Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Syria's fate

There's an interesting opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune on Syria's current state of affairs. Volker Perthes writes,

Bashar Assad's regime in Syria has reached its end phase, even if it manages to
hang on to power for months or years. This is so almost irrespective of what
Detlev Mehlis, the UN prosecutor charged with the probe into the murder of
former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon, will say in his report about the
alleged role of Syria in that crime.

I've been reading tons of stuff on Syria lately, what with the UN investigation into Rafik Hariri's death, and I'm always struck by how pathetic Bashar seems. I mean, sure, he was only planning on being an eye doctor, but could he possibly be so lame? He doesn't even try. Maybe that's simplifying it a bit--everyone talks about the old guard and their lasting power--but it's just kind of sad. I have the impression that he's probably just a regular, decent type of guy.

Anyway, this paragraph jumped out at me:

In today's Middle East, coups are probably only possible if they come with a
credible promise of democratic change. Any military officer who pushed away
Assad and his entourage would therefore have to allow the formation of
political forces and real elections in due course. Such a program would win the
indispensable support of the bourgeoisies of Damascus and Aleppo as well as of
civil servants, intellectuals and even much of the rank and file of the Baath Party.

Is that really true? Yeah, it seems like things are changing, but have they changed that fast? If so, Bush be praised (no, I did NOT say that!). Actually, I do think it's probably true, but likely not in as cut-and-dried fashion as it appears. The notion of democratic values certainly has a strong cache in the Middle East, but whether people will revolt if no democratic action happens is up for grabs.

And is Syria really that horrible? Honestly, for the life of me I can't figure out all the brouhaha going on in our government about the urgent need to change things in Syria. It's just a bumbling nation--perhaps not as harmless as it gets, but better labelled as politically, and socially, retarded.


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