Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SYRIA - A long and painful death

Syrian rebellion, which began with small-scale demonstrations just last month, continues to gain ground. On 18 April, thousands of demonstrators gathered on the Place de l'Horloge in Homs, the third largest city in hopes of competing with those of Tahrir Square, which caused the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt .

But shortly after 2 am, the Syrian security forces opened fire. It remains unclear how many were dead and wounded. Some reports suggest that the place was completely evacuated during the night. But a militant website immediately called for a resumption of protests the next day. One thing is clear: the dual strategy of the regime - engage in severe repression against the demonstrators and promised reforms - not work.

The protesters do not seem daunted by memories of the massacre of Hama [20 000 deaths] in 1982, which showed how the scheme can be brutal, and each new intervention of security forces fueling their anger. The event which took place April 18 at Homs was triggered by the 17 victims of yesterday's event, which had itself been caused by the death in custody of an important tribal leader.

The dead rise to funerals, funeral protests, and demonstrations of new deaths. At the same time, the regime's attempts to assign events to foreign conspirators, armed groups, fanatics, activists and other Salafi turn against him. This kind of misinformation could have worked a few years ago, when the state exercised control over the media, but now its obvious absurdity.

On the reform front, the protesters have every reason to doubt the promises they have already heard in the past and they do not take them seriously. So far, President Bashar Assad has tried to appease the Sunni [Muslim majority in Syria] by lifting the ban on wearing headscarves in school and announcing the closure of the only casino in the country.

He also tried to get closer to the Kurds, previously marginalized, giving the Syrian nationality to a hundred thousand of them [the 300 000 who were stateless] but this has not had the desired effect . The president also dismissed the government and replaced by another, even though many former members have found a place.

The ministers were instructed to interact with the people and explain their policy, but political change is so radical that no one knows if they are able. Finally, it yal'état emergency, which was in force for forty-eight years and has been repealed [April 21]. To ensure the security of the country, the government will have to adopt new legislation.

And until the new texts are published, it is impossible to say if one goes to an improvement. Given the backwardness of Syria - which is still far from the limited level of freedom of Egypt Hosni Mubarak - and the number of reform movements that have failed in the past, there will be no possibility of satisfying demonstrators as Assad remains in power.

As one observer noted, "we can not hand in running a system that presents as severe dysfunction. The events thus seem destined to continue. "On the one alley to another, from one house to another, we want to overthrow you, Bashar." But the question is: how? What would it take to just to push President Assad to resign? Could he not decide, as Qaddafi in Libya and Yemen Ali Abdallah Saleh, to stay in his palace against all odds? The Baathist regime is perhaps the point of death, but his agony could be long and painful.

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