Wednesday, June 07, 2006

As Dictatorships fall, the likely winners are................., By EHSANI2

As Dictatorships fall, the likely winners are........
By EHSANI2
June 7, 2006

Let me state at the outset, that I am a huge proponent of the separation of religion and state. I also happen to believe that Islam and western liberalism are incompatible. The Moslem world will keep blaming everyone else for its failures. Just like the banner of the Egyptian elections proclaimed, “Islam is the solution,” the vast majority of the Moslem world happens to share the spirit of this slogan. No matter what form of government they are presented with, they will continue to wish for the day that Islam became the rule of the land. This is in the region’s DNA.

It was the same in Iran. They felt that Khomeini and his brand of government were going to be their savior. Unless they were given the chance to try it, it would have remained a beautiful unattained dream. But now that they have tried it, future generations of Persians will say thanks but no thanks. Hamas is another case in point. The Palestinian people felt that if they were only able to bring Islamists to power, all their problems would be solved. They now took it out of their system. Years later (if not already), they will realize that this was a mistake. But they would never have believed anyone unless they tried it for themselves. Just like the Iranians, when future Palestinian generations will say, “Islam is the solution,” the response will again most likely be thanks but no thanks.

Only when this scenario is played out in country after country in the Middle East, will the region be ready to progress to the next stage. The threat of Islamism is likely to be with us for many decades. It is likely to take Middle Easterners as long as it took the Russians to reject communism, if not longer. If that took 70 years, this may take 100 years or more. Iran is now 27 years into its Islamist experiment. If I am right, we have only started down the Islamist road. I truly hope that I am wrong. There is nothing that I detest more than religious people running our lives. But, I think it is inevitable. As we demand more democracy and the removal of dictatorships, the natural next step will be to allow for the majority to express its will at the voting booths. Liberals will be no match for the religious establishment in the scramble for power as the present authoritarian regimes give way. Iraq has already begun its experiment with Islamism, as Mullahs take the reins of power. Sadly, Syria is unlikely to buck this trend. A number of analysts and experts believe that the country is somehow different from the rest of the Middle East; they argue that secularism and liberalism will prevail. I am skeptical.

Middle Eastern potentates gamble that they can short-circuit the Islamist swing of the pendulum, by crushing the extremist forces of Islam and domesticating the rest. Beginning at the very start of the twentieth century, Ataturk set out on the course of smashing the religious establishment in Turkey and marginalizing the Mullahs and Islamists. He blamed the backwardness of the Middle East and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during WWI on the obscurantism of the Imams and backward looking project of religion.

Secular modernizers and the West have been transfixed by Kemal Ataturk's forced secularization of Turkey: the abolition of the Caliphate, the imposition of puritanical secularism, the closing of religious schools, the banning of Islamic dress, and the purging of the Turkish language of its Arabic vocabulary. Many were particularly intrigued by Ataturk's description of Islam as "a putrefied corpse which poisons our lives" and as "the enemy of civilization and science.”

There can be little doubt that modern day Middle Eastern rulers look back on the lessons of Ataturk, with admiration. Many "liberals" do as well. They tell themselves that if they can hang tough, hang on to power, and hang the Islamists their countries can ride out the Islamist storm. Husni Mubarak, in paving the way for his son to succeed him, no doubt, thinks along these lines - that is what he is selling the West and the moneyed and intellectual classes of Egypt. The Assads of Syria use the same rational. If given enough time, they can guide their people through the Islamist moment, even if it takes half a century or more. They present themselves as the secular counter-force to Islam. But can they weather the storm? Is it so simple or does the pendulum of history defy the forceful hands of secular dictators?

Everyone now looks to Turkey as the example of the successful secularizer. After a century of holding the pendulum back from its Islamist cycle, the Kemalist military elite has recently released it. The present Islamist rulers who have inherited power turn out to be benign, we are assured. Yes, hijabs will be allowed in public buildings, but all the scarier forms of Islamism, such as the imposition of shari`a law and rejections of pluralism, have been leeched from the political agenda of the dominant Turkish Islamists. That is the assumption, at least. It must be noted that a number of secular Turks have been warning that the pendulum is only beginning its swing toward a more Islamic form of government and surprises may still be in store for Turkey.

In any case, it may be argued, Turkey is a unique case that cannot be properly used as a model for the Middle East more generally. Its proximity to the West and its significant strides in the field of economic reforms and education during the 20th century set it apart, as does the fact that it inherited the Ottoman brain and nervous system, which left it with a more sophisticated leadership, more developed state institutions, and much further along the road to modernization. Moreover, in the latter half of the 20th century, Turgot Ozal forced through an economic liberalization program that vastly improved Turkey's economic prospects. Turkey's economic advances have convinced many analysts that the Turkey has successfully inoculated itself against the extremes of Islamism. In my opinion, the Turkish army’s ever-strong presence has been a huge factor in preventing the country from swinging back more forcefully to the Islamist extreme. But, in spite of the country’s high economic development, excellent education system, and years of forced secularism, it has not been able to avoid being governed by the Islamic government of today, though admittedly they are not of extremists.

In conclusion, the people of the Middle East seem destined for more political reforms and democracy. As dictatorships give way to the will of the people, Islam will most likely emerge as the winner in most Middle Eastern countries. Regrettably, the liberal voices that have long been kept at the margins of power and state institutions will likely lose this race. Years of failed economic policies and sagging standards of living will make it easier for the Islamists to convince their fellow countrymen that “Islam is the solution.” The banners that we saw in the latest Egyptian elections will most likely be raised in future elections across the Arab World. Only once our people have actually experience Islamic governance will the liberals among us get their turn. Examples of this scenario can be seen in the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Iran, and Iraq. Every time a change in the status quo has taken place, the Islamists have quickly filled the void. The liberal voices will most likely disagree with me. Syria is surely different, they are likely to argue. While I will pray that they are right, my fear is that Syria's Islamists will be coming to power next.

26 Comments:

At 6/07/2006 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I have a few additional questions (no agreement disagreement, just questions to anyone):

1) Do you believe Hamas was setup to fail?

2) Do you believe they are bound to fail? will they politely accept to fail and give the power back to Fatah? Will the Iranian leaders odf today also give up without a fight at the end (whenever that may be)? … if not, how do you see the process of “the end” to an Islamic experiment in leadership?

3) Do you think the Syrian secular and leftist intellectuals (Communists, etc) should learn a lesson from Iranian intellectuals who participated in the same revolution next to the islamists, only to be the next target to the revolutionaries who took power ... it is estimated that 25,000 leftists were killed by the men of the Islamic revolution right after the Shah was removed... if the NSF group succeeds one day in gaining power (I seriously doubt it) who would have the upper hand? the MB or the others? .. remember that Khaddam will be 76 to 79 by then (since many of you agreed they have no chance in the near future)

4) To what extent is religious extremism driven by US and Israeli policies and actions in the Middle East today? ... imagine Jimmy Carter (my favorite US president ever) came back, adopted much more balanced and fair policies in the Middle East, apologized to Arabs for all the mistakes of the previous administration, took serious steps to improve the economic situation in Syria, Egypt ..etc

Do you expect a sharp decline in fundamentalist tendencies in the Area?

 
At 6/07/2006 11:24:00 PM, Blogger Fares said...

Great post...I sadly agree that Islamic idealogies and extremism are flourishing more than ever in the area.

I just wrote a post about Christian fears in Syria
Why Christians in Syria support the Current Regime? or do they?

Alex, you raise very valid points, and I don't think that the NSF have great chances of success, but the Syrian regime has being playing the islamic cards too
As the regime courts favor with Islamists, the religious awakening surprises the public

But Alex what you are saying is that liberal Syrians should accept Syrian regime no matter what it does and give it carte blanch to hold the country backward and jail its intellectuals because they know better. Same position as the US and other powers who don't want a change as well for fear of Islamics which BTW Syrian policies are promoting!!!How do we get out of this dilemna??? Carter won't come back and expect more and more hostile US presidents to arabs. Even Canada is finally getting its share of terrorist attemts: that is what we were missing!!!

Also, Hamas will give up power because it is under occupation and because it offers no solution.

Such a hopeless situation, definitely helping dictators holding on to power

 
At 6/08/2006 12:05:00 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Fares, excellent post at your blog.

I will reply to you tomorrow at Ammar's (since I want to hear his opinion in what I will say)

 
At 6/08/2006 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Nationalist Party said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6/08/2006 12:53:00 AM, Blogger Fares said...

Great fanatic Comment by a fake name SNP. Let's all follow Iran and make sure the Mullahs rule the great arabic nations.

People like you give us hope for a better region, your way or nothing.

I agree with you that the Gulf countries are corrupt but for different reasons, but ask yourself do they have any choices for real power, at least some are trying to improve their countries like Dubai and Quatar.

While Iran impovrish its people, deny them freedom and forces Women to cover up and why:::I don't think Muslims reached the peak of civilization in history while treating women and liberals that way. As for Israel, Iran loves to play with them under the table, to make sure Arabs are well cornered.

Freesyria.wordpress.com

Alex ty for enjoying my post and waiting to see your reply

 
At 6/08/2006 01:14:00 AM, Blogger Chase said...

I suggest a closer look at what we brand here as Islamist. Political movements and government carrying Islamic agenda differ greatly from right to left. Let's forget the Sharia based laws. Because we'll still be depending on Sharia in any form of government. Actually we are, in the current secular system in Syria, concerning marriage, inheritance, custodianship and all kinds of social stuff.

I think an Islamist government views are ultimately decided by the public local version of the faith, rather than by the books. The great differences in the nature of the Islamist administrations in the occupied Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Iran are in the result of the different realities ( can you imagine Hamas claiming people need moral police?) Ideology has no longer enough margins to play around today.

So it's quite logical to expect a still relatively secular Syria in the future, as the Syrian people today are more concerned about the economical hard facts than the sentimental wish to live under an Islamic brand. But, to say the least, it's sure tempting.

It will all depend on how the role and shape of secular opposition today ( primarily Communists and human rights societies) will evolve. Will they be able to counter the weight of the Islamic dream? Of course, the current regime wants to be the only one to be capable of that. And the West usually prefers to leave its options open.

 
At 6/08/2006 02:29:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

Ehsani blog=Josh Landis blog.
you talk about democracy,it is the best available system ,it is not perfect one, minorities will never reach 50%,so in democracy the minorities may never attain their rights, however the constitution must protect the different ethnic groups, freedom is important, democracy is a shadow of freedom.
Islam second pillar,says do good deed, and deny and prevent bad deeds,so Islam is the solution,the problem with islamist ,as they gain power they behave like the baathist, when they became in control, they forget their principles,in freedom,unity and socialism,they looked after their own interest,they grab power,they enriched themself,stole the money,forgetting about socialism, they did not provide freedom, and in practicing despotism, they abandoned unity.
it is the people not the principle, that is the problem

 
At 6/08/2006 05:58:00 AM, Blogger ugarit said...

ehsani2:

Very good article. I would say that no religion is compatible with libralism and not only Islam, however. Christianity appears to be able to handle libralism because it has been weakend by social forces. BTW, societies tend toward religion when they are feeling vulnerable. There may be some truth to the statement that external threats are contributing to trends towards Islam.

It was easier to dismantle Christianity's hold on society since it was/is centralized. Unfortunately Islam is not. Hence it will be much harder.

Is it not interesting that Europe entered the dark ages when it became Christian and then came out of it when the Church was essentially disarmed.

"In the Koran itself, it says that Allah listened to his first enemy,
Satan, and Satan refused to obey him. I believe that Allah was capable
of wiping out Satan, yet He listened to Satan's refusal to obey Him.

At the very least, we demand that Muslims today listen to people with
different opinions." -- Adonis

 
At 6/08/2006 09:58:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Nationalist Party said...

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“They felt that Khomeini and his brand of government were going to be their savior. Unless they were given the chance to try it, it would have remained a beautiful unattained dream. But now that they have tried it, future generations of Persians will say thanks but no thanks”

The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most Technologically advanced countries in the Middle East. In a decade it will supersede that of the Jewish Gypsies State.

It is one of the richest countries in the region and the most democratic one. It has legally licensed more than 1000 political parties and maintains a Parliament that even Gypsy Jew is currently an elected member. Despite all the wealth, you do not see the Mullah or Nizhad hogging all the oil production revenues to their own family, like you see in all the Western backed countries and even including Syria. The leaders lives in relative modesty and corruption is unheard off.

