Syria between two sieges

Bashar al-Assad is still in power, but the people of Syria have lost their homeland.
Tuesday 20/04/2021
A file picture shows Syrian demonstrator calling for “Freedom” during a protest in Daret Ezza, close to the Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP)
A file picture shows Syrian demonstrator calling for “Freedom” during a protest in Daret Ezza, close to the Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP)

Economic crises were part of normal life in Syria. But Syria had also a permanent food surplus.

Were the crises convenient for security reasons, as they kept citizens distracted by issues far from politics and government?

That is possible, as the political system led by Hafez al-Assad and inherited by his son Bashar was by no means innocent. There is in fact no innocent political system.

However, Syria is not a rich country and it was destined to be trapped between two sieges. A mean US siege and another due to the absurd self-imposed duties dictated by the regime’s slogans of steadfastness, confrontation and resistance.

Both blockades are inter-related.

Because of the regime’s adoption of a hollow project  that is detached from reality, under the banner of resistance without having anything to resist, the US ended up imposing a malicious siege on it.

And because of that siege, the government’s policy deviated in the direction of a stubborn attitude that plunged the country and its inhabitants into a spiral of overbearing rhetoric that is full of empty words and is only borderline political in essence.It had in reality nothing to do with politics.  It just paved the way for an internal siege that the Syrians lived under due to a condescending, arrogant authority that thinks it knows everything and deals with the people in the language of fortune tellers.

Thus, Syria would have been wronged, not because of a misunderstanding, but because of a disconnect from the truth.

Neither did the United States have the measure of the Syrian regime’s size and strength, nor was the regime prepared to be humbled and abandon its phoney swagger and descend from its illusions to reality.

Syria was not a threat to anyone.

Had Syria been treated with the respect it deserved, its international relationships would not have deteriorated.

Hafez al-Assad was smart about maintaining some kind of balance in Syria’s relations with the outside world and was largely successful in presenting Syria as a success story.

All the economic crises that the Syrians have lived through have not stopped their country from being successful in many fields.

For example, education was advanced and there was a level of financial stability. In addition to that, Syria was until 2011, considered a safe country for its citizens and visitors alike.

At the level of its relationship with the fellow Arab countries , Syria’s steadfastness on common issues ensured a unified Arab position before the rest of the world.

Syria was not a shadow state, but rather an active state on many levels.

Do these facts lead one to praise the father and put down the son?

A file picture of Syrians showing the V-sign as they pose in front of a huge image of President Bashar al-Assad during a rally by thousands supporting their leader in central Damascus. (AFP)
A file picture of Syrians showing the V-sign as they pose in front of a huge image of President Bashar al-Assad during a rally by thousands supporting their leader in central Damascus. (AFP)

Certainly the ruling dogma suffered a setback  once the hereditary project was declared a success.

What happened next was a consecration of a huge failure that was consistent with the dilapidated, opportunistic and unethical party performance and the desire of the security services to swallow the state and dominate its decision-making positions.

In spite of his pedantic rhetoric, President Bashar al-Assad was too weak to stand in the way of partisan jockeying and the ability of the security services to invent imaginary enemies..

This failure was evident to the people, who were sympathetic to the president, when he demanded the abolition of the constitutional clause granting the Baath Party the right to monopolise power and called for legal restrictions on the powers of the security services.

The young president was at the time on another planet. He was not listening to the people.

He was deceived by Syria’s stability based on false analyses, so he believed that the party and the security services were indeed the pillars of that stability. He did not pay attention to the fact that civil society in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia and other Syrian cities was miles ahead of his regime, which was one of the most backward in the region with its reliance on old methods that were so obsolete they brought the system to near extinction.

Syrian society was modern while the state was old and dilapidated.

Couldn’t the United States realise this, as it insisted on imposing its siege, which inflicted heavy damage on Syrian society?

In all cases, Syria was the main victim. When many countries entered the fray of the Syrian popular protest movement and turned it into an armed revolution, it utterly crushed that victim.

The issue is no longer that of the disintegration of Syria into parts but rather into particles. The Syrian state has fragmented, but Syrian society has preceded it in being torn apart.

Syrians moved to diasporas and Syria has lost many of its original qualities as its society’s image withered away.

Bashar Assad is still in power, but the people of Syria have lost their homeland. Does Assad consider himself the head of a people spread over many continents?