Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Time for change" by Sami Moubayed with Commentary

Sami's latest article is right on. Syrians will put up with sanctions lite if the government moves ahead purposefully with internal reform designed to free the economy. Of course, it is hard to do this when being isolated. All the same, there is a tremendous amount that can be done to the economy with or without Western support. Syria is not a hostage on this issue. Sami is urging the government to move more quickly, but there is no reason to believe it will. The President did not present a compelling reform agenda in his speech. He could have use his speech, which gave adamant political support for his family and state security structures, to make clear that the price of that support would be real economic reform. He did not. In many ways, that was the most depressing part: the silence on reform.

Pressing ahead with reform will create short term instability and internal wrangling at a time when the president believes he can least indulge such divisions, but doing nothing is worse. Syrians must be compensated by forward movement on the domestic front if they are to accept backward movement and increased isolation on the foreign front. Bashar must show them that he has a plan.

The defiant tone of Bashar's speech may turn out to be good in some respects. The UN had given Mehlis a carte blanche to diddle around with the most important officials of Syria with no limitations. The presidency was clearly targeted. No country could allow such liberties to a foreign power - not even a country as weak as Syria. It would have opened the door for America and the West to carry out agendas well beyond finding justice for the death of Hariri. It is clear that the West does not know exactly what it wants from Syria and is making up its policy as it goes. Most thinking people suspect contradictory agenda's would quickly surface, i.e. differences between France and the US and between the UN and France. Bush's Nov 11 demand that Syria "start importing democracy" is a case in point. We moved from a Qaddafi deal to democracy over-night. Syrians may want more democracy, but few want it dictated by the US or implemented through the most recent UN resolution and by Mehlis. Maybe some day they will decide that only Washington can instruct them in democracy building and that sticking with their government is damaging. That day has not arrived. The US should pressure Damascus for more democracy, to observe important international protocols on human rights, and to follow due process in the law. Trying to subvert the state will not advance this cause or reassure most Syrians.

The big mistake in Bashar's speech, to my thinking, was his ferocious attack on Lebanon’s leadership. Here is the excerpt:

The truth is that today Lebanon has become a passage, a factory, and a financier for all these conspiracies. In other words, Mr. Al-Siniora could not make good on…or maybe he was not allowed to make good on (his commitment), because he is the slave of a slave. What is happening now has nothing to do with Al-Hariri’s assassination.
The accusation that Lebanon has become a factory of conspiracies against Syria exacerbated justifiable Lebanese fears. It has given the US a real opening to claim that Syria is hatching plans to intervene in Lebanon through more than legitimate political and economic persuasion. President Asad must make it perfectly clear in the future that Syria does not contemplate the use of force in Lebanon. The "slave of a slave" insult was damaging and suggests that Syria has yet to understand the full implications of Lebanese independence. He will have to use diplomacy to help his allies in Lebanon, not undermine them with outlandish insults to their Lebanese partners. He placed Hizbullah and Amal in a terrible fix, not to mention the many Sunnis who are uncomfortable with the way Lebanon has given western ambassadors such latitude to influence internal policy in the country. There are many Lebanese who value good relations with Syria. Bashar must get them on his side. He cannot ask Lebanese to be either with him or against him on the Lebanon issue. They will choose Lebanon and not Syria. The lesson of resolution 1559 was that no Lebanese party wanted Syria to remain in Lebanon. Hizbullah gave Syria a kiss good-bye at the door, but it didn't give the traditional Arab entreaty: "Lissa bakir. Shrib kaman Ahwey" [It's still early. Drink another coffee.]

On Iraq and Palestine, Bashar was very moderate. In fact Ibrahim Hamidi pointed out to me that Bashar actually moderated Syria's traditional position on both countries. In Iraq he condemned all terrorism, whether carried out against civilians or state targets. He asked for good diplomatic relations with the Iraqi state. He did not talk about legitimate resistance. As for Palestine-Israel, he said he would support Abu Mazen and made no reference to Palestinian resistance groups. How much one should take these statements as an indication of policy shift is not clear, but there is a potential opening, which will undoubtedly go unnoticed.

Time for change
Damascus launches an internal reform programme in a bid to appease the Syrian street, Sami Moubayed reports from the Syrian capital
Sunday 13 Nov. 2005 from al-Ahram Weekly

The Damascus government believes that the only way the Syrians will firmly reject the impact of UN Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis's report and Security Council Resolution 1636 is if it creates a timely, thorough internal reform programme. Judging from the Iraqi precedent, the Syrian government realised that a population that is dissatisfied will not defend its government in times of crisis.

But the fact is that the majority of Syrians are dissatisfied not because of the lack of political freedoms or because of Syria's current standing in the international community. On the contrary most Syrians today are rather apolitical. Rather they are dissatisfied for reasons that merely cosmetic change will not rectify.

Many of the promised socio-economic and political reforms were originally expected in June 2005 following a Baath Party conference.

The new reforms are two-fold: on the one hand political, and on the other socio-economic and educational. The political reforms are intended to satisfy the intellectuals, activists and politicised Syrians who have been complaining that political change has been slow since 2000. These people, however, represent a minority of Syria's 18 million.

When he came to power in 2000, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad promised economic changes and regime officials said that political change would follow. The argument was that political reforms would not be appreciated by a population that, first and foremost, demanded better schools, higher wages, lower real estate prices and better hospitals.

And Al-Assad promised to live up to these demands. In 2003-2004, 5.1 million Syrians -- around 30 per cent of the population -- were declared to be living below the UN poverty line, while in 2005 it was announced that two million Syrians could not even meet their basic economic needs. It was these people, rather than the politicised Syrians, who were declared to be the priority on the agenda of the government.

In 2000, Al-Assad took over a stagnated economy with a growth rate of 2.4 per cent. The population, however, was growing at a rate of 2.7 per cent. The economic measures taken by the new president paid off initially and by 2003 -- mainly because of trade with Iraq -- the economic growth rate increased to 3.4 per cent.

But when Iraq was invaded things fell apart not only in Syria but through much of the Middle East. In 2004, the economic growth rate dropped to 1.7 per cent. Oil production -- which accounts for 75 per cent of Syria's exports -- reached 604,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 1996 (the highest point in years) but declined to 450,000 bpd in 2005.

