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Home » Censorship Issue, Country in Focus, Features

Country in Focus the Censorship Issue: Syria One Year on…. Has Any Solution Really Come of it?

Submitted by on March 17, 2012 – 8:17 pmNo Comment

A Poster of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

March 15 marked the one year anniversary of the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al Assad’s regime, which has shown no signs of slowing its offensive in the cities that have been key hubs of the opposition.

The pro-Assad forces overran most of the northern city of Idlib, while the military launched its biggest raids in months on the southern city of Daraa – the town the rebels call ‘the birth place of our rebellion’.

The uprising against the Assad regime in Syria reveals why such regimes have persisted for so many decades in the Arab world, and also why they are doomed to collapse.

We now see more clearly the four trends that have defined Syria since March 2011: the continued expansion, intensity and sophistication of the domestic popular uprising against the regime; the use of brutal force against the non-violent demonstrators and the militants who are trying to topple it; the erratic nature and impact of the political opposition abroad; the perplexity of the outside world about how to react to the events in this Arab country.

The paradox of such regimes is that their use of military power against their own people allows them to remain in office for many years, but ultimately it also brings about their downfall.

When the Syrian armed forces are deployed against their own citizens for an entire year, and supplemented by the use of killer bands and snipers, this is a sure sign of something gone very wrong in this self-styled heartland of ‘Arabism’.

The question of who will tire first, the demonstrators or the regime? Given the deployment of massive military power against cities like Homs and Idlib in recent weeks.

The demonstrators and small bands of armed militants cannot realistically stand up to the Syrian army’s assaults, and consequently the regime seems to have quelled the revolts in some parts of the country for the moment.

Syrian-British born, and City University post graduate student Mohmad Firas feels a slight discontentment when seeing what is happening.

Even though Mohamad, was born in Syria he left at the age of four with his family and moved to London 16 years ago.

Being from quite a ‘well off’ family Mohamed only visited Syria once when he was six years old and since then he hasn’t gone back, but settled for a higher life here in London.

“It is sad to see what is happening, the country has been tarnished into pieces. Even though I was fairly young when I did go back to Syria.”

“But I would understand how they must be feeling. Seeing their cities under siege, their neighbourhoods bombed to rubble and their family members killed or tortured this would inevitably cause a whole new generation of anti-regime activists to come into being.”

For Mohamad it feels as though the uprising has entered its second year. With no political or military solution.

“The Military option adopted by Assad’s regime a year ago failed to cool down the uprising, and failed to save the lives of civilians. It failed to achieve a complete victory over what Assad had called “terrorist groups” that conspire against Syria.”

“The so-called reform of Assad’s regime failed to establish or even promote any real change toward reform. It did not even launch a political discussion with Syrian citizens.”

The number of civilians’ who are now actively working to topple the Assad regime is much higher than it was a year ago, though for the moment they are out of the streets and working in other ways to achieve their goal.

The street confrontation equation was always clearly in favour of the regime, once it decided to unleash the power of the military against the demonstrators. The other elements in the equation of the forces for and against regime durability remain confused.

The sustained diplomatic pressure by regional parties — mainly Arabs and Turks — has isolated the Damascus government diplomatically, without bringing about its collapse. The continuing international economic and political sanctions have had the same impact.

They are various Syrian opposition groups abroad and have generated considerable news and discussion, but no real pressure on the regime to date. How does Mohamad feel about that?

“The Free Syrian Army and other armed groups that oppose the government play the same role on the military front — opposition without achieving regime change.”

“The activities of multilateral organisations — mainly the Arab League and the United Nations — have been striking for both their vitality and their lack of impact.”

We now see more accurately why this kind of regime has remained in power for 43 years in Damascus. It is willing to use the armed forces and budget to keep itself in power, regardless of the cost at home or in diplomatic relations abroad.

As its circle of diplomatic, military and economic supporters shrinks steadily, so do its options to get out of the corner it is in. Few if any credible Syrian opposition groups will negotiate with the Assad regime, other than the departure of the regime.

Unilateral steps, like the recent referendum and the announced upcoming elections, lack credibility. Economic conditions are becoming more difficult by the day for most Syrians, and could prove to be the most serious vulnerability of the regime in the months ahead.

“It is difficult to see how Assad and his ruling partners can use political dialogue and reform to escape the pressure and isolation they now experience.”
“Kofi Annan’s mission is intriguing because it is based on promoting precisely such dialogue.”

It is possible that enough opposition groups will agree to dialogue if they feel that this is the best way to remove the Assad family from office, while street activism is blocked for the moment due to the massive deployment of the armed forces. The Assad ruling elite will not enter into a dialogue that is designed to evict it from power.

The basic stalemate in Syria continues, while the costs are increasing all around, in terms of dead and injured, flow of refugees and displaced persons, economic and diplomatic stress, and regime isolation.

We are likely to witness this trend for some more months, until one of the weak points in this equation snaps, which is inevitable sometime this year.


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