Monday, May 9, 2011

Syria will change – with or without Assad

A Rabbit is a Rabbit, Even Dressed in Military Uniform....

Even if Syria's president manages to quell the current uprising, it doesn't mean he has won

Brian Whitaker, Monday 9 May 2011

"....As Patrick Seale, a longstanding expert on Syria points out, Assad inherited "a fossilised system of governance" from his father.

"Like other Arabs," Seale says, "Syrians want real political freedoms, the release of political prisoners, an independent judiciary, the punishment of corrupt bigwigs, a free press, a new law on political parties allowing for genuine pluralism ... and an end, once and for all, to arbitrary arrest, police brutality and torture."

The regime keeps hinting that such reforms are on the cards – but only after tranquillity has been restored. If that is the intention, though, mass arrests and the killing of demonstrators seem an odd way to go about convincing people of it.

Seale, who has been more inclined than many to give Assad the benefit of the doubt when it comes to reformist intentions, now acknowledges that his chances of stabilising the situation are slim. To do so, he would have to call a halt to the killing of protesters, take the lead towards reform and in effect carry out "a silent coup against the hardliners".

That all looks very doubtful, not least because the hardliners, as well as the "corrupt bigwigs" include members of his own family. Had he been seriously planning to take on the hardliners, he might also have distanced himself from the brutality of the crackdown on protesters. Instead, he has done the opposite by appearing in photographs dressed in military garb – a sudden change from his more usual appearance in suit and tie."

No comments: