Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The New Party Law - Nothing New

Sami Moubayed explains in his recent article: "Friends of the Baath," the "freedom" that will be granted by the New Party Law, the draft of which has appeared and caused an uproar among the Syrian opposition. Here are his last few sentences:

The main qualifications of the founder [of any new party] should be: "that he has not acted in behaviour that is opposed to the Revolution of March 8". This means any person opposed to the Baath who has written, preached, or acted in the opposition since 1963 will be denied a political platform. The founding members should be 10. They should all abide by the general rule which is: "To preserve the objectives of the Revolution of March 8."

Another clause in this domain is Article 17, which says, "It is prohibited to re-launch any party that was disbanded before the year 1963."

Meaning, the National Party of Damascus, the People's Party of Aleppo, and clearly the Muslim Brotherhood, will not be allowed to re-operate.

The only three parties operating before 1963 which will be working in Syria are the Baath, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) that was banned in 1955 and re-permitted in 2005, and the Communist Party.

With these regulations, it is doubtful whether the multi-party law will be really effective in Syria. It means that the only parties allowed to operate will be the ones that are allied to the Baath, created by the Baath or friends of the Baath.
The draft law also prohibits any foreign activity on the part of Syrian parties:
All parties are clearly prohibited from operating outside Syria or even marketing their views with Syrians in the diaspora or among non-Syrians. This is currently being challenged by a multi-party law draft proposed by the National Progressive Front (NPF), a coalition of parties headed by the Baath, which says that marketing views outside of Syria is allowed, but fund-raising from abroad is not.
One Syrian friend living in Damascus, who has long worked in the opposition laments what this will mean for Syrians. He also criticizes the way many opposition members have jumped aboard the governments refusal to allow any foreign funding of civil society projects that can be cast by the government as "opposition," which is just about anything. We have already witnessed this with the closure of Anwar al-Bunni's new Center for Human Rights in Damascus, which was shut down by the government last week. My friend writes:
Dear Josh,
The "Syria Democracy Program", announced recently by US State Department, was not well received/understood by the Syrian opposition, I am afraid. As you know, the issue of a foreign financing is very sensitive for the traditional opposition, and they will try to deny receiving any foreign support, even if they accepted it.

Syrian laws forbid accepting such finances and serious penalties may be imposed in such cases. The "expected" party law will forbid receiving such finances also. As a result, I think that these finances will, eventually, find their way to opposition figures living abroad, which represents a wrong route, in my opinion.

Personally, I think that this program represents a good move from the American side, as a start. The question is: is the Syrian opposition ready to make use of it? I think that the Syrian opposition needs assistance in this regard too.

In my opinion, the program should start with financing a good deal of workshops, gathering as much as possible of Syrian opposition figures, living in Syria and abroad, to discuss questions, such as: should we accept foreign assistance? Do we need it? Can we accept it? Under which conditions? Etc.

One might expect here a clear polarization about these issues, but I expect that some kinds of support will be accepted by most parties, for example:

• Scholarships to Syrian students to study politics, economics, and related subjects;
• Scholarships to international experts to come to Syria, and conduct studies about Syrian politics;
• Workshops and study tours to Syrian opposition figures to learn about political life in the west;
• Translation of English websites, like yours, into Arabic, and translation of some Arabic websites into English…


At 3/07/2006 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Why would you expect anything better out of the Baath Party. It is unreasonable to do so. Not Even Presidents Assad the Elder and the Younger had much hope or care about the Baath Party.

At 3/07/2006 12:16:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

These few points at the end are helpfull and if the US wants to provide assistance in that regareds ,i think the Syrian goverment will axcept a joint cooperation in that regards but no oppositon in Syria should take assistance not sancton by the syrian govorment , can you immagine syria helping the nation of Islam anf Farakhan without the american approval ,that will be the death sentence to the Nation of Islam.one more thing ,does anybody know the rules that govern the politecal partie in Israel and the US.?.if anybody know can he tell me on this post.

At 3/07/2006 02:29:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

I would trust EU' assistance to Syria's democratization over the US'. The EU tends to believe more of what it says. The US on the otherhand is schizophrenic.

"Democracy" for the US (for non-european countries) usually tends to mean in practice a "favorable business environment with a judicial system that can protect property and the property owners".

At 3/07/2006 03:10:00 PM, Blogger Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...

There are actually people in this world that would say things like this:

"Democracy for the US usually tends to mean in practice a favorable business environment with a judicial system that can protect property and the property owners".

Yes, what every country needs is a Baathist Democracy System, one that do not protect property and property owners, and a judicial system that favors the thieves and criminals, not the ugly bastard property owners who inherited or worked hard to own the property.

Landis is right, Syrians are not ready for this kind of "American Democracy" the Baathist one is the best for them.

Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe
Syrian Republican Party
The future of Syria
The future of the Middle East

At 3/07/2006 09:23:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

The US is more like syria than the EU ,multiethnic and multireligous groups are in both , minorities have more equal rights in the US than in the EU.elections are done on local level so the people will know their elected officials ,so they vote for the people they know and are from their naibouhoods not by electing a party .

At 3/07/2006 10:06:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Stabelity should provide an atmospheer for economic growth ,economic growth and improvment of standard of living will provide a reason for people not to be self destructive and that will lead to politecal reform ,that is how Franco did it in Spain and that is how Syria can do it without violence.


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