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The Syrian Revolution: Tragedy and Miscalculations

map of syria.jpgDAMASCUS, September 04, 2011 - The women of  Syria chanted for more than once during the Syrian revolution: “Martin Luther King, we also have a dream”. They called but only few were listening. They felt the breeze of freedom for almost six tragic months and found it worthy of more sacrifices. They cruised into the risky high seas of  liberty with full conviction that although the lovers of freedom may die, but freedom itself will not.

The editor of Al-Akhbar (a pro Syrian government but decent Lebanese newspaper) practically admitted in his article of September 02, that the majority of the Syrian people are now anti government.


Still despite all the sacrifices and the shifted public opinion, the Syrian government still relatively has the upper hand. Let us examine the reasons behind this fact:

The Internal Reasons 

a. The Syrian Army


The Syrian army is officially called “Al Jaeish Al Aqaedi” which means the “ideological army”. It was trained mainly to defend the government against internal popular revolts or counter military coups. The army, despite important defections at the low level of ranks and files, is still relatively solid in its support to the government.


b. The Secrete Police and Thugs


Some estimate these two forces to be 250000 strong. They have been given free hand by the government to use brutal force to crush the revolution. They, under the Syrian law, can’t be held accountable for their actions or prosecuted, unless the head of the relevant secrete police agency approves the indictment, which is a virtual impossibility. These forces are fully loyal to the government.


c. The Popularity of President Bachar Assad


Before the revolution, the Syrian president enjoyed relative popularity. Many looked at him as a young western educated reformer (he spent 18 months in a medical school in the UK after graduating as a medical Doctor from the Damascus University). The president’s handling of the crisis (an unfortunate brew of bad ideology and excessive  force), made his popularity dip tremendously. 


d. The Poverty of the Syrian People


Under the tutelage of the Assad’s clan, the Syrian social structure has shifted from a middle class structure to a poor class one which mainly depends on the government for survival since, as Thomas Jefferson said, “Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue”,  freedom to many of  the people has become a luxury they can’t afford.

The External Reasons 

a. The Illusions of the West


Since 1974 the West had the illusion that the Syrian government can be drawn to partially become an element in the stability of the area, and to become involved in the Peace process with Israel. That illusion was reinforced by the arrival of president Bachar to power, who was fancied as a reformer as well. The strategists of the West failed to assess that the government depends for its very survival on its rhetorical anti West, anti moderates’ strategy. To the discomfiture of the strategists, the   Syrian government has always failed the West and acted in a manner opposite to the expected. The strategy most suitable to the government is the state of  “No peace and No war” which guarantees appeasement to the West, and diversion of the people away from the main internal issues.  


When the Syrian revolution erupted on March 15, 2011, the West was caught by surprise, and maintained the same policy of reforms’  expectations. It wasn’t till August that it realized that the Syrian government can’t be reformed, and can’t continue.


But still it should be noted that the noble position of the European countries (especially France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Finland, and Poland) has saved thousands of Syrian lives. 

b. The interests’ Groups 

It seems some oil companies have lobbied to the benefit of the Syrian government.


Major oil production and trading companies, like Total, Shell, Trafigura, and Vitol  have publically declared their intentions to continue exports and production activities in Syria.


What is ironic, and perhaps sardonic, is that Trafigura has a foundation dedicated to humanity! 

US congressman Kucinich suddenly appeared in Damascus on June 29 and supported the president’s reforms declaring that the Syrian president promised him to withdraw the army from cities “quickly”. There are reports that the name of the same Congressman appeared in documents allegedly found in the head office of the Qaddafi’s secret police. He allegedly had direct contacts with the Qaddafi regime regarding discrediting the Libyan revolution.


c. The Russian and Chinese support


These two countries, due to their pro dictatorship ideology and their insistence on proving being artificial super powers, have blocked all UN resolutions to condemn the Syrian government. The Syrian protestors have called Friday, September 02, for the first time for International protection and UN observers. Russia and China will block a resolution reflecting such tragic calls.

d. The Arab league and countries    

The Egyptian revolution has temporarily yielded a military council which is virtually anti revolution. The said council applied pressure on the other members of the Arab league to appoint Mr. Nabil Al-Arabi as secretary general. He is known for his sympathy to the Syrian government and support to special relations with non other than Iran.


The position of most Arab governments has been slow and weak due to what they call “Arab solidarity”, and fear from the Syrian government.


e. The Turkish Factor


Turkey interfered to prevent international action against the Syrian government, while condemning its action on daily basis. It has had no coherent policy toward Syria and has lost its influence on both the regime and the opposition.


f. Iran and its pawns


Iran, for sectarian reasons, has supported the Syrian government fully and will continue to do so. It has also applied massive pressure on the pro Iran Iraqi government to grant substantial financing and trading facilities to the Syrian government.




Based on all the complicated elements described in this article, I still preserve my previous expectation: the Struggle will be long and bitter, but will end up in a victory of  the revolution.

Written by Basel Adnan  

Diplomatic Aspects Associate  

NOTE: Article presents the point of view of his writer

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