My brief thoughts on Syria and the Arab Spring


WHATEVER YOU AND I THINK, the future of Syria is now more predictable – al-Assad will fall. Since the anti-Assad protests began early last year, I think it’s fair to say that we’re about to reach the last days of the al-Assad regime. I say this because the situation has deteriorated and the death of thousands of civilians has alienated most Arab nations. He’s been isolated by his entire region – which even puts more pressure on his regime. The persistent fighting at the capital Damascus and the killing of Assad’s relatives and his top government officials has energized the opposition.

What stunned most of us this past week was the resignation of the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council Envoy to Syria – Kofi Annan. In his statement Annan made it clear that at the time when “the Syrian people desperately need action – there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.” Some experts such as Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations have pointed out that his “six-point plan” had no chance of being accepted.

A new resolution was needed to pave the way ahead. Annan did all the best he could to find a solution to the Syrian conflict – but to no avail. What made the negotiations even more difficult was al – Assad’s stance – calling protesters terrorists and gangs. In such a situation it becomes very difficult to get to a solution. He should have recognized the opposition and work towards finding a solution of which the result would be peace. But he didn’t. Now it’s time for him to go.

But much of the blame should be directed towards the U.N. Security Council.  The organization has, given the circumstances on the ground, failed to exercise its mandate. Jose Luis Diaz of Amnesty International recently wrote to CNN, lamenting actions by China and Russia to shield al-Assad’s regime and veto every resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council to impose tougher sanctions on the Syrian regime. He’s right, the situation would never got where it is had China and Russia not “parroted the regime’s line from very early on that the opposition – overwhelmingly peaceful at the beginning – was no more than a terrorist conspiracy guided from abroad.”

The sun shall set for al-Assad. It seems what he’s learned from these Arab Spring protests is – nothing. He should have learned from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. He didn’t. He’s rather alienated all those who were his allies. “A long-standing pillar of Syria’s foreign policy has been support to the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. But in the wake of the Syrian onslaught, the country’s estimated 500,000 Palestinians are abandoning – even challenging – their long-time champion. With this dramatic shift, al-Assad is left more isolated in the Middle East than ever before”, writes Jonathan Schanzer for CNN‘s Global Public Square.

My belief is that all those who detest “freedom” like al-Assad do not last – I’m right. They end up “food-hunting”. These Arab Spring protests have shaped the future of freedom and it all happens within two years. People have spoken. The “convergence” I’ve spotted is indeed a reality. When western CNN journalist, Nick Robertson reported in Syria he interviewed a group of protesters and one of them shouted, “we want freedom, we want to be like you.”

One of my favorite people, Fareed Zakaria, gave a lecture at the University of Minnesota in April last year. Concluding his lecture he said, “We (Americans) have been, for 75 years around the world telling the world to open up its societies, open up their politics, open themselves up to the world economy, open themselves up to modern technology. Finally the Middle East is joining the modern world. We should be celebrating.” The exception is al-Assad who hasn’t yet joined the modern world. Well since he doesn’t want to, people will. PM


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