Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"What do Sunnis intend for Alawis following Regime change?" by Khudr

I received this article by an old friend who has posted on Syria Comment before: Asad's Alawi Dilemma. His present article is remarkable for its honest and direct approach to Syria's essential sectarian problem. He wrote:

Dear Joshua,

I wrote the attached article in poor English full of grammatical mistakes but I hope you can publish it on your website under a pseudonym, such as "Syrian in the far east," or "Khudr", or whatever you like.

Many people read your blog and comment about it in their blogs or sites, which makes the chance that this will find a proper readership high. Many Syrian expatriate intellectuals will also discuss it on other sites, at least the English language forums. The subject is too sensitive in Arabic, alas.

The subject is: What do Sunnis intend for Alawis following regime change? I ask this question in light of the general discussion now being carried out about the prospects for change in Syria.

In a time when everybody is emphasizing national unity, many would think that talking about issues between religious communities in Syria should be put aside or that they come from a backward Alawi fanatic. I am not a zealot, the only thing I am fanatical about is my hope, one I know will never come true, of the creation of a pure Syrian nationalism as strong and independent as Japanese or Korean Nationalism.

As an engineer, I find it absurd that Syrians believe they can solve a problem without first analyzing it and dealing with it head on.
What do Sunnis intend for Alawis following regime change?
by Khudr
Syria Comment
August 30, 2006

I came across an article in a blog in which the writer, a Syrian dissident, calls for a coup-d’etat by a Musharraf-like Syrian Army General. This is a reformulation of an earlier article by, Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, which was written when the West was casting about for a new leader for Syria during the Fall of 2005. The assumption is that this will move the stagnating economic, social, and political situation in Syria forward in the proper direction. Although the author is deliberately provocative, he raises an extremely important question in a country where almost all the rulers in its modern history, except two presidents, have risen to power through a coup-d’etat.

The article is also, unintentionally, asking a more fundamental question regarding the position of the Alawi sect on the issue of regime change. The Army General who is to take power should be an Alawi. This is because non-Alawi officers (mainly Sunni and Druze) have no leverage to lead mostly Alawi soldiers, sergeants and officers against the Alawi regime in power.

Although, rarely explicitly said, few people would argue that radical change from within can be achieved without the help of the Alawis themselves, excluding a full-fledged mass uprising or a foreign invasion. At the very least, this change has to be approved by Alawi Syrians if they have to stand aside watching the Alawi rule terminated.

The original question of the article (why a Syrian Army General would not do a coup d’etat?) can then be re-written as: Why the Alawi Syrians do not terminate Assad’s rule?

First, I think it is not an exaggeration if we say that many Alawis are not happy, to say the least, with the present regime. The reasons that are usually circulated are:

- Poverty (slum living Alawis around Damascus, poor villages and deteriorated unemployment rate in the costal area, etc, as examples); and
- Political imprisonment if they dare to challenge (Salah Jdeed and Communist Work Party in the past, and Aaref Dalilah in the present given as examples).

There are also other fundamental reasons that are rarely spoken of. I refer by “we” herein to a generation of Alawis borne after the beginning of the sixties, when the Baath took power and the Alawis assumed for the first time a dominant position in ruling Syria:

1. Most of us have not lived the unjust circumstances that our fathers and grand-fathers were subjected to by the Sunnis. As such, we do not have the same appreciation as our fathers of the Alawi rule that the late president Hafez Assad brought.

2. Hafez made huge improvement to our rural areas after they had been completely and utterly neglected by successive Syrian governments, whether Ottoman or Syrian. (A negligence that the Assad regime has sadly repeated in the Jazeera, the east-northern parts of Syria). However, these improvements have long been frozen, and for more than one generation, things have been heading backwards and not forwards.

In our fathers’ youth, coastal cities at the foot of the Costal Mountains, such as Tartous, Banias, Jabla, Lataqia, were transformed from purely Sunni communities to organized multi-sectarian modern cities (of course relatively speaking). But, our generation lived during times when those nice cities became slum-like dirty places due to corruption, bad-planning and patronage. We watched them become a playground for the cowboys of the new generation, the Assad clan in Kurdaha, sometimes called the Shabbiha.

3. Our fathers’ support for Hafez was driven largely by their resentment for the wealthy bourgeois that Hafez and his Baath claimed to oppose and which imbued their movement with much of its legitimacy. The followers of Rifa`at al-Assad used to recount to us in the seventies how they admired him because he would pick up a dirty used tuna can from the floor and drink tea from it. I wonder what those people think about him now that he uses golden utensils in his multi-million dollar villas in France and Spain? In the past, older Alawis honestly admired many Alawi figures in power. I still have not met a single person who has the slightest admiration for Rami or Asaf, for example. Unfortunately, we are watching how the Alawi rulers and many of their children, are becoming the very same thing they taught us to despise.

4. It is a fact that Alawis still control the important positions in the security systems in Syria. However, it is also a fact that this control serves only a small circle at the top of the pyramid and is becoming less and less beneficial or responsive to the poor members at the base.