One of the earliest decrees passed by Al-Assad concerned the privatisation of banks, breaking the government monopoly over the banking sector that had been in force since 1963. This reform has not been effective since to date credit loans to individuals have not been issued by private banks. Instead loans are given only to influential businessmen whose reputations guarantee repayment. Meanwhile, transferring money out of Syria continues to be complicated and highly regulated while transactions are slow. As one observer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "the only reform private banks has given citizens is that they wait for a shorter time in queues, they carry out transactions in rooms with air conditioning and better furniture, and they deal with employees who are better dressed and more eloquent than their counterparts in the government banks."

Meanwhile, wages have been raised by the regime since 2000 by more than 50 per cent, and ambitious plans have been declared to help combat unemployment, estimated officially at 11 per cent but is close to 20 per cent in reality. The Anti-Unemployment Commission signed an agreement with the Industrial Bank in 2005 for SP1 billion to help develop 2,000 small projects in Syria, providing around 40,000 new jobs.

But for now things remain stagnant and problematic for most Syrians. A survey carried out by the Central Statistics Bureau in cooperation with the Anti-Unemployment Commission put the total labour force in Syria at 4.475 million workers. And at least 300,000 new Syrians enter the work force each year. Due to a decrease in investment -- due to the political climate -- work opportunities are also decreasing and currently, around 30 per cent of university graduates in Syria are unemployed.

Private schools have opened in Damascus and private universities have mushroomed since 2000, again, ending the government monopoly over education in place since 1963. Among the most prominent is Al-Kalamoun University in Dayr Atiya, 100 kilometres away from Damascus, which among other things is the first independent school in Syria to teach political science and international relations. Many Syrians see that the only real reform worth noting since 2000 has been in the educational sector but it takes a decade for this reform to start affecting society as a whole.

Other recent declarations include the promise to increase wages in the public sector by 20 per cent in early 2006 and to increase investment. The government has also lifted a ban on importing clothes and medicine, which should help create new businesses in Syria, increase competition for Syrian clothes and medicine factories, and put an end to smuggling that usually takes place from neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Overseeing the government programme is Abdullah Al-Dardari, deputy prime minister for economic affairs.

Politically, the regime issued a general amnesty on the last day of Ramadan, setting 190 political prisoners free. A hundred-and-one of the released prisoners are members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The rest were a combination of dissidents from different Islamic groups.

The amnesty was welcomed by activists and politicians but criticised because it did not include the famous three dissidents arrested in September 2001 -- parliamentarians Riyad Seif and Maamoun Al-Homsi and the economics professor Aref Dalilah. They may, however, be released in another amnesty, probably on 16 November, marking the 35th anniversary of the Correction Movement that brought former president Hafez Al-Assad to power in 1970.

Other positive indicators include a new lack of harassment of activists. Likewise the tone of Syrian activists in online articles and articles published in the Lebanese and Arab press has grown more heated and many are expressing their views more openly.

Finally, a new cabinet is expected to be formed later this month. The number of seats allocated to the Baath Party will be reduced and according to All-4- Syria, an online bulletin run by the reformist Baathist Ayman Abdul-Nour, the Regional Command of the ruling party has recently met to discuss an alternative to Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Sharaa, whom many consider to be responsible for Syria's current isolation. In addition the post of Ghazi Kanaan, former interior minister, has been vacant since he died on 12 October.

With regard to the Kurds, Syria has announced that it will soon grant citizenship to 90,000 members of this often persecuted minority. And finally, the multi-party law -- promised by Congress in June -- is expected to be passed by the end of the year. If fully implemented, it would dramatically change the climate in Syria and end the socialist monopoly over political life.


At 11/13/2005 08:21:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Here is my prediction:

If any reforms ever take place, they will come in small and tiny baby steps. The regime understands its people very well. In spite of all its missteps, most people (including the majority on this post), continue to live in the fanciful dream that reforms are "coming", just give him more time. You have to give the regime credit for pulling off one of the biggest scams on 18 million people. The President's first cousin accumulates $xBillions in wealth on behalf of the family. Does anyone care? Every single so-called reform or law which had been inacted over the past five years had been designed and tailor made for Mr.Makhlouf and associates. New Private banks? He owns the biggest of them? New private universities? His was the first one. New cell phones? He owns the first and only one. New Golf club? He spends half his time there. Where is the outrage? Forget it, people are in a coma. They want to give the regime another 5-10 years to "continue the reforms". I guess we deserve what we get. If our educated buys into the scam, what do we expect from the 2 million who live under the poverty line? Bashar and the regime has figured all this out. They will continue to pull the scam on all of you. Everytime the going gets tough, they will play the "America and Israel is targetting your country" song. 99% of you love to dance to the this tune. You will rally behind your leaders on the premise that no matter how bad, he is still better than America. Life will go on . The cash registers will continue ringing for Mr. Makhlouf. Your children will be talking about reforms when young Hafez junior is appointed president with chants of "Bill-Roh-Bill-Damm nafdik ya Hafez". What a disgrace!

At 11/13/2005 08:57:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

I think what Norman is probably trying to say in the previous comment is that, has past U.S. administrations shown any miniscule attention to the gross human right violations in Syria and other places in general. And in particular, has the Bush Administration in the past 4+ years shown any attention to the awful human right abuses, worked with sincerity to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria. Those Arabs, Moslems and Syrians would have been on the U.S. side in everyway, all the way.

Unfortunately, It was just last night that the Bush Administration and it’s Department of State head Rice, for the very first time ever, mentioned the regime human right issue.

Therefore Norman and just about everybody now, do not take the Bush Administration and not even U.S. Congress drive to push Democracy with any merit. Most will consider it a cover up mask for ulterior plans.

Adding to that, the huge and unforgivable mistake of establishing the “Iraq Occupation Authority” rather than the “Iraq Liberation Authority” or “Iraq Development Authority” or any name other than “Occupation” would have saved untold lives on all sides and made all the people region more susceptible to help Bush in Iraq and other places.

At this time, after all the disasters in Iraq, all the visits paid to Assad in Damascus from What’s his name Sec. of State, to the members of Congress just last month. I seriously doubt in the ability of the U.S. to change the region attitude or succeed in the original mission goal “War on Terror and Democracy drive” No one will buy Bush’s slogans just as much no one will buy Bashar’s Baathist slogans.

I still think that a deal was done in long time ago, when cash was shipped by plane load to Baghdad, search for previous post in this regards. Yet another evidence just surfaced last week, the transfer of $11.7 Billion from Swiss to U.K. banks. I believe Bashar speech this maybe all posturing and that Bashar possibly have paid his dues.

$ 13.7 Billion Dollars, money stolen from Syrian treasury in the past decades were transferred from Swiss to U.K. accounts belonging to the Assad’s. This could never happened without prior agreement. Don't be fooled by Bashar confrontational speech and U.K. supposed investigation. It is all a show.

Just in case this was overshooting (doubtful), but if it was, and if the Bush Adminstration is serious about pushing and succeeding in bringing the original goals that set out before the start of the Iraq war, it is still “douable”. Barring further erosion, it can be done by having the U.S. taking a back seat and help in every way the Syrian oppositions do the work and talking on behalf of Syria.

You need help, we can help. Otherwise, just listen to the Zionists and implement the silly and worthless plans Mossad’s fanaticize about, only to get the U.S., Israel and the whole region into bigger trouble and deeper mess than Iraq.

Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe
Syrian Republican Party

Commenting on JAM, the Syrian Alawee.

I do share your feeling about the lost chance Syria’s Alawites could have built in Syria and carved a nitch in Syria's history that would have been looked at as the beginning of Syria's modern day of glory. Rather, looks like Bashar and Shawkat chosen to leave Syria broken and in ashes. With memories that Syrians will remember as Syria's worst black days that topped 43 years of black history. All the billions in cash sent abroad will be frozen and stolen like that of the Shah's. All the status and symbols fallen on the dirt, just like the Baathist slogan of “One Arab Nation with One Eternal Mission, Unity, Freedom and Socialism. I doubt that this was the vision Hafez had or expected for Syria and his Alawites minority when he passed away. I am sure he thought that his status will be standing for time immemorial.


Where do we go from here? Anyone other than SSPRS have a working plan? What is it please?

At 11/13/2005 09:03:00 AM, Blogger News Vision said...

Well done. Better than the original article.

At 11/13/2005 10:00:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

On this article,Moubayed even disagree with himself.True reforms will never happen under this mafia.

At 11/13/2005 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

adonis syria ....!!!!!

And if one may ask, under which availlable mafia style you think True reforms will happen??? Chalaby style, Jaafri style, Qaddafi style or the current Lebanese politicians' style..??? Or just give in to Bush now, and he will let us know which mafia style reforms he preferes for us Syrians and Arabs once he gets there????

I think Moubayed's analysis and understanding of Syria represent one of the most sound I have read so far....

At 11/13/2005 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Ausamaa said...

As to the remark that the Speech was harsh in its direct attack on some lebanese politicians, I have to disagree. I think such a rebuke and such harsh remarks are actually a little overdue. Those Lebanese Zua'ama and clan leaders have been asking for it for some time. The self-decieving "courage" and the continuous "bad mouthing" of Syria can not go anunanswered. As they say in Arabic; "When one knock on the door, one should expect to hear the answer". And those politicians have recieved thier answer.

It was good enough that the Syrian people acted in self restraint upon hearing all the insults coupled with the killing of tens of Syrian workers in Lebanon; and by who?? By some of our gutsy, civilized, francophone Lebanese!!!!!!

So; no, I do not think Bashar's speech was harsh at all in this regard. If only to remind some of those lebanese politicians (and their friends as well) that they should not allow themselves to be caried too far away by the tunes played to them... or on them!!!!

At 11/13/2005 11:47:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This the typical baathist defensive excuses ,which consist to say ,Qadafi,Mubarak,and the arab rulers are bad so why blaming bashar and his mafia?Do u have an another because it's going to stink more and more ?
The baathi mafia of syria is in the class dunce corner at all level.
In 1960 our GDP capita was ranked the second highest in the arab world,better than Turkey ,today we are behind Morroco and Egypt near Sudan and Yemen.
We had the best universities and press freedom with 10's of newspapers,a respectable parliement life ,strong and mixed civil society,baath of qardaha has destroyed all of our past pride.
Syria is potentially the richest arab country but syrian workers are in very big number in Libya,poor Jordan,poor Lebanon..forget the millions of syrians in the rich gulf countries.
The last discovery is that Syria has a good touristic potential today Damascus ,the Holy city ,is the center of prostitution in the Middle East.
These countries that u mentioned were all victims of baathist like u think that the aim of the methodic elimination of any dissident voices is a strong civil society and internal unity,their objective is their sacrosanct; us or the chaos !

At 11/13/2005 12:40:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

You are the perfect coma stricken Syrian citizen. Read my comment above and just answer the question. Do you care about the dissapeared $billions? I don' think so.

At 11/13/2005 01:03:00 PM, Blogger shamee27 said...

To this so called SRP(Excue my ignorant I lived in syria my whole life i never heard about ur party and its polcies! does your party actually exist? lol), to Adonise and Ehasn and to all the syrians who live in abroad, please stop showing off your courage on a web site , if you think yourselves courageous then come back home to damascus and curse the regime lol I bet you wont dare to do that, at least i got the guts to curse the regime while i am in syria .
I say it one more time maybe u guys will get it anyone ally with americans is as bad if not worse than this rotten allwi regime.
we would like to see change but we dont want our beloved country destroyed. My advice to you guys stay where you are and leave us to deal with our problems.

At 11/13/2005 01:34:00 PM, Blogger News Vision said...

I have found an excellent article on Syrian Reform written by Sren Schmidt,from Roskilde University Centre, in Denmark.
I've posted it in my blog for those interested. (

At 11/13/2005 01:48:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Shamee1 through 88,000,000

We are coming with a big loud bang to oblerate your ass. I am happy to hear that you know nothing about us, you are as important to us as if a street dog cared or not. Yes, SRP exist, but not for human scum like you, just the Agha's and members of notable families (regrdless of sects) are welcome.

At 11/13/2005 02:06:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/13/2005 02:12:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

shamee27,the syrian regime has served the big power interests,it's not the problem of the opposition if the americans think that he has became useless and should be reformed and despite all they still say "regime change by force "is not yet in our agenda.
The syrian opposition is clearly against any sanctions which target the syrian people, because their relatives are the syrian people and not the baathists with their 500 SEL mercedes and palaces.
shamee27,u know that no one in syria will die for this regime ,the regime fears the syrian people more than any other foreigner threat.
No other than this regime killed 10 000's of syrian civilians and destroyed cities,such mass killings explain the level of hatred from this regime toward u and me.
The regime was not able to overcome a Confidence Crisis with the people during these 35 years of total leadership,so dont blame the victims!
bashar is not worried about the syrian people and Syria but only for his familly and his usurped power.

