Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Syria: The Start of a Historic Phase

The events in Syria these past weeks, from demonstrations, acts of violence, weapon smuggling, and the aggressive tactics of the Syrian military and security forces, have proven that one can not provide a simple explanation about Syria's domestic dilema.

Browsing through Arab and western newspapers covering the Syrian events these past weeks, one trend seems to be still in vogue and that is the focus on a sectarian explanation of why the Ba'ath party succeeded in ruling Syria for 40 plus years, and why the Syrian people seem not to be willing to uprise in masses, as the Egyptians and Tunisians did.

It is the old Sunni vs. Alawi explanation. An Imam in the Gulf region made a fatwa concerning the situation in Syria a week ago, stating that "... so what if two thirds of the country eradicated the third..." stating that it is the duty of the Sunnies (70 %) to exterminate other religious sects in Syria (of which there is eighteen and they constitute 30%). His fatwa is also based on the sectarian explanation.

Basing one's analysis and explanation on that an Alawi sect is dominating state and financial institution without the approval and blessings of merchants, professionals and clergy from the majority group, is an out of touch perspective. It is a view point that gets lost in its ignorent simplicity by failing to explain a complex social and political structure.

The whole sectarian explanation falters and collapses if one spends few weeks in Syria, and realizes the dependancy of every sect and ethinicity on the cooporation of the other within the system. Spending few weeks in Syria would be enough to get an idea of how Sunni conservatives have made a come back, not to the liking of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, but are more in tune with the Syrian government, and one of its fierce defenders.

Again, this does not undermine the dire need for political reform and the need to socially and politically integrate the "other view point" in Syria.

The internal situation seemed to have calmed down which allows for a, long promissed, National Dialogue. Syria is expiriencing a social and political transformation, unlike the ones in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc. A transformation that has just hit a critical juncture. One of the essential elements for a successful transition is national unity الوحدة الوطنية; an element that seems to be intact.

Syrians asking for reforms within this national unity paradigm are only adding to Syria's strength. Syrians have died for dignity and freedom, and it seems that the executive cabinet is ready to implement a political reform plan and move on with its general reform agenda.

A Syrian made plan.. by all Syrians.

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