5. Seeing that most of the Assad regime on top has made full-fledged alliances with Sunni families through marriage (like the president himself, Nassif’s daughters etc..), or through monopoly enterprises (like Maher, Bahjat Suleiman, Asaf, etc..), the regime has lost any claim to representing the Alawi sect or to defending its rights. The claims that Hafez and his generation used to convince our fathers to support him with have largely been lost.

6. The direction Syria is now heading does not look good. The last thing Alawis want is to have a group of people (composed of many sects, not only Alawis) leading Syria to a catastrophe, while everyone else in Syria accuses the Alawi sect of being responsible for it.

So why then don’t Alawis are do anything about the situation? Why are we silent? Why doesn’t an Alawi Army General carry out a coup?

A. Reasons general to all Syrian citizens:

1. The culture of fear has been deeply planted in every Syrian person regardless of their sect or race.

2. We have been deeply conditioned to mistrust and be suspicious of everyone, making it extremely hard for any two Syrians to work together, not to mention organize in a group. To see how deep this problem has become, look at how much the Syrians in the Diaspora are fragmented even when they are away from the regime and its influence. No two Syrian expatriates are able to organize a cultural gathering, not to mention a political party. No sooner does a new party emerge than its members, who are from the same sect and race and background, start to split apart into uncountable factions.

3. The external animosity of the United States paralyzes internal movements, organized to act against the regime, no matter how well intentioned they are. No one wants to risk a serious move against the regime while there is an enemy at the door. The United States has not shown any sings that is interested in improving Syria’s internal situation or helping Syria. What the U.S. is asking for clearly and loudly are changes in external policies, period. Most of those policies are not attractive to the Syrian opposition. The regime is popular on most of these issues, such as the occupation of Palestine, the Golan, or Iraq.

A coup-d’etat at this moment risks being labeled American-made even if it does not have the slightest connection to America.

The present sentiment in the Syrian street is anti-American. This means that any opposition that seeks support from the Syrian street will be anti-American and will be spurned by the West, as happened with Hamas. Any opposition that seeks external support will lose the street, as is the case with Khaddam. We are in a tricky situation; the regime understands this well and has exploited it well.

4. The organization of the Army and security forces was masterminded very cleverly by the late president Hafez Assad to prevent coups similar to those that rocked Syria during the three decades after Syrian independence. The Syrian forces capable of carry out a coup-d’etat (Army, Special Forces, Police Force, and Security Apparatuses) are all bulky and centralized with an extremely complicated command structure, purposefully designed to frustrate plotters. Lateral communication is absolutely forbidden between units; all communications between units must travel through a cumbersome vee, first ascending up the command structure to the top level of one unit before descending down again through the ranks of the other unit. Most importantly, the many units and departments have an interlocking command structure so that no entity is autonomous. They cannot act without several other departments knowing about it. For example, any air force unit is under the influence of aerial-security (Mukhabarat Jawiyyah), army-security (Mukhabarat Askariyyah), the morale-guidance headquarters (Idarat el Tawjih al-manawi), military police, air force headquarters, army general headquarters, the Republican Guards, and the Palace. Officers with loyalties to theses various branches of security are sprinkled liberally throughout the security forces. This command structure makes the military practically useless against foreign enemies because of its stultifying array of conflicting loyalties, but extremely effective at guaranteeing internal stability. Any attempt to rebel is quickly thwarted and can be dealt with on the spot.

5. Most Syrians, as unhappy as they are with the present regime, see no point in changing the regime without a solid alternative. The opposition has yet to present a clear vision for the future that would inspire people to risk the few joys of Syrian life that they have, security being at the top of the list. Vague and generalized talk about democracy and a better life are the only promises made by present regime-change advocates. They aren’t reassuring.

6. We have to admit that corruption has insinuated its deep into the souls of almost every Syrian. It is highly questionable that any form of regime change is going to achieve real economic or social change, without being preceded by a long process of grass roots reform and cultural revival.

We do have a corrupt leadership, but even an honest leadership would find it impossible to overcome the pervasive culture of bribery, disrespect for hard work, and indifference to public interest that is shared by state, and indeed, private sector employees. Most Syrians’ sense of virtue has become so crooked that fooling a customer is defined as cleverness.

Can change really be enforced from the top down? The regime changers avoid this thorny question, but it must be aired and debated. Are we willing to act, think, and work differently when the regime is changed?

B. Reasons specific to Alawi Syrian citizens:

The main reason that prevents Alawis from being active in supporting any regime change plans is their fear of the “other.” Those who propose regime change without explaining to us what the end of Alawi rule will mean for thousands of ordinary Alawis will get no where.

There are two sorts of “others” in Syria:
a. First are the Sunni religious and Kurdish opposition leaders who say bluntly and clearly: “We want to end the Alawi rule”.

b. Second is everyone else, who says shyly and elliptically: “The monopoly over top army and security posts by one sect should end.”

Not a single Syrian intellectual, political leader, or plain good-will writer, has ever dealt with the following fundamental question:

What exactly are your plans for the Alawis after we give up power?

Why do answers to this question have to be vague and general? What are your plans for the tens of thousands of Alawis who work in the army and other security apparatuses? What are your plans for the republican guard and the special forces that are staffed primarily by Alawis? Are you going to pay them pensions if you decide to disband their forces? Or will they be fired and dumped on the streets, humiliated and ostracized as the Americans did in Iraq? Do you have any idea of the impact on security such dismissals would engender? Will you be satisfied with a scenario by which these forces remain in their positions in exchange for their giving up political power?

What are your plans for the tens of thousands of Alawis who work as government employees in many non-functional establishments? Are you going to close these establishments? Do you have any idea of the social impact of such closures? Are you going to stop improvement projects in the costal area as all past Sunni governments have done since independence? Are you going to reverse confiscation laws to return land taken from Sunni landlords and distributed among tens of thousands of farmers?

Are you going to demand that security officials stand trial for their actions during the last 35 years? What is the highest rank that you are going to hold responsible? Are you going to ask for trials for past deeds? How about the present leading elite? Who exactly are the people you want to hold responsible? And If you do bring them to trial, are you going to hold the Sunni elite to the same standard? Will Sunni families who have benefited from the regime through monopolies and sweet-heart deals, such as the Nahhas family in Damascus and the Jood family in Latakia, be treated as Alawis are?

These questions should be answered not only by opposition intellectuals, but also by every non-Alawi Syrian. What do you want to do with us if we give you back political power? Are you really willing to live side by side with us, to cherish Syria’s diversity, and consider the past 40 years merely another failed episode in our long history of failed revolutions.

A change for the better must include all sectors of Syrian society, including Alawi Syrians. Because Alawis control all the main security forces of the state, regime change will not happen without assuring them that they too will have a place in Syria’s new future. Without such assurances, there will be no Alawi Musharif, nor will any other army General carry out a coup d’etat that will bring anything other than chaos to Syria.

Syrians refuse to speak openly and honestly about our most important challenges; so much is kept in the dark. But this is no time for “shatara” or dissembling. We must confront and discuss religious and communal issues directly and honestly. If Sunnis really want regime change, then they have to address the Alawi issue head on. Unless the answers to these questions are cleared up by all concerned forces and individuals, Alawis, no matter how dissatisfied and disappointed with the present leadership, will not entertain the idea of regime change; they will not relinquish the ramparts of power.


At 8/30/2006 09:42:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

I agree ,reform does not start from the top but from the bottom and i would not trust that the Sunni will hold the corrupt Sunni to the same standard ,look at khaddam ,after many years of power and corruption they are willing to forgive him ,that happened in the late sventies when our university teachers were killed just because they were Alawat or Christians ,so i would not trust a sunni takeover, so the question comes on how to empower the people to govern themselves ,that come by having a new sencess and registering people where they live not where they com from and registering them to vote where they live then devide each county (Muhafaza)for example Homes into small townes like Bab Sbaa,Bab Drabe ,Hamedia,Mahatta Inshaat then organize elections in these towns for Mayer and a city counsel of about 9 people the Mayer and the city counsel are resposible for day to day city work ,contracts trash collection building permits , town,s police and are resposible to the people in their town ,they all should be from that town and live there (not that they once lived there ) deregulation and self goverment is essential to Syria,s future and that will prevetns any group from imposing rulers on others ,the tradition of appointing sombody from Aleppo to be county exec in Homs or other county should go away and each county should have county exec from that county,election could be done by a primery were anybody could run and a runoff were the first two will run ,revenew for the towns could be obtained via property taxes ,the regime should not try to dismantle itself as it offers somthing essential to Syria,s economic ,politecal and Legal reform ( SECURITY AND SAFTY OF THE PEOPLE )

At 8/30/2006 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

One thing remains an obstacle to regime change through a coup d'etat, or by an Alawi revolt no matter what the Sunnis provide of answers to Kuder's questions:

- It is that no two Syrians can communicate effectively without fearing each other, as Khuder said in his same artilce.. This is the biggest truth, and this is why No Sunni, no Alawi, or any one else dares to protest or to discuss a regime change inside the army, the security forces, or anywhere else. Assad used to execute officers by the hundreds starting from 1970, and my own father was invited to such a party at one time (A party of execution to intimidate those invited). Friends betrayed friends, and believe me, no one trust any one, Alawis or Sunnis for spies are of all colours and races.

The only way this regime can be defeated is for Sunnis to refuse to accept any position in the government. This is how you defeat an army, if you are really serious about a regime change, but we see that Sunnis compete to be appointed by Assad to please him, so they can steal, well in the shadow of an "Alawi Regime".

At 8/31/2006 01:31:00 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Very interesting questions.

If I may add to them some of mine which I posted Sep 2005 in Farid Ghadry's "Syria comment Plus"

I was commenting on something he claimed. He said:

"It is our duty as Syrians to insure that we transition ourselves to a democracy peacefully, to protect the minorities including the Alawite sect from acts of revenge or violence and to assist the Kurds who suffered greatly"

Here are the questions I had, they cover the case of Alawis as well as the case of the Baathists, and other "corrupt officials" and "thugs" ... and all those who should be "replaced" in case we have a regime change:

Sounds just about right. Except, how do you do that? ... those who have the urge to take revenge will not ask your opinion. They wll not relax until they do it. Besides, your opinion of the "regime" indicated that you have some good punishment in mind for the men of that regime. You know, all the "thugs and corrupt criminls" ..etc. So where will the line be drawn in punishing these responsible? ... Army generals? ... You claimed elsewhere that you will allow Alawites to remain in the Army (not to repeat the Iraq mistake). Soldiers only? ... how about the high ranking officers? What about all those who are in the different Intelligence services tens of thousands of men that you call thugs. What do you suggest to do with them? forgive them? or have 50,000 political prisoners? Then come the "Baathists" ... I am sure you will also propose not to make the same mistakes of Iraq, so you will not punish those who were not serious Baathists. Let's say that eight out of ten Baathists joined only to help them find he right government job. That still leaves you with 200,000 serious corrupt Baathists. More political prisoners? or simply more Syrian adults that will not be employed by the state anymore.

Then tell me what you will do to about the increasingly fundamentalist younger Syrians who are not only frustrated with the bad economy, but are mad about what the United States is doing in Iraq and what the Israelis are doing to their fellow Muslims in Palestine. How will you represent a Nation that is mostly Anti-American, just like many other Arab and Islamic countries. THe rest are governed by dictators who do not allow their people to express their Anti-American feelings. But you claim you will be a true Democratic leader.

At 8/31/2006 02:19:00 AM, Blogger FreeSyrian said...

There is no doubt that the Khuder's questions are valid and fair. They need to be addressed in order to plan the way back from the slum where most Syrians, regardless of sect, are stuck at for now.

I wonder though if it is also fair to ask, what should Sunnis expect from yet another Alawite officer planning a coup? If he is going to bring his extended family out to fill-up the pockets just the same way the Assad clan did for three generation now. Is there enough economic incentives left for them to tap into it to silence for their thirst for petrol-dollars and other fine awards similar to Syria-Tel? Why should any Syrian wish for a coup? Gen. Musharraf is not a valid example for comparison. He actually demolished a democratically elected government. I do not want to downplay some of the questions, like what will happen to the employees in the government, but I do not think that only the Alawite employees will be hurt from restructuring the government following a regime change. I could assure you that that a Theocratic government will keep some of the employees who are most qualified to carry the status quo and no reform will be pain-free. If anyone has a pill for that moment when reform truly starts, it will be either a pill of cyanide or Asprin. Either sudden death or temporary fixes while the reform go underway. Look at Russia, it has almost finished the process of reversing “true” socialism. I am not sure we will have the same patience in Syria during the transformation. Syrians lack patience and like Churchill said: “Each Syrian thinks he is a president.”

If Bashar Assad continues his current policies in Lebanon, it is just a matter of time before the US Administration will conclude that Syria is one of the weakest links in the current edition of the “axis of evil” (Syria, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, etc), then moves unilaterally or within another “alliance of the willing” to invade. That could be a limited scale invasion by G.W. Bush, because he is bent on bringing Jesus back and will continue to experiment with disaster in the middle-east till he sees the light at the end of the Armageddon tunnel or Jesus’ blessing, not necessarily in that order. Point here: if an invasion takes place, the Alawite community takes the hardest hit in casualties because they are the spine of the Syrian army. The same army that cannot protect much beyond their superiors’ lined up Benz-o-mobiles at the gate of their mansions and Chalets. This would rather leave no time or space for a mutually beneficial elaboration on the good points Khuder brought forth. The army will most likely turn into another “resistance” movement hitting back at the invaders as well as Sunni prospective leaders lining up to replace Assad. Hence the naming; Iraq II.

Election years in the US pump weird hormones in the arteries of GOP-led administrations. While I truly hope no invasion materializes unlike Ghadry's nightly prayers, I could assure you that it is the Alawites who will need then to reach out and work on an answer to each of the questions you asked. Otherwise, the ark will flip over due to plague caused by the horrendous corruption, under planning, mismanagement, pseudo-socialism, nepotism and neglect, and some of the ark riders might end on the bottom of the ark floating in the sea with some interesting company they were not planning for. And I do not mean shell-fish here, because there are some groups across the border eying Syria and awaiting in line to carry out similar scenarios like in Iraq if an invasion materializes.

I should plan to expand on the questions but hope that by the time I finish, they will be relevant.

At 8/31/2006 03:05:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

I will repeat what I have said earlier on Syriacomment in which Josh was kind enough to post. Its a suggestion of what i see as the most ideal situation for the time being. And yes, i know its wishful thinking.

“The one and only option that I see as a way out for the leadership is the option they are likely to take if hell should freeze over, and that is to open up...exponentially!!! By allowing real freedom of speech, press, and seriously pave the road to a true multi-party system.

Syria is steam cooker ready to explode and the government shouldn't just loosen the steam valve but to take the whole lid off. While it's clear that crisis management and pro-activeness is not Damascus's strongest asset, one can only hope that realism is. And at this point of time cutting your losses is the soundest strategy, and losing some of the Ba'ath's influence is a much more pleasant scenario than losing the whole shebang. If they really wanted to (and they DON'T) they can take the lead in the mid-term and chaperon the transition into a political system in which the Ba'ath and Alwaite echelon can still play a pivotal role in Syrian society. They have always excelled in maintaining security in such a hostile region, but they have failed miserably in good governance and that's where other SECULAR and realistic parties can play a role. Opposition parties should not, and don't seem to, kid themselves in thinking that Syria's external weakness will translate into a fatal internal hemorrhage, so dialogue must commence even if they prefer a different leadership.”

At 8/31/2006 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Alex, you seem to not know that Ghadri's position has eveolved by a light year since the date of your post you are referring us to. Check Ghadri's new position listed in Joshua's previous thread.

At 8/31/2006 09:27:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...,0,383186.story?coll=la-home-headlines

At 8/31/2006 09:50:00 AM, Blogger Puppeteer said...

Ths might hurt a lot, but Alawis should have thought twice before imposint their Mediocrity and Minority politics. They should have acted better towards the urban citizens, Damasceans, Aleppeans and not to mention Hamawis. They shouldn't have insulted all the urbans with their acts and rapes and forced secularization. I see it's even more shamful on them to throw even this blame on the Suni majority of the country. No, don't worry about Sunnis nor the other sects, we're not traitors, criminals, fanatics and scumbags, the image you so much want to project on us. Don't worry about us, as we're all Syrian and United above anything else.

At 8/31/2006 10:51:00 AM, Blogger trustquest said...

It is very useful article and it is a fresh talk to dare to call things as it is. Although the
Assad family is mainly the real ruler however; Alawites still the real backbone to the ruler. The question raised by the author is what should be done is really a question on everyone’s mind. Norman started really good suggestions for new practical governing system, however still the main question can be answered like this. The Alawites represented by their elders, Shieks, elites should when they realize the problem to start fast to ease the problem before it get out of control. As many realized, any ruler has no chance for a dynasty in this DNA age. The first step to ease the coming change is to encourage civil societies and change. It is better to cancel law #49 now before the change and pressure should be on the ruler by his supporter to diffuse the coming chaos before any change could come. It is necessary to start reforms and Alawites should push the ruler to do so as innocent criminal suggesting. I think the writer of article raised a very legit questions and the answer lies in the hands of the elders and the wise Alawites who will start removing part of the harms done in the past years.

At 8/31/2006 10:59:00 AM, Blogger Philip I said...

Up until the early 1970s, Alawi girls from the age of 6 were still being sold by their poor parents as maids to rich families in Damascus, Aleppo and elsewhere. Let's say that the pendulum had to swing the other way sooner or later. Now Alawis have secured their future and their children's future. I call this social justice - up to a point.

Now the pendulum is in danger of swinging back. And so it goes on and on.

Until we put in place a political system that guarantees every citizen equal rights and a voice as well as sufficient state power behind the enforcement of these rights we will remain hostage to one group or another taking control of our lives, both to protect and enrich itself.

These are not vague statements from starry-eyed democrats who have no practical solutions to offer. Innocent Criminal is spot on. For a start, open up the system gradually by freeing the media, amending the constitution to limit the executive powers of the president and Baath party, allow the formation of other (secular) parties, clean up and strengthen the legal system and stop brainwashing school children with empty slogans and personality cults.

I don't know why we have to identify people by their religion or ethnicity. ID cards should not show anyone's religion. Being a Sunni does not make you more Syrian than an Alawi or a Durzi or a Christian. It is dangerous to talk of Sunni majority and Alawi minority. Sunni people might elect other Sunni people to a local council or national parliament but people are not stupid. They will learn over time to elect those who are best qualified for the job and serve the interests of the whole community rather than one religious group aganist another.

Whoever wrote this post is trying to underline the futility of trying to change the status quo. There is always an alternative. Gradual change is both viable and peaceful providing it is genuine, fair and persistent. Those in power should look at pendulums more often and come to their senses before it is too late.

At 8/31/2006 12:52:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Back in February 2006, I had written a piece entitled "Hugo Chavez Economics For Syria?"

I had concluded the article by stating the following:

"If foreign investors agree to invest in Syria, we should thank and receive them with open arms. Chavez may ask them to go to hell. Hopefully, the Syrian people are too smart to emulate him."

I guess the Syrian people decided that they do love Mr. Chavez with delegates of the two countries signing a total of 13 political and economic agreements. Pictures of Chavez lined the streets of downtown Damascus as the Venzuelam leader drove through a sea of thousends of Syrians waving banners and flags en route to his meeting with Assad.

At 8/31/2006 01:36:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

"[i]I don't know why we have to identify people by their religion or ethnicity. ID cards should not show anyone's religion[/i]"

That is how the situation was before Assad took power in 1970. He revived sectarianism, and tribalism in Syria on purpose. In fact his brother Rifaat started to do so since 1967 when he controlled Saraya Al Difaa that prepared for his brother to take power, all in all with the help of the Sunni Commerical and religionist establishments.

At 8/31/2006 01:38:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...


"Gradual change is both viable and peaceful providing it is genuine, fair and persistent. Those in power should look at pendulums more often and come to their senses before it is too late."

They do understand. But the difference is in their prefered speed of "gradually" and the extent of the desired change they are going for.

There are other issues ... no time to discuss them here, if I had 2 hours I could perhaps convince you that this is not the optimal time for dramatic changes.

But it is the time for starting the process for sure. Problem is, the regime does not give enough hope to the opposition as to how far they are willing to go eventually. Therefore, those who are not content with the status quo start pushing for more, faster. The regime then pushes the brakes.

At 8/31/2006 02:06:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Ameen, religion is not on syrian ID cards.

At 8/31/2006 03:15:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

Sectarian is a tool used by a minority ruled dictatorship to secure them and keep tight screws on a county Sectarian and dictatorship comes hand in hand. Now Syria MUST BE inters the deAlawification mentality and deba’athification process, and builds a sectarian blind civil society ASAP. I know it’s hard to do, but we must start now. I don’t agree with Mr Khadur demands and assurances, No at this stage has the right of the authority to give assurances for amnesty to the present and past criminals and corrupted individuals. And I don’t except the arguments that, because the Sunni did us Alawis bad things, we had the right to kill, steal, salve, imprison and rule Syria until it’s completely bankrupt!!!
deba’athification is a must deAlawification the mentality and sole of the Army, build it as a national army and convert it form security dictatorship protector program to national army and THIS is a must……….. The Germans done the same with the Nazis
Syrian needs to set up a court to try all who had committed crimes and stop at that. Syrian should NOT apportion blame to the Alawis sect for the ills of the regime.

At 8/31/2006 03:16:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/31/2006 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Fares said...

Insteresting discussion going on there...prove that Syrians are very smart. I am glad that my article "Looking for a good Syrian General" raised up some issues and started a serious debate.

Yes again people are trying to convince us that the Status Quo is the best for Syria.

This is not acceptable anymore is getting too frustrating... we want
actions and fast: Liberating the political prisoners within 2 months (before Nov 16, 7raket aklil khara) would be a start.

Things will go downhill otherwise. Stop debating and start pressure, whoever can should do something to help Syria

At 8/31/2006 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/31/2006 04:55:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/31/2006 05:21:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Ameen Always said...
Atassi said "No at this stage has the right of the authority to give assurances for amnesty to the present and past criminals and corrupted individuals"...

As I understood it, the writer is not asking for "assurances" from any body. he is merely stating a fact. The fact that for an Alawi officer or more to think of committing his/their blood to think about a coup d'etat, he/they must hear different slogans from those Sunnis that blame everything on Alawis. Logically speaking; you want an Alawi officer to "liberate" those vocal Sunnis when those Sunnis do not diffrentiate between one Alawi and another, between an Alawi who was a victim of the Assad regime, and an Alawi who oppressed him, and at the same time, they blame every bad on Earth that happened to Syria on Alawis, and amuse them with big threats such as "Leave the cities, and back to your mountains"..etc..

So, again, no one is asking for giving those assurances from Sunnis toward alawis, but how would those ignorant Sunnis who keep barking that they are democratic, and opposing a dictatorial regime, and who at the same time are calling for ethnic cleansing --- wish for Alawi soldiers or officers to support them (no matter how much they may hate Assad)? A little of intelligence is urged from them, and by the way, these people seem to have no intelligence what so ever!

At 8/31/2006 06:51:00 PM, Blogger Atassi said...

You missed the point
The Syrian needs to set up a court to try all who had committed crimes and stop at that!!!
. Syrian should NOT apportion blame to the Alawis sect for the ills of the regime.
READ .. If you think you so intelligence and better then us, Please
THINK, who had committed crimes can be anyone, Sunni, Alawi, ..
They will HAVE to be face what bad deed they have done.
Now. Sunni or Alawi offices will be committing their blood for a better future.

At 8/31/2006 07:29:00 PM, Blogger Ameen Always said...


There is no difference in our point of view, I think.

I am merely restating the argument of the author against an opinon of findoing a Syrian Musherif.

But as I understood your last post, I see no disagreement between what I think and your point. However, what you want is not what many of those sick Opposition groups are propagating!, and that is the main point!


At 8/31/2006 08:50:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

OK, Atassi

What is your definition of "a crime"? killing only or theaft of public money? if stealing is a crime then what amounts are considered worthy of a trial?

How far back do you suggest they go in punishing crimes?

Would you punish those who acted on orders of superior officers?

Would you punish those who killed while they were in Lebanon? (crimes against Lebanese people)

Whould you punish those who "tortured" people? and in that case what do you define as "torture" slapping a prisoner on the face would qualify?

Who will set the standards and limits of who should be punished? Based on what rules?

Have you seen how complex and difficult, and lengthy, is the trial of Saddam? assume you have a few thousand "criminals" .. the most serious ones only (out of over a million Bathists and Army and intelligence officers), to send to trial. Does Syria have the proper legal system to do it?

I am sure you have a few names that you would like to see punished. But the problem is that others also have a different et of names in mind... if there is no universally accepted process for selecting the unlucky ones who we classify as "most criminal" then you might want to think again about the practical aspects of the punishment option.

And, again, we won't be there any time soon.

At 8/31/2006 10:11:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Hate will destroy Syria and while some will seek amnesty to the Sunnies while demanding severe punishments to others , I say amnesty to all and start from a clean records to all people ,we can get the money back from people who stole money through Estate taxes.

At 8/31/2006 10:28:00 PM, Blogger Yaman said...

Good subject discussion.My input is very simple. I strongly believe that democracy is not for us.simply it will not work in Syria,or in any other Arab country for that matter.If things are to be changed in syria without causing a catastrohpic consequences,an Alawi general should always be at the head of the military establishment, be it the intellegence, the interior ministry,and the defense ministry, and leave the civilian establishment for the sunnis and other segments of the syrian society. This would ensure safe transition,and would keep the country together.In Turkey, the army is the guarantor of secularism.In syria the army would guard secularism and social coherence.

At 9/01/2006 12:01:00 AM, Blogger Atassi said...

Indeed it’s going to be a very complicated and lengthy process, I can’t answer your questions since I don’t consider myself legally versed nor has a good knowledge of what the future constitutions would spell the baseline and standers for this kind of trials. I sure documented crimes against the civilian can be prosecuted easily, legal experts from the UN and other NGO’s; can assure such a task will be fairly accomplished.
Alex, No one can play God’s roles, but, I deeply believe we must do our best to push for justices; otherwise, we can’t go forward...

At 9/01/2006 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Ameen Always said...

Justice should take place. It is not right that those who committed crimes over 36 years should be set free and continue to enjoy their thefts, though I know most of them have US or Australian passports and will leave Syria and settle with their money over there.

However, 52 most criminals name should be posted in a deck of cards like those of Saddam and his associates. 52 will be enough for me, and I assure you that our justice system will not be overwhelemed. We shall keep the actual National Exceptional Security judge (Al Nouri) to perform his justice like he is doing now, but on those new names. That will be fast.

Thank you

At 9/01/2006 11:02:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

more consessions,by Asad,he promised Anan not to arm HA, this regime needs to be exposed.
also for the syrians,if you give up liberty for security,you will have neither.

At 9/03/2006 03:22:00 PM, Blogger samimas said...

I don't care what happens to alwais or sunnis corrupt employees. I don't care what happens to Ba'the or the criminal officers. all i care about is that justice should rule. We cannot just forget 35 years of corruption like if they where seconds. each and every criminal, sunni, alawi, christian, or atheist, big or small, employee or army officer got to face justice even if it means the trial of 20 million syrians including me, a trial where even the judges are the defendants .

my comment might seem irresponsible to some of you. It's not grudge or hatred againt any sect or colour. But in my opinion a ture democrat state won't be built but on justice.

At 9/03/2006 05:39:00 PM, Blogger FreeSyrian said...

A response from an SHRC forum thread:

In order to answer Khuder’s questions, it is rather imperative to list all the possible trigger of regime change in Syria:
Street Revolt / Civil Disobedience:
With the economic status quo, the general population is very aware of the increasing hardships facing the average middle-class Syrian. For the last 16 years, the middle-class has diminished throwing many Syrians under poverty line, while the elite class increased wealth but changed demographics. This is not a secret, and it is well documented and discussed all over the Internet. A civil disobedience to be effective has to last three days to a week. It would be very challenging to stage it and sustain it knowing how deep the Syrian security apparatus has penetrated the population. No two Syrians can talk freely without fearing that one of the two is “an informant”. Civil unrest could result from a “trigger event” such as price increase of basic necessities, or as a reflex to a crime committed by the “Shebeeha” Mafia in a big city. Though the security forces could be called upon to quell such an uprising, but in this age of highly visible and facilitated communication (Internet, Satellite Phone, Digital Camera equipped phones and highly connected media) the impact will be huge on the credibility and stability of the regime. It must be mentioned that not all security forces are living up a good life like people assume. Do not be shocked to see members of the Alawite civilian population as well as the voiceless military lower ranks take part in such a peaceful revolt.

A split in the army ranks is imminent in such a scenario, because the elite officers who enjoy mansions built for free by the army core of engineers will try to crush it, unless they agreed ahead to be part of a cover-up, while the lower ranks are most likely to join in.

It is very critical for such a populist movement not to raise any sectarian banners that draws division or fear in the Alawite or other religious minorities. The country is challenged by a lot of problems. The biggest and most dangerous ones are not caused by the Alawites or any minority in general but rather by certain specific families and their partners in systemic and destructive theft of the country resources, which will deem it futureless. Any sectarian violence will draw the country to a civil war far worse than Iraq, due to the different composition of the Syrian people and army.

Military Coup: One has to admit that it is a far-fetched idea, because the closely monitored communication among any units in the Syrian army. One could be sure it will be a tribal revolt within the Alawite community by under-represented clans, which were purged from the inner decision circles over the last 6 years. It is feared that in the case of coup that the regime could start a war on Israel to throw a net of awkwardness in the face of anyone who dares to challenge its legitimacy. This was done in Lebanon to stall the International Court investigating Rafiq Hariri’s assassination and it would not be a shock if the same method was followed in Syria.

The toppling of Bashar Assad’s regime is the best possible scenario if it was preceded by an agreement on the steps that will ensue to ensure all parties’ involvement in the process. Since the majority of the army command is composed mostly of Alawites, it is rather almost guaranteed that the coup leader is a member of the sect.
For this to work, the Alawite community has to receive assurances and guarantees of the next steps to follow. The next-steps are the most crucial, because they need to:
1. Alleviate the fears of the Alawite community of any blind-sided retribution by Sunnis
2. Immediate apprehension of all crime lords / gangs in the Syrian north west who are likely to attempt to launch attacks against the general public to cause chaos
3. A systemic, open-minded, open-hearted and logical transfer of power to a regime that is:
a. Freely elected under monitoring of the UN
b. Represents all the people of the country
c. Respect the cultural attributes of all religions, races, nationalities and political schools thoughts
4. Complete cleanse of the Judicial branch of government to guarantee fairness and objectiveness of the next Justice System for Syria due to the huge role it must undertake in the shaping of the reforms
5. Closely studied and methodical paced restructuring of the army to be a professional army to employ best practices in functionality and the best of breed of the youth of the next generations, but under the supervision and advisory role of the current joint chiefs of staff who agree to be part of the movement
6. The dissolution of the current National Progressive Front and replacing it with an expanded forum of all political parties
7. Closely studied and paced review of all actions of the March 8th 1963 coup to decide what is feasible to reinstate personal property damages to families impacted. It is understood here that such reviews are to be monitored by Syrian and International attorneys to make sensible adjustments without wasting the liveliness of farmers and workers
8. Blocking the transfer of any funds outside of Syria for a period of time decided later while monitoring incoming funds for a period of time to be decided
9. Confiscation of all government records dealing with projects since 1963 and subjecting it to audits by neutral 3rd parties
10. Subjecting any companies that took part in economic fraud to suspension awaiting trial

Though no such plans are underway, but it could be easily assumed that many officers in the regime are:

1. Frustration resulting from their marginalization in order to give certain names full authority over the whole country
2. The power consolidation that placed perfectly unqualified members of the most inner circle over the vast majority of the decision making spots
3. Their observation, just like the whole people of the country, that the Makhlouf clan are the monopoly over any source of income and economic development in the country
4. Uneasiness over the total lack of preparedness for the next confrontation with Israel due to mismanagement of funds and pre-occupation of the Assad family with indulging in milking the Syrian economy, while paying no attention to the army
5. Insults and total lack of respect by members of the Assad family toward members of the armed forces

It is expected that their demands of the next government / regime are:

1. Categorical Rejection to Selective Punishment of certain names of the regime
2. Assurances of Amnesty to all members of the armed forces who followed orders and took part in the massacres of the 1980s
3. A phased approach to the de-Baathification of government functions rather than a massive purge, which is guaranteed to bring the government in all its branches to a screeching halt
4. Sizable training for new careers for any government employees or army personnel who would lose their jobs in order to carry out reforms
5. Balancing functionality and national security with any measures aiming to enforce “quotas” in the Syrian Army
6. Abolishment of the death penalty in the constitution
7. Blocking the extradition of any Syrian army personnel to any country in the world with the exception of the Assad family members
8. Protection of the Alawite villages from vigilantes if needed
9. Establishment of a two layered legislative government branch, one that will be district-based to be a sounding board of the communities and populations it represents and another that will give equal weight to all Syrian minorities, cultures, regardless of headcount

It is rather fair in return for the Syrian people and the opposition groups to expect the following from the Syrian army:

1. Immediate control of the Syrian army of all Alawite communities, especially in the major cities of the coastal region to block any attempt by the “Shabeeha” mafia gangs from unleashing any attacks against the general population
2. Immediate arrest of members of the Assad and Makhlouf families in addition to a certain list of personalities to be supplied later
3. Sealing all ports of entry and exit to Syria to prevent the escape of the criminal families
4. The freeing of all political prisoners
5. The protection of all opposition and civil society forum members from criminal attacks
6. Surrounding and sealing all financial institutions to prevent the theft of hard currency and precious metal by fleeing enemies of the people and army
7. Neutrality in the case of a civil disobedience or street revolt
8. Preserving and protecting any government and army records from shredding or destruction in order to pursue all cases of corruption and attempt to restore the funds back to the Central Bank of Syria

Invasion (The Disastrous Scenario): Israel strikes Iran and taken the opportunity to stun Syria. The army could only retaliate with missiles since the Syrian Air-force are a question mark after hearing no news on any recent purchases of airplanes. From examining the Lebanon 33-day war, one could be sure that Israel will use a different method this time considering lessons learnt in Lebanon. This scenario is swift and will deteriorate the grip of the army on the ground, but will definitely align the vast majority of the people behind the regime, just likely to what happened in Lebanon, which proved that when the other side of the equation includes Israel, everyone will jump to aid the attacked side. In this scenario, the Alawite minority will suffer terrible loss under the weapons supplied by the US to Israel. If the army gets weakened by such a war, the Kurds might take the opportunity to try to change the situation on the ground in the North East.

This is what I have so far.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home