Sunday, June 26, 2011

Where Syria is headed now

In governments as unpopular as those of Egypt, Bahrain and Tunisia at the beginning of this year, it is possible for the mass of people to refuse to cooperate and render the country ungovernable until the government falls.

Libya and Syria are not nearly that unpopular. Both countries have governments that likely have a number of supporters nearly as great or even greater than the number of opponents. The capitals and most populous cities in those countries look nothing like Cairo and the opposition movements just do not have the support to do what the Egyptians did in Tahrir Square.

However earlier this year, some US diplomat seems to have gotten an idea: Let's call for whatever protests we can get and after that, regardless of their size or participation, let's fuel an armed rebellion. Whatever measures are taken against the armed rebellion, we'll describe as the regime putting down peaceful protests.

In Libya that process is well under way. Interestingly, I've seen claims that the rebellion's quick spread in Libya is evidence that Gaddafi is unpopular in the country. That is wrong. Armed rebellion spreads quickly in places with lax or compromised security forces. Period. Armed rebellion did not, and could not have spread at all, much less have spread quickly in Egypt. It did not spread in the 19th century British colonial holdings or the territories occupied by Nazi Germans or the territories held by the Soviet Union. They do not spread quickly today in the holdings of the US/Zionist colonial structure.

The speed with which the central Libyan government lost control of areas of the country indicates the Gaddafi, maybe wrongly, did not see armed rebellion as a threat worthy of devoting resources he easily could have to create a more repressive national security apparatus, such as the one in his eastern neighbor, Egypt.

But while the conflict in Libya hopefully will end in the compromise the US is actively opposing today before there is much more completely unnecessary loss of life, the situation in Syria has not developed to that point.

Syria is more likely to see a stalemate around where we are today, with the opposition unable to establish a base or pose any substantial military threat to Syria's control of any territory, and after a period of non-expansion of the revolt that is long enough that Syria's generals can report that they have stabilized the situation, Assad will begin to hold elections that will establish some legitimacy for some parts of his government.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s there was a large-scale transition away from dictatorships in Europe to governments that were more popularly accountable. These European states did not face the obstacle that the countries of the Middle East face - the United States has an active interest in opposing democracy in that region for the sake of Israel's viability for which there was no analogue in Europe.

But a parliament that gradually absorbs political power away from the dictator has shown to be the most graceful way to transition to popular accountability in government. If Assad wants both to remain in power and to prevent Syria from entering a phase like 2005 Iraq, then that process will have to begin even before the US/Israeli-planned and Saudi-financed revolt has been fully put down.

I expect that this alternative has more support in Syria than any of the alternatives and that US/Israeli/Saudi efforts to produce the situation of 2005 Iraq or to replicate Libya will fail.

The alternative to a graceful transition are just not compelling, and no amount of Saudi money can overcome the basic proposition that looking to Iraq and Libya are stronger arguments against fighting the regime than in favor of fighting it. Replicating the protests of Egypt can't work yet because Assad is not as unpopular or seen as personally corrupt as Mubarak and we have not seen good tangible results from Egypt yet.

If Egypt does, contrary to US efforts, create a government that is accountable to its people and that reflects the values, sympathies and sensibilities of the Egyptian, rather than the American people then that will provide a clear pathway for Syria to do the same. But we will not know how that turns out until the end of this year at the earliest.

But over the next five to ten years, I expect and hope to see at least Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt emerge outside of the US/Zionist Middle East colonial structure with governments that are formally accountable to their people the way Iran's is. The US will not consider any of them "moderate" and will have claim to criticize their implementations of democracy - while defending, just as they do now, clear brutal dictatorships in their colonies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Once Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are safely fully outside of the US/Zionist colonial structure, the key question will become how can a popularly accountable government be established in what we now call Saudi Arabia.


lidia said...

Dear Arnold, you are being careful about the Eastern Europe but still you erred -

1) it was NOT about "the United States has an active interest in opposing democracy in that region" - it was much more like USA did its best to subvert/buy regimes there for its own profit. By the way, virtually all thous new regimes turned to be pro-USA and pro-Israel.
2) To call thous regimes "more popularly accountable" one has to strict to the note that every two-many-party elections bring rulers "more popularly accountable". As a matter of fact those rulers do NOT ask their people whether they want to wage war against Iraq or Libya. They are accountable mostly to USA.

As a matter of fact NOTHING could be father away than Poland in 1989 and Egypt in 2011. Do not let words dupe you. In Poland they were for privatization under USA/EU guidance, in Egypt they demand nationalization. In Poland they got embassy in Israel, and in Egypt - I hope you got it...

Lysander said...

Lidia makes a very good point. Take it even further and you will note how many countries voted against some EU edict by popular referendum but ended up Shanghaied into it anyway. The EU bureaucracy will insist that another referendum be held until the 'right' result is obtained or that the national parliament approve the resolution despite wide scale opposition.

For example, it seems that it is undeniably in the best interest of Greece to simply default, or offer repayment at 10 cents on the dollar, on its debt. And yet, it does not. It will only do so if there is enough public pressure through strikes and protests. (actually, eventually it will probably default anyway.

In other words, the public has to be able to frighten the government more than foreign actors. Voting alone simply isn't enough.

In Egypt's case, that is how it will have to be done. The moment the public stops protesting, the government, no matter how fairly elected, will respond to foreign pressure.

No doubt, this will be described by the international media as mob rule. It might be better to take major decisions by referendum such as in Switzerland, with the results of the referendum being completely binding, with restrictions only on voting against a bill of rights that would apply to every citizen.

Arnold Evans said...

Sorry Lidia, I did not mean Eastern Europe at all. I meant that France, what would become Germany, what would become Italy, Spain, Austria, Great Britain, all of Western Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s transitioned from dictatorships to governments that are fairly accountable to the people governed.

But the job was of Western Europe 100 and 200 years ago was easier than the job in the Middle East today because there was not superpower United States that had an active interest in them remaining dictatorships.

Lysander: I wish every member of the US/Zionist colonial structure: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Jordan and all of the rest had Greece's government instead of their stooge dictatorships.

I'm not saying there is a perfect government in the world. I'm saying that there are imperfect governments that largely represent the values and sensibilities of their people and there are imperfect governments that largely represent the values and sensibilities of their colonial superiors.

I'm sure you're not saying that Greece's government can be compared to Jordan's or to Mubarak.

My greatest hope is that the Middle East can achieve the degree of imperfection we see in Europe instead of the full subjugation to the US that we see in Saudi Arabia.

Yes, voting is not enough, but voting is a lot.

lidia said...

Arnold, I am sorry for my misunderstanding :( The truth is , I have read a lot of crap recently about how Egypt is the Poland today, and I got a bit cranky, I guess.

But it was so nice to know that you are SO wiser that all thous "experts".

Now about Greece - the state is a bit more "white" so to speak than Egypt. It is not a colony, just a client state, but it is not because their gov is any better - they are just being more lucky. It is all historically based.