At 11/13/2005 03:19:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Thanks Tj ,this is a must read.

At 11/13/2005 03:41:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Josh you're dreaming. The French made it clear again and again that there will be no deal on Hariri and Lebanon. It's not about Syria for Chirac. It's about
- Hariri
-Lebanon (the French need an independent Lebanon in order to resurrect their influence in this strategic region)
-France's relation with the US,

The last 2 elements that are far too important to be negociated. How many times will the French have to say 'no deal' before the Syrian regime get the message?

At 11/13/2005 03:44:00 PM, Blogger shamee27 said...

I am glad to know what you believe and calling for adonis, and at the same time I thank this SRP guy for his valuable comment, it showed us exactly what he believes in and what sort of party he represents lol
I know that Syrians won't die for this corrupt regime and I know exactly what sort of atrocities the regime committed against Syrian people, but as I said allying with devil is not the answer.


At 11/13/2005 04:08:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Thank you for highliting the economic challenges that the country faces.
Very intelligent articles indeed.

At 11/13/2005 04:24:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Moubayed's article is pathetic as usual. What gives him the right to say that Syrians want only economical reforms, not political reforms? And what kind of idiot believe that economical liberties are not tied to political liberties? Moubayad's neo-Bathist propaganda is appalling.

At 11/13/2005 05:06:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Dr. Landis,

Your readers could learn a lot from T.J'S

Having visited his blog for the first time today, one can only be impressed by the depth and intellect of the articles (including the one written by T.J. himself).

At 11/13/2005 07:17:00 PM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

A friend in Syria just told me that the US embassy in Syria is closed until further notice. Anyone can confirm/deny this?

At 11/13/2005 09:55:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

look at Syria ranking in coruption.

At 11/13/2005 10:44:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Where is the outrage at Rami Makhlouf's billions? Lets see...

I am outraged that my Syrian government gave no-bid contracts to Rami Makhlouf and similiar cronies. As an educated Syrian, I condemn corruption and the lack of comptetion in this affair. Because of this, the Makhlouk empire has grown to billions of dollars.

But you know what? He is running his companies well and making money--that is the capitalist system!! As a consumer, I appreciate my consumer interests being taken care of best by ensuring someone with access to government can cut through notorious Syrian red tape and make my school, my bank and my cell-phone services better.

What else am I outraged at?

I am also outraged that my American government given no-bid contracts to Halliburton, Bechtel and the rest of their cronies largly due to political connections. Because of such schemes, these companies have grown to be multi-billion dollar empires.

I am also outraged---u know what no I'm not outraged? I am happy that in Dubai, Emirates airlines and the airport, and Etisalat etc etc are run by the ruling families who again cut through red tape and provide TOP-NOTCH service. While the ruling families are rich, as a consumer I am happy just as I am when I buy my Apple i-pod knowing I am enriching Steve Jobs, also a multi-billionaire.

(I do really wish Makhlouf would do something with his riches akin to Bill Gates and his philanthropic organizations but I digress....)

In a capitalist system--somebody is bound to make money--ask Bill Gates! I don't fault people so much for making money as long as superior service is provided.

And I most certainly do NOT want to topple my American government, or destroy the beautiful thing that the Emirates leadership has created in their country, or bring down my Syrian government for such things.

It's all relative compared to the real problems in the middle-east which we see everyday in the news. Having said that, it is a real problem and something that needs to be tackled, but not an excuse to bring down the entire government.

At 11/14/2005 12:12:00 AM, Blogger DamasceneBlood said...

Yeah, corruption no execuse to bring down a governemt, the government will just collapse under its own inefficiency and red tape.

But remember, although there is rampant corruption in the US with pretty much any $Billion+ company, the pie in the US is much much bigger. So while Halliburton can steal a few no-bid contracts, that won't affect the competition by much. In Syria, of course, the pie is very tiny, and 99% is being eaten by the gov. and its cronies.

At 11/14/2005 01:03:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

To call Mehlis a "DIDDLER", Mister Josh, is extremly unserious, a bad style. But a Syrian like me, european educated, knows your situation well. NO RESPECT FOR THAT and most of your comments here, sorry Mister.

At 11/14/2005 01:16:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Also your comments,EngineeringChange, are just cheap. What does it help your beloved government to put your finger on others. Watch yourself and seek the truth within yourself. 90% of the syrian society have the same characteristics as their king has.
So, Mister j.r., thanks for your blog, regrettably you will be understood from less than 1% of Syrians. Guess you know that better than me. It is hopeless.

At 11/14/2005 01:18:00 AM, Blogger Nafdik said...

Very amusing comment by EngChange.

Capitalism is about allowing the freedom of capital to be exercised in production activities.

Banning all imports and allowing only the duty free run by the president cousin to get merchandise into the country is as far from capitalism as you can get.

Rami Makhlouf is not Steve Jobs. He might be a shrewed and efficient business man, but he is not creating wealth in our country, just accumulating it.

At 11/14/2005 01:37:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

He is a business man? He is the greatest thief of all thiefs as his boss is a murderer.

At 11/14/2005 03:11:00 AM, Blogger Hazer said...

Syrian Republican Party said...
We are coming with a big loud bang to oblerate your ass. ... you are as important to us as if a street dog cared or not. ... human scum like you ... just the Agha's and members of notable families (regrdless of sects) are welcome.
Hello Mr. Metaz,

Do you really think that someone making comments like these directed at Syrian citizens is capable of representing them in any future Syrian government, or do you plan to only represent "notable families"?

The only way you could enter government is if you were put there by force. Your chances of being democratically elected decrease every time you publish one of your thoughts.

Do you ever wonder why nobody takes you seriously? Ever wonder why nobody likes you? Go back and read some of your own posts for the answer.

At 11/14/2005 05:10:00 AM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Thank you hazer

At 11/14/2005 06:17:00 AM, Blogger ForFreedomOfExpression said...

At 11/14/2005 07:57:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Bashar Assad and his Baath party represent the Syrians and Shamee 1 through 17,000,000.

The Agha is not looking for a job in politic Syria. He is looking to restore rights and develop the country. He told Prersident Assad that very clearely several time.

The party is not a mass movement party. It is special interest one with specific agenda. It says so on the website under FAQ. And President Assad was told that too.

You also should notice that we never rase a silly motto of Democracy. But we support it. You do not need to follow Metaz and he is not asking for you to follow him. You can start your own party, the pink pussied fat girl party or the cat poop worshipper party and we will respect your right just as well.

Finally, although on a number of ooccasions, someone else posted unauthorized commnet on the party behalf, others were posted by rivals to defame the party. He keeps record of his commnets and those posted by Imad, the only person authorized to leave comment here in fact.

As to your opinion that is expressed here HAZOR, we don't giva a fuck really. We mean it.

At 11/14/2005 08:05:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...


"Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience. "

And the SRP has lots of that, please leave him to his own schizo world, where he is important, communicates with presidents and has an actual working website, unlike the current joke he currently posses.

At 11/14/2005 08:19:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Yeah we know that was you Criminal human trash. are there a better garbage can you can stick your head in that this one.

At 11/14/2005 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Yes, Bashar Assad represent Innocent Criminals and gets full support from them.

At 11/14/2005 08:29:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

I hate to ruin a lively argument as we see above but allow me to interject here.

Eng.change is not an exception. A significant number of people share his regrettably shallow analysis. He is clearly happy with the cell phone service he is getting while in Syria. He loves the clean offices and friendly staff. He also thinks that Mr. Makhlouf is doing his fellow countrymen a favour by cutting through all the red tape that most Syrian Businesses face. He finally claims that in a capitalist system, there are winners and losers, and Mr. Makhlouf is undoubedtly a winner, so what is the problem?

No doubt that you are right on red tape. The world bank has recently ranked Syria as one of the least countries that are business-friendly. In spite of all the promises of reforms, it takes 63 days, 18 documents, and 47 signitures from the time goods arrive in a Syrian port until they reach the factory gate. What is most interesting about his comments is his reference to Syria as "capitalist". Shockingly, he compares Makhlouf to capitalists like Steve case and Bill Gates. In a true capitalist system, competition reigns supreme. In capitalism, strong antitrust laws are enacted and enforced. Property and legal rights are protected. Through the magic of the invisible hand, the U.S. economy is able to enjoy a GDP size of $11 Trillion. The richest man in that economy is worth $45 Billion (Bill Gates). By adopting socialism on the vast majority of its citizens, Syria's economy delivers $22 Billion in GDP. Mr. Makhlouf is reportedly worth somewhere around $7 Billion (conservative estimate according to some). This is close to 30% of what the other 18 million fellow citizens earn or produce in a year. Had Mr. Makhlouf earned the same share of GDP in the U.S., his networth would be close to THREE "TRILLION" DOLLARS. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs ought to be embarrased and ashamed of themselves.

At 11/14/2005 08:41:00 AM, Blogger Hazer said...

I need to heed the advice about feeding trolls...

At 11/14/2005 08:42:00 AM, Blogger said...

دمشق: اعلنت جمعية رعايا المساجين واسرهم هنا اليوم ان حوالي 90 في المائة من سجناء (سجن دمشق المركزي) سيضربون عن الطعام لمدة ثلاثة ايام اعتبارا من اليوم احتجاجا على الضغوط التي تتعرض لها سوريا.

ونقلت وكالة الانباء السورية (سانا) عن بيان للجمعية قوله "ان السجناء استنكروا في رسالة سلمتها الجمعية الى ممثل الامم المتحدة بدمشق علي الزعتري الضغوط والتهديدات الخارجية ضد سوريا والمبنية على اتهامات باطلة".

وطالب السجناء في رسالتهم "الشرعية الدولية باحقاق الحق والعدالة الدولية والكف عن الكيل بمكيالين والتغاضي عن جرائم اسرائيل لعدم تنفيذها لقرارات الامم المتحدة".

وشجبت الرسالة تقرير لجنة التحقيق الدولية في اغتيال رئيس وزراء لبنان الاسبق رفيق الحريري واعراضها عن جميع الادلة الحسية وبحثها عن ادلة واهية وملفقة لاتهام سوريا والمس بسيادتها لاخضاعها لإملاءات اسرائيل.

And you think the Agha insults you.
Read this above.

At 11/14/2005 08:46:00 AM, Blogger said...

Hazer, your mommy and sis are sweet. You should share there pussies with all mankind.

At 11/14/2005 08:51:00 AM, Blogger said...

Run that faget Innocent Criminal out of here. Did not you make a promise not to show your AID infested ass and mouth in here. Or you are like the rest of Human scum you defend, a low life, classless piece of shit that there promise is as valuable as the shitty brain they got.

At 11/14/2005 09:04:00 AM, Blogger Innoceent-Criminal Scum said...

can you direct me to the pink satin room pleeeeeeeese.
love ya love ya.

At 11/14/2005 09:05:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

Bashar is acting like Abu Al Abed:

G.W.BUSH was sitting in his oval office wondering which country to
next, when his telephone rang.
"Hallo, Mr. Bush" a heavily accented voice said. "This is Abul Abed,
'ere at Qahwet le?jezz.? I am callin' to tell ya dat we are officially
declaring war on you you!"
"Well Archie," G.BUSH replied, "This is indeed important news! How big
your army?"
"Right now," said Abul Abed, after a moments calculation "there is
me cousin Abu Steif, my next-door-neighbor Abou Yussef, and the whole
team from
the Qahwe. That makes eight!"
BUSH paused. "I must tell you Abul Abed, that I have one million men in
army waiting to move on my command."
"Holy jeez," said Abul Abed. "I'll have ta call ya back!" Sure enough,
next day, Abul Abed called again. "Mr. Bush, the war is still on! We
managed to acquire some infantry equipment!"
"And what equipment would that be Abul Abed?", BUSH asked.
"Well sir, we have two Mercedes 180, and a truck."
BUSH sighed. "I must tell you Abul Abed, that I have 16,000 tanks and
14,000 armoured personnel carriers. Also I've increased my army to one
and a
half million since we last spoke."
"Ya lateef", said A Abul Abed, "I'll be getting back to ya." Sure
Abul Abed rang again the next day. "Mr. B, the war is still on! We have
managed to git ourselves airborne! We modified a helicopter wit a
couple of
shotguns in the cockpit, and four more neighbors have joined us as
BUSH was silent for a minute then cleared his throat. "I must tell you
Abed that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military
complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites.
since we last spoke, I've increased my army to TWO MILLION!"
"Lah lah lah lah," said Abul Abed, "I'll have ta call youse back." Sure
enough, Abul Abed called again the next day. "Mr. Bush! I am sorry to
to tell you dat we have had to call off dis 'ere war."
"I'm sorry to hear that" said BUSH. "Why the sudden change of heart?"
sir," said Abul Abed, "we've all sat ourselves down and had a long
chat, and
come to realize dat dere's no way we can feed two million prisoners."

