transition to democracy would be slowly allowing an opening in civil society and working to develop independent civil institutions, lift the state of emergency and allow the election of a representative parliament rather than a bunch of ass-kissing sycophants. An autocratic regime preparing for reform would not be spending a good part of the treasury to equip a division of the army specially trained not to defend the country but to defend the regime. Even worse, the regime has trained and equipped non-uniformed civilians as a private militia, not constrained by the rules of  law, to do whatever they deem necessary to protect the regime. So it is the regime whose "apres moi, le deluge" attitude is dragging Syria to the brink of civil strife and an uncertain future, not the demonstrators.

No comments: