Monday, June 06, 2011

Syrians stare into the Abyss

There have been over 1000 civilians killed by security services, according to human rights activists, and over 10,000 people imprisoned since March the 25th. I say the Syrian people are staring into the abyss because I do not think we have seen the worst that this regime is capable of yet. It is an uncomfortable thought, but we must brace for far worse news in the months to come.

A Zero-Sum Game

According to Patrick Seale, Rifaat al Assad once said that if the Bolshevik revolution was prepared to sacrifice ten million people to preserve itself, then Syria should be prepared to do likewise. Whilst Rifaat and his family are now living in luxury in Europe, the mentality he was speaking with remains with the regime and we are seeing the result of it today. Today the Syrian interior minister vowed to crush anybody who used arms against the state - speaking mainly about the alleged death of 120 security services personnel in Jisr al Shughour, near the Syrian coast. The regime seems to believe that it can ride out this storm if it can just apply more force, and kill more people. Two weeks into the uprising, I might have believed that possible, but eleven weeks on and the crushing of this uprising is far from a foregone conclusion and I am hearing a lot more people beginning to state the opposite, that the beginning of the end for the Syrian regime might be in sight soon. If the regime agrees to reforms then it is agreeing to its own destruction. It has no choice but to resist until the very last opportunity because it recognises that there is no place for it in a Syria governed by the rule of law.

Contrasts with 1982

If 1982 marked the beginning of the Syrian police state and the heavy handed repression which became the norm for Syrians, then one would shudder to think what would happen if the regime gains the upper hand today and suppresses the widespread protests. But there are important differences with the 1982 Hama uprising and these must be considered.

Firstly, the 1982 Hama uprising and related incidents were inspired and led mainly by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and the nature of the struggle rapidly acquired a sectarian nature. This is simply not present in Syria today. Regardless of regime claptrap to the contrary, the information I have indicates that the protests are across the sectarian divide and have spread throughout the entire country. Although there are rumours that the Christian and Alawite population are largely behind the regime, that is simply not true. As the crackdown has acquired an increasingly brutal nature, more and more people are having doubts about the suitability of the regime to lead. Also, widespread protests in the Salamiyeh districts, which are predominantly Ismaili, shows that this is not just a "Sunni" insurrection inspired by Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Secondly, the sack of Hama in 1982 was largely limited to that city, whereas today we see the regime unable to contain the widespread discontent in spite of applying the same treatment to the town of Deraa and several others in rapid succession. A big reason for this is that Syria in 2011 is much more technically savvy, interconnected and populated than it was in 1982. Mobile phone footage travels rapidly throughout the various provinces and is easily uploaded to the internet where it is then disseminated across the entire world. As a result, what happens in Tal Kalakh in the morning is seen by Syrians throughout the world within hours. This is happening in spite of internet blackouts, media blackouts and a deliberate regime attempt at spreading misinformation and confusion through its state media. Even a clumsy attempt at faking a Facebook page for Syrian users was quickly spotted and was of limited effectiveness. In short, people are getting a picture of what is happening and are getting very angry. The regime realises this but cannot do anything about it.

A "Hama" option today?
I was speaking to an Arab gentleman working for BBC Arabic, and he was convinced that the regime was capable of using nerve gas or a scorched earth policy against a city, perhaps even Hama again, to set an example for the rest of the country. I do not believe that is an option and will not happen. If the regime does something like this then it is finished the moment the world finds out. Not even Gaddafi in Libya undertook such an option, and I did think he was capable of doing so at the start of the conflict there. If the "mad dog" of Libya couldn't do it we are not going to see the Syrian regime do so. The regime might be brutal, but it uses violence as a means to an end - and I mean this in the loosest sense possible if one can even make such a statement. Personally, I don't expect the Syrian regime to survive the way it is, but that does not mean we will see the end today. It will take a long time, and will sadly cost far more innocent Syrian lives, before the regime collapses. I'm not cheering for this result, merely stating my observation based on the facts.

7 comments:

kinziblogs said...

We in Jordan are standing behind watching to see what you will see in the abyss.

Praying for you and Syria in these difficult days.

robert.chatterjee said...

Dear Maysaloo,

I am the online editor of Germany`s biggest Middle East related magazine, called zenith. I just came across your blog post on Hama and would like to translate it into German for our website. Can you contact me via email and tell me, if that would be possible?

Best wishes and regards

Robert Chatterjee
Managing Editor zenithonline
www.zenithonline.de
__________________________________________
Deutscher Levante Verlag GmbH
Linienstraße 106

D-10115 Berlin

phone   +49.30.39 835 188 - 0
fax         +49.30.39 835 188 - 5

robert.chatterjee said...

...this is Robert again. Just forgot to give you my email address:
robert.chatterjee@zenithonline.de

Nobody said...

*** Personally, I don't expect the Syrian regime to survive the way it is, but that does not mean we will see the end today. It will take a long time, and will sadly cost far more innocent Syrian lives, before the regime collapses. I'm not cheering for this result, merely stating my observation based on the facts. . ***

Syrian economy should start collapsing within weeks unless somebody volunteers to bail the regime out. And they are too reliant on tourism and foreign investment to hold at bay the demographic cataclysm that's gripping the country. These are unlikely to recover even if the unrest is suppressed. This regime is not going to continue for years in my view

Nobody said...

*** Personally, I don't expect the Syrian regime to survive the way it is, but that does not mean we will see the end today. It will take a long time, and will sadly cost far more innocent Syrian lives, before the regime collapses. I'm not cheering for this result, merely stating my observation based on the facts. . ***

Syrian economy should start collapsing within weeks unless somebody volunteers to bail the regime out. And they are too reliant on tourism and foreign investment to hold at bay the demographic cataclysm that's gripping the country. These are unlikely to recover even if the unrest is suppressed. This regime is not going to continue for years in my view

Lazy said...

i wonder if this is to believe or is it just the same "Propaganda" - just another side of it?

http://www.coptsunited.com/Details.php?I=428&A=3583

Maysaloon said...

Lazy,
I am sceptical of articles like this. But that's just me.