At 11/14/2005 09:17:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

To EngChange and all,
Capitalism does not mean monopoly. It is illegal in the US. Also, everyone is allowed to import and export not limited to the few. Sometimes there are "sole bid" contracts but usually the justification is long, reasonable and open to the public for transperancy and auditing! That why Halliburton is in trouble after the public saw the books and were audited!

At 11/14/2005 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Sank you very mach mr. Ghassan for enlitening uss in the maning of capitalism. You seem to be very smart.

At 11/14/2005 12:40:00 PM, Blogger shamee27 said...

Polite Request:
To whomever monitoring this forum:
Please delete the insulting and disgraceful comments which have been made by the Geeky guy and SRP.


At 11/14/2005 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Ghassan, t
hat last comment starting with "Sank you.." is not mine, some IT nerd knows how to register the same nickname twice and is playing a joke, you can see the difference in the profile so i hope you wont hold a grudge ;)

At 11/14/2005 01:12:00 PM, Blogger News Vision said...

Hey BP, nice one.
keep them comin'

At 11/14/2005 01:32:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...

Well I should be tarred-and-feathered for even implying that Rami Makhlouk is the Syrian version of one the century's most important innovators in Steve Jobs or that Syria is a capitalist society.

But I stand by the principle of my argument:

1. Every country in the planet has their own version(s) of Rami Makhlouk accounting for differences in scale of course, and most others are not so obvious (usually they aren't cousins of rulers)

2. It is against economics logic, but sometimes it makes sense to have one group control a variety of enterprises granted things are done right. Dubai is my example where of lack of competition still bringing excellent results.

3. So in theory, Rami is not that bad for Syria. What is worse are the people who are corrupt and have absolutely nothing to show for it. The government officials with their fancy cars, Souhair Al-Shammi, etc etc This corruption seeps down to every level of every sector in society and should be stopped.

These corrupt people do not create jobs (which Rami does), do not provide premium services for Syrians (which Rami also does) and do not at least eventually foster competetion (like the banks and schools) which Rami does.

True instead of Smith's inviscible hand, here in Syria we have Bashar's iron fist. But if you had an inviscible hand, the poor masses are not going to benifit--instead of one multi-billionaire you would have several billionaires.

In short the Rami problem should not be an excuse bring down the regime, to potentially bring chaos to the country--because even in a different system somebody would emerge to take his place.

And does anybody have any good information on this Rami guy anyway? I feel like we are debating a phantom!

At 11/14/2005 01:39:00 PM, Blogger Yabroud said...

Tha son of a bitch, thug Rami Makhlouf was responsible directly in imprisonning hundreds of employees who were doing their jobs and either they had to sign or refuse to sign contracts and deals where the ultimate beneficiary would be Rami Makhlouf, and that was based on the so called Economic Corruption Law from which people like Makhlouf are the beneficiaries and regular empolyees are the victims. If they sign, they are ultimaltely held as the Beneficiaries and Responsible for the theft that occured, and if they don't, they are accused of not doing their jobs and being inapt which also put them in jails in the same charge as corruption.

The Assad family has to go.

At 11/14/2005 02:24:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/14/2005 02:26:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

The problem is not only limited to Rami Makhlouf,he is not asad's relative sole billionaire. What about the billions of Jamil,Basel,Anisa,Rifaat,Somar ...???

At 11/14/2005 02:46:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Eng.Chg, If you think that Rami is a phantom figure, you should not be wasting your time making irresponsible comments. I am sure you would agree with that. Syria's per capita GDP is about $3500 less than that of Lebanon. If you think about it, there is no reason why it should be less given Syria's natural resources. If one works backwards, Syria seems to miss approximately $3300 per person per year. If you assume a population size of 18 million, one can conclude that $ 60 Billion go missing every year through corruption/stealing/inefficient allocation of resources. If your benchmark is higher than Lebanon's $4500 gdp, the number is potentially is even higher. Adonis correctly distributes the $60 Billion a year over a group extending more than Rami acting as the CEO for syria/Assad INC.

At 11/14/2005 04:14:00 PM, Blogger Anonymous said...


Check out the numbers before posting.

Difference in Per Capita GDP is only $740 not $3,500 and that is in 2002.

At 11/14/2005 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Anonymous said...

And P.S. GDP has nothing to do with natural resources (Hong Kong has no natural resources to speak of and has a much higher GDP than either Syria or Lebanon.)

Hong Kong
Economy (2004)
GDP (2004): $164.4 billion.
GDP real growth rate (2004): 8.1%.
Per capita GDP (2002): $23,900.
Natural resources: Outstanding deepwater harbor.

They have a harbor!!!

At 11/14/2005 05:13:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

What an ignorant remark. The website you cite uses purchasing power parity as the unit of measurement. You need to look at nominal gdp in current dollar. The state department uses the correct data. Syria's is $1155 and Lebanon's is $4800. go to Please don't make silly remarks next time when you have no clue what you are talking about

At 11/14/2005 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Ghassan said...

Go to this website and see the ranking of all countries for all data: population, GDP, ...etc.

At 11/14/2005 05:50:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/14/2005 05:57:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

All the sources confirm that Syria's Asad has became the poorest arab country with Mauretania,Yemen and Sudan behind Morroco and Egypt.
Here are the most accurates datas ,from the World Bank.
For Syria:
For Lebanon:
Past syrian comment's topic was related to this subject.
With very interesting comments:
Maurice Saade
Agricultural Policy Officer
FAO Regional Office for the Near East
Cairo, Egypt

I beg to differ with your conclusions regarding economic growth rates in Syria. The data in the FAO report that you have quoted can be very misleading if you do not read it correctly. The growth rates calculations are made in Syrian Pounds (SL) and not in $US. Keeping in mind that the exchange rate until the early 1980s was around 3.5-4.0 SL per $US (compared to 50 S per $ since the early 1990s), so you can imagine how distorted the analysis can be if it is based on SL. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find GDP figures from the 1960s or 1970s. But I recall very well that in 1975, the per capita GDP in Syria was around US$ 1500, compared to World Bank estimates of $1160 in 2003, and this is measured in current terms, i.e. not taking inflation into consideration. So in real terms, $1500 in 1975 is equivalent to at least $3000 (probably much more) in today’s terms. Therefore, the real per capita income DECLINED by more than 60% in the past 30 years. Needless to point out that in 1975 there were very little oil revenues and Syria was still reeling from the 1973 war with Israel. It is this long-term trend that most Syrians have felt over the past few decades, particularly the middle class which has seen its purchasing power steadily decline since the early 1970s until it was almost wiped out during the hyper-inflation of the late 1980s. The relative very modest improvements in income during the 1990s may look somewhat impressive, but this is only when they are compared to the abyss rates of 1985-1990.

Best regards, Maurice Saade
P.S. The above remarks reflect my own personal views and not the official position of FAO.

At 11/14/2005 07:23:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Adonis, Thank you. During the 1980's, Syria did indeed have 12 different exchange rates. Even today, it is next to impossible to trust or belive a single official economic release. The world bank confirms Syria's gdp at $1190 and that of Lebanon at $4980

At 11/14/2005 07:42:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Ghassan, The cia site also uses PPP as unit of measurement. The only relevant GDP measures are using current or constant Dollars. The World bank and the State Department both do so accurately. A per capita of $1190 means that the average Syrian makes just over $3 a day . What a disgrace.

At 11/14/2005 08:42:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

there are many poor people in Syria ,but i think 1000.00 us dollars buy alot more in syria than in Lebanon,jordan or egypt,think you should compare the buying power no the actual amount.

At 11/14/2005 09:12:00 PM, Blogger EngineeringChange said...


True, Makhlouf is not worth any further debate...
(But I still would love to learn more about this shadowy figure, I know some but not nearly enough)

But you mention and compare Syrian and Lebanonese economies again--What I always hear as the main critism of Hariri was his bringing a huge debt burden on Lebanon.

So, looking into it, the public debt of Lebanon is at $36 billion while Syria is at $3 billion

You seem to know your economics--what is your take (or anybody else's) on the debt situation and how does it factor into the economic comparison?

And I seem to remember from economics class that debt is not really all that bad and Dick Cheney famously said "Reagan proved deficits don't matter"...

But I will still ask why does Lebanon get off the hook for an extra $33 billion dollars in debt? And would you recommend Syria doing a similiar thing to improve the economic situation of her people?

At 11/14/2005 10:09:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

two points ,yes debt matter percent of debt to the GDP matter,america,s debt to it,s GDP is lower than the countries second the american economy is a vibrant economy things move rapidly in the US and what takes short time in the US to achieve takes ages in the middle east so Syria should not acumilate debt befor compleet revamp of it,s economy,one more thing the announced GDP misses an important part os Syria,s economy as it does not account for underground economy which account for a majer part of Syria,s economy that underground economy is secondery to unfair taxes ,so having a fair tax system where everybody pays will revitalize the Syrian economy.then goverment spending through projects done by the private secter and low interest goverment gauranteed lawns will stimulate the syrian economy and improve unimployment.

At 11/14/2005 10:44:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"The cia site also uses PPP as unit of measurement. The only relevant GDP measures are using current or constant Dollars. The World bank and the State Department both do so accurately. A per capita of $1190 means that the average Syrian makes just over $3 a day . What a disgrace."

Both measures are relevant because they carry information. It depends on the context in which you use them. A big gap between the two measures is never a good sign though.

And this doesn't mean that the average Syrian makes $3 a day. It means that the average Salary + the average benefit per worker = 3$ because GDP is the sum of all the created value.

At 11/15/2005 12:06:00 AM, Blogger Joshua Landis said...

Purchasing power of per-capita GDP is important. Norman is correct when he argues that it is important to take into consideration the greater buying power of a dollar in Syria. The government sinks much of the state wealth into subsidizing fuel costs and basic food items. Anyone who has taken a taxi across town in Damascus and Beirut knows that it costs 1 dollar in Sham and about 6 or 7 in Beirut.

Of course, using such subsidies causes terrible imbalances, but that is another question. Purchasing power is important. The average Lebanese is not 4 times richer than his Syrian counterpart.

About the SSRP insults and baseness. I am very sorry. They do destroy intelligent commentary and are meant to terrorize and intimidate, rather than to educate and pursuade. I will remind Joe, however, it is very tedious to spend time errasing

At 11/15/2005 05:30:00 AM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Mr Landis,
It is refreshing to see so many intelligent comments on the subject of the Syrian economy. Eng. Chg. asks whether Syria should follow Lebanon's example and borrow. The U.S. has the largest budget and trade deficits in the world but they still enjoy the fastest economic growth. Borrowing is not a problem if returrns generated from using the funds exceed the interest rate bill. In most LDC's it is the ability to borrow that is the problem (who would buy Syria's bonds today for example). But syria has a very good balance sheet. Having wiped off all the debts with Russia, the country has a decent amount of reserves with little debt. But here is the problem. Syria has an extremely poor infrastructure. Billions of Dollars are needed to be spent in such projects if Syira wants to compete for international business at the regional level. Yes, the balance sheet looks good now but that i not surprising when you look at the infrastructure quality. Lebanon rolled the dice and did borrow to improve its own infrastructure.

Dr. Landis, I believe the subsidies that you talk about is the biggest misallocation of economic resources. As you say, they help the poor but more than helping the poor they invite massive amounts of fraud and inefficiencies. Diesel is subsidized to the level that makes it extremely attrative to buy in huge quantitites and smuggle to neighbering countries who dont have the subsisdies. Bread was so subdizied at some stage that it was cheaper to feed to cows than the raw materials that go in making the bread. Lifting subsidies is going to have to take place one day if Syria wants to move to a market economy. But, the political risks are unbearable here. On economics considerations alone, the system is in shambles. Socialism does not work. The originators of this crazy idea gave it up but we refuse. It may indeed be cheap to have a hummus at a Syrian restaurent but this should not fool you to think things are thereofore fine. Sir, what about healthcare? In syria today, every major sickness is most likely led to death in the family anless the family can afford to go to jordan or Lebanon (if the not west). In my opinion, Syria's economic prospects are much more pessimistic than most people believe. Oil running out in the next 20 years, cotton that cannot be exported due to lack of water resources, zero infrastructure and health, collapsing educational institution, massive amounts of corruption are some of the examples that come to my mind.

