Archive | July, 2011

Remarkable: Syria refuses to be intimidated

9 Jul

I took this picture in the summer of 2000, when I was in Syria and Bashar al-Assad had just succeeded his father as president. Sad memory somehow, as I remember the spirit of optimism, the zest and the high hopes. Picture: eastbymideast.

I have to be honest: A month ago, I was not sure whether the Syrians would be able to withstand Bashar’s massive intimidation campaign and killing spree over time.

Yes, Bashar al-Assad does rely on the same futile mechanisms and means to thrash his people off the streets as Mubarak, Saleh and al-Qadafi (which, as we remember, really did not get those guys anywhere except out the door). And yes, Bashar is going for an all-or-nothing strategy, which easily might leave him with „nothing“ rather than „all“. But to be left with „all“, he has to exert all force he can afford, and that’s why I had been fearing that in the end he would indeed win.

Nevertheless, looking at yesterday’s events I start to think that he is in line to drop out after all, because Syrians refuse to be intimidated: A stupendous number of 450’000 demonstrators were counted yesterday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. An in Hama of all places; A city still traumatized by Hafiz al-Assad’s bloody massacre of 1982.

The country’s business elite so far still backs the regime, as the regime’s stability basically equals their income’s stability. But according to an article by Sami Moubayed, the business elite’s loyalty is restricted to profit only. As the big centers Aleppo and Damascus are facing rising unemployment, this loyalty might very well go down the tubes. Furthermore, the regime has diligently ensured over decades that be no leading voices, stakeholders or social representatives next to it, as it feared possible opposition. Ironically, this might now prove hurtful, as the regime might nowadays actually profit of a voice uniting the incomers’ communities of Aleppo’s and Damascus’ urban melting pots, urging them not to oppose the regime.

With Moubayed’s assumptions about upcoming urban developments, and about half a million people protesting in hama on Friday, I am hoping for the best. I have no idea how Bashar can spin or shoot his way out of this mess.