Friday, April 13, 2012

Syria's opposition can now turn this ceasefire to its advantage

Adrian Hamilton
The Independent

"Whether the Syrian ceasefire holds may be the question that most of the world, including Western leaders, is asking at the moment. And it does obviously matter so far as saved lives and protected civilians are concerned. But, renewed firing or not, the question remains, as it has from the beginning: can the opposition unseat the Assad family and change power in Syria?.....

The reason is blunt and brutal. This is not a fight about democracy in which the ruling regime could, like the generals in Burma or the king in Morocco, give a little in order to preserve themselves in power. This is, like other movements in the Arab world, a revolt against the whole nexus of corruption and internal suppression which keeps the Assad family in wealth as well as power.

Give in with even minor concessions, the regime fears, and the whole edifice will start to crumble as ethnic, religious and regional differences surface. No one need believe for a moment Damascus's claims that it still has the support of most of the population. But it can, and does, play to fear – fear both of the brutality of the security services and fear of the chaos which civil war and religious conflict might bring.....

The opposition's hope is that they can use the period of calm to recuperate, re-supply and bring out their supporters on to the streets in peaceful protest. That is what will achieve their purpose, if anything can. Assad has the upper hand militarily but, if the ceasefire is followed by a resumption of mass and peaceful protest demanding his resignation, what can he do but return to suppression in front of the cameras?"

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