At 11/15/2005 08:18:00 AM, Blogger norman said...

price control does not help ,i agree that with subsdies Syria is subsidising Jordan and Lebanon,syyria sohuld move to free market prices and to prevent social unrest they can give copons to low income syrians so the goverment does not have to subsidise the well to do ,instead spend mony and resources on infrastructure.

At 11/15/2005 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Abu Arab said...

I strongly agree with Sami about the steps taken by the Syrian's government to strengthen its fronts both inside and outside.

I think we need to realize many things and stop giving wrong judgements about the Syrian leadership:

1- We need to point out that the Detlif Melhis is NOT co-operating with the Syrians, he rejected any negotiations regarding the place of conducting his investigations. Flexibility is required from him and his team due to the sensitivity of the issue.

2- we also need to know where is Syria on the map, it is a third world country, I think a first world country like USA is also corrupted with people like Chiny and other co-business partners. why don't we accept corruption in a third world country. I am not agreeing to what's happening in Syria, but please look at corruption in USA, Lebanon, China, Japan and many others. Corruption itself should not be a reason for invading anther country.

3- Comparing to many third world countries, and considering Syria's history particularly the last 3 decades, I believe Syria has moved a lot. we need to admit that, this is fact. these steps were taken before the US pressure started to mount on Syria, and let us just accept that the US occupation in Iraq has badly slowed the reforms procedures due to the threats felt by the Syrian government from the US existence in Iraq.

4- Most Syrians, especially those who live abroad, have unrealistic picture for their country Syrian. Democratic change cannot take place in 5 or even 10 years. Syria is not part of any influential international, global or even regional economical, military or industrial organisation or group, which left Syria heavily depends on its own efforts to do everything. The only provisional support available is from the US & EU ONLY if Syria supports the US & EU agenda in the region.

5- Most Syrians relatively speaking have the basic living standards. they say 20% in Syria live in poverty, I say in EU and including US have 12% unemployed and live in poverty, in addition to unknown % of discrimination, crime and drugs addicts. Lets also look at countries who agreed with the US agenda in the ME. Jordan, Egypt KSA, do they really do they really have a better standards of human rights?

6- Finally, Syria's unity and its Arabs identity is an essential issue which the current leaders in Syria still belong to. Syria is an Arab country and some of those who talk about democracy, and regime change would like, (or don't realize) Syria to become many federations, one for Sunni, another for Kurds or maybe one for northern and another for southern.
This issue if happened will strongly support the Israeli aim of becoming the largest country in the ME surrounded by small and contradicted minorities. The Lebanese example of democracy (of Elite) is not applicable in Syria, this example should change.


At 11/15/2005 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Anonymous said...


Silly Comment. Check your initial comment please. GDP is a measure of the value of final goods and services produced in an economy.

Even if I would go along with your calculations, all it would amount to is 60 billion that was never there so it cannot possibly have been stolen.

At 11/15/2005 01:24:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Abu Arab ,you are write except that syrian who live abroad think that Syria should change as rarpidly,yes syria should improve but not at the cost of it,s unity.

At 11/15/2005 01:37:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

look at this for Syria ranking on coruption

At 11/15/2005 01:47:00 PM, Blogger Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/15/2005 02:39:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/15/2005 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Anonymous said...

Corruption is a fact of life and I'm certain Syria has more than its share of corruption. However, the simple point to be made here is that per capita GDP differences are not measures of corruption and you cannot base calculations of how much is being stolen on these differences. The low per capita GDP in Syria is simply an indicator of poor management which you would see in any economy that insists on central planning. It results from the free riding behavior that is inevitably a result of lack of performance incentives and accountability mechanisms. And for those who are always complaining about how the government plundered the wealth of the nations (billions upon billions of stolen dollars) I would ask, how did these thefts happen? Did the members of the ruling class write themselves checks against the Syrian treasury or did they take advantage of their position to make business deals that generated income which otherwise would not be available?

If corruption takes the form of someone cutting through the red tape and making available something that otherwise would not be then it is a good thing for the consumers since, to try and do it legitimately under existing laws would not be possible. I am not proposing that changing laws for a few to take advantage of trade opportunities is a good thing, I believe that laws need to be changed so that anyone can take advantage of existing trade opportunities and people should make their profits based on their own ability and not according to how much protection from competition they can be afforded by the government; but given a choice between a bureaucracy that is so overloaded that nothing ever gets done, and the same bureaucracy with some corruption that allows the economy to move ever so slightly, then I will chose the latter.

The economic problems Syria faces result from the fact that there is no underlying legal system that can promote independent businesses. The fact that laws can be changed to the benefit of a few would have to be the main reason that foreign investors, or Syrian expatriates are not interested in putting any cash into the economy. The legal issues cannot be resolved as long as you have a system of government which permits changes in the legal system that are not based on increasing overall economic efficiency and once the laws are changed two or three times the government loses investors’ confidence and it would be nearly impossible to attract any investors.

Without a strong legal system that works to promote competition and reward initiative, it will be impossible to create a viable economy. Without a viable economy it is impossible to speed up the pace of reform because reforming an economy such as Syria’s implies eliminating the bloated bureaucracy and you cannot fire people who have no employment opportunity in other sectors of the economy. Adding people to the ranks of the unemployed will move the political opposition from the so called intellectual class to the masses and that can be a serious problem.

At 11/15/2005 02:59:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Whathever the datas are related to the GDPs or Purchasing power parity,Syria still at the bottom of the arab countries behind Morroco and Egypt.
Some years ago the Syrian GDP per capita was 4 times higher than Egyptian GDP per capita.
Anyone who believe that the monopoly of Makhlouf-Asad is compatible with effective reforms is just lying to himself.
And the economical situation today is not better than 10 years ago.

At 11/15/2005 09:09:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

Political reform needs midle class and to have midle class Syria needs to reform it,s economy and legal system.end ,that is the solution to syria,s problems ,Now if you want to know how to do that we should have a debate .


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