Friday 15 June 2012
Last Update 16 June 2012 6:21 pm
I do not know why regimes fail to create a group of advisers that base their decisions on actual information, precise reading of various scenarios, understanding of international positions and proper knowledge of ground realities.
There are many people who wish to see the end of the Assad regime. And here we are not only referring to Syrians, but also Lebanese who have been subjected to pro-Hezbollah Syrian meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs.
Moreover, many Iraqis blame Assad for the downfall of the previous regime. Interestingly, President Assad confirmed frequently that the Americans realized that were it not for the Syrian role the Iraqi former regime would have stayed. Palestinians also blame the Syrian regime for much of the obstacles they faced in their liberation struggle. Palestinian-Syrian differences have been the norm because of Assad's manipulation of Palestinian issue to further his agenda.
Additionally, Jordanians have often complained of the double standard of the regime that preach unity while trying to sow discord.
Though Jordan is not for change of regime in Syria, it is affected by the regime's policies.
For instance, the Syrian regime has manipulated the issue of water to put pressure on Amman. The Syrian media irritate Jordanians with frequent references to their country as southern part of Syria. Jordanians still remember when the Jordan army helped the Syrians in the October war only to be rewarded by ingratitude and harassment at border.
A few days ago, a friend reminded me of something that I had said at the outset of the crisis. I said that the failure of the regime in handling the uprising in Deraa would pave the way for a catastrophe. I told him that totalitarian regimes often feel complacent about their power and alliances but fail to see the economic and societal changes taking place at the international and regional levels.
These regimes hold on to the same old approach in handling crises. They still need to learn that people have changed and they look for a decent dignified life or would prefer to die. One of the supporters of the Syrian regime has been trying to amplify the issue of foreign intervention and civil war.
I told him if he knew the elements that could cause instability in any country he would not overlook the external factor. Some security studies address the social dimension to create a state of polarization. This is a valid proposition to understand much of the region's history. Wars recur in different forms primarily for one purpose.
But the question is about allowing others to interfere in the domestic affairs of each country. Why do we alienate minorities rather than integrating them in the society? I told him that the state talked more about the minorities' right rather than full citizenship. America for instance is a multinational country but all consider themselves Americans at the end of the day. Therefore, the problem is not in the society as much as in the regimes themselves.
Those regimes that do not want to develop, modernize, respect their people, rule by the logic of power rather than the power of logic are the problems. I recently met one of my friends who had advised the Syrian regime early on to seize the opportunity to defuse the crisis.
Given the fact that although the regime was in a poor state when Assad took over as president, people had pinned high hopes, and that was the time when the regime should have initiated dialogue with the opposition. My friend felt that Assad wanted to talk but he could never translate it into policy. The repeat of mistakes and the bloody handling of the situation paved the way for international interference and indeed the country is now on the brink of civil war.
Time and again, we have said that the root cause of the Syrian crisis is internal and should have been seen as such. The problem is not external.
Hence, the desperate attempt of the regime to play on the "existence" of an external plot and use the sectarian card has backfired and has not helped in defusing the crisis. It seems a few have been duped by this kind of propaganda. Amid this situation and the Chinese and Russian positions, how my friend who had advised the regime sees matters in Damascus. He thinks that Bashar Assad is powerless. His brother Mahir, his cronies and pro-Iranian senior officials are the ones who call the shots.
He says the Russians are unreliable. Moscow conducts its policy giving priority to its narrow interests. The regime needs to see a light at the end of the tunnel and Moscow is not helping in that. Some Syrians believe that Russia is using the regime to get a quid pro quo from the West and at one point it will make the regime a scapegoat.
He said that the bombardment of Syrian villages came at he behest of Russia. Many have been calling for political rather than military solution. But a political solution, according to Annan's plan, will lead to a transition of power. Interestingly, the Russians had once advised Assad to delegate his power to one of his deputies but then Russia reversed its position.
Through Tehran, Damascus has been trying to promote an American-Iranian-Russian understanding on a political solution. And yet, what type of political solution after trust has evaporated. The replacement of a genuine democratic solution will be a civil war.