Syria: Happy Ramadan from Bashar Al-Assad And Family
By Anthony Zeitouni
“It is an inevitable surgery to save Syria,” a Syrian senior official told me the day after the recent massacre in the city of Hama, which took place on the first day of Ramadan, Islam’s sacred month. “In just a few weeks you will see the political reform of President Bashar Al-Assad” he added.
Later that week, I began seeing the reform in Syria when President Bashar Al-Assad signed and issued the legislative decree on Multi-Party Law in Syria. He signed after deleting the paragraph “sharing of power and participation in governance” from the proposed law. The Baath regime promotes this law as the first Multi-Party Law in Syria. It is designed to form, with the General Election Law, the beginning of political reform leading to democracy and pluralism in Syria under Bashar Al-Assad. Now, with the newly signed law, President Al-Assad does not allow political parties to share power with the Baath party. Bashar Al-Assad’s reform keeps the ruling Baath party as the “leader of the state and the society of Syria” as the infamous Article VIII of the Syrian Constitution states. Article VIII represents “the title of the autocracy”, as the Syrian opposition leaders recently described it when asking Al-Assad to delete this article from the constitution.
Al-Assad’s philosophy of political reform as stated in the Multi-Party Law is clear. There will be no sharing of power with the ruling Baath party, and participation in governance is not allowed by law. Simply put: no democracy. These are the Syrian president’s Ramadan gifts to his fellow citizens: Massacre in the city of Hama and a faulty Multi-Party Law that effectively cancels the new General Election Law, which was not all that great, either. What does an election mean if the candidates elected are, by law, banned from sharing power?
Where is Syria this week? The Baath regime signed off on a second massacre in the city of Hama; the first one took place in 1982 during the mandate of Hafez Al-Assad. It is proudly continuing the “military-security option” which led to 2000 Syrians being killed to date. Then the Syrian President issued two opposing laws under the guise of political reform. The Syrian authority is “moving in the opposite direction of the real legal statute of democratic change in Syria,” as the Syrian lawyer and activist, Habib Issa told AFP when describing the current situation. The Syrian authority is “not serious in its task to move forward from an authoritarian regime to a democratic system,” as the Syrian opposition figure Anwar al-Bunni states. The authority is just trying to “beautify the face of domination” the former political prisoner Anwar al-Bunni added.
In my most recent article entitled “Syria: Who Is In Charge, Bashar Al-Assad or Maher Al-Assad?” I was optimistic that President Bashar Al-Assad intended political reform when he chose the “national dialogue option”. However, by signing this shameful Multi-Party Law on the heels of the Hama massacre, President Bashar Al-Assad proved that all the optimistic analysts were wrong. Al-Assad ignored the international critics and even the advice of his friend Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, who warned that Bashar al-Assad risks a “sad fate” if the current violent crackdown in Syria continues.”During our personal meetings [with Assad] and in the letters that I had sent to him, I follow the same idea: it is necessary to hold a referendum, put up with the opposition, restore peace and create a modern state,” Medvedev added to Russia’s Ekho Moskvy Radio in an unprecedented escalation of the Russian position since the beginning of the current uprising in Syria.
Once again, President Bashar Al-Assad proved that he does not understand his fellow citizens even though he shares with them the same native language. He continues to fail his friends like Medvedev. Al-Assad proved that he still believes in “Hama Law” (the phrase coined by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times) and in the fear instilled there by his father in 1982. Unfortunately, he has no sincere intention of moving from the Baath’s authoritarian regime to a democratic system of governance in Syria.
As the crisis in Syria continues to unfold with daily news of bloodshed, it appears more likely that the regime will take Syria to a civil war than to lasting democratic reform.
Editor’s note: Anthony Zeitouni (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a Washington-based analyst who was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Follow Zeitouni on Twitter: @Anthonygaz. His web site is www.anthonyzeitouni.com