Today Iran holds huge cash and oil reserve that are spent only via the authority of it’s Parliament and not some Western educated Sheik (shit). It has huge industrial base that can manufactures everything from submarines and ships to luxury cars and even small passenger planes. All that despite a brutal 8 years war that was unjustly imposed on it by the West and Dr. Mengele Rumsfeld.

The Islamic Mullah don’t ship cash in plane loads to be deposited into the private accounts controlled by the Rothschild’s and Rockefellers like those fucking Western educated Arab Bedouin Emirs, they invest the cash in the country to build a modern industrial base . So that is of course a problem for the West, and hence the label Axis of Evil is attached to them.

If one wants to choose between the Rulers of Iran or any of the other secular and non secular Arab rulers the choice is obvious even for the most naïve of the public.

The people of the Middle East choose Islam because they see a country and leaders like that of the Islamic Republic of Iran and compare it in terms of democracy , fairness, justice, equity and all others to countries like well, too long to mention, for the sake of example, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco and how about this for a joke the Sultan of Brunei, yep the mother that spends his nation wealth on whores. He imports whores from all over the world ( read about the horror story)

Do you really believe for one bit that the 37 Billion Dollars deposited in the West in the personal accounts of that fucker that rules Saudi Arabia will ever be allowed to return to the country. He steels it from his stupid Bedouin citizens and basically give it to America as the price his despot slave trading family is allowed to stay in power. He knows he will never ever see a dime of it back for himself or his stupid Bedouins.

Rather than invest these Billions to develop the Islamic world, he give it away and buy Worthless Jewish Certificate of Deposit and Long T Bills. Pretty long, 30 years. He on paper of course collect few pennies of interests, but the billions are invested in the West to finance the citizens and industries and make it the kind of high living standard you see.

I hope you are right that Islam will win the day. If the Mullahs and the Islamic Republic of Iran is an example and the rest of the Western Jewish enslaved and Emir enslaved countries and systems is another only insane person will not choose the Islamic one.

 
At 6/08/2006 11:11:00 AM, Blogger sisco-side said...

I knew from the first time I read a post by this so called Ehsani that he worked and is being used by Joshua landis.

Joshua landis is trying so hard to prove to the US Administration that the alternative(s) to Bashar Assad dictatorship is/are Islam/Islamists, and only that.

Ehasani's game, playing as an Opponent of the Syrian regime is fooling few for sure, but he is certainly working on behalf of Joshua Landis's fatal attraction to save a "young" dictator he is in love with.

 
At 6/08/2006 08:31:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

sisco-side,

Since I neither met the man nor revealed my identity to him, it would be technically difficult to so-called “work for him” at least.

Is Joshua Landis using me?

Though most people have viewed me as nothing but a Neocon mouthpiece thus far, it is interesting to hear that I have now made a grand transformation by reengineering myself as Landis mouthpiece. It seems that my article really touched a nerve with you.

It is regrettable that you feel this way. Just like every article that I posted before, Mr. Landis has neither edited nor approved or disapproved a single one of them prior to them being posted. The idea behind this particular post came to me after an intense discussion with one of my close relatives. Our discussion was so interesting and intense that I decided to put in writing.

When I decided to post almost a year ago, I had made the decision to hide behind the EHSANI2 name so that I can say what I want whenever I want without having to worry about anything or anyone. Not a single person including Mr. Landis knows my true identity (at least I hope so). If you read my post carefully, I never predicted or hoped that Bashar will prevail. The title of my article is “As” dictatorships fall and not “If” dictatorships fall. Indeed, based on the record of my comments, I think that I have continued to reiterate my long held view that Bashar’s economic policies have been an utter failure. His continued disregard of the corruption scandals of his immediate family members have also been impossible to ignore. It is shocking that a person like Rami Makhlouf continues to essentially ”get away with murder”. When is it enough and when is Bashar ever going to stop him and others I continue to ask myself? The idea that Bashar will embark on a set of political or economic reforms that has been championed by many is something that I have never been convinced of. This regime will do everything it can to stay in power. Perhaps you and I would have acted the same way if we sat in their seat. Who knows? My friend Ammar wrote to me on his site in an effort to remind me that Hafez Assad was not exactly our own Ataturk-type figure. According to Ammar, Ataturk presided over a truly secular and professional army when Hafez was only interested in recruiting people of his own sect. It is hard to disagree with this observation. But, Ataturk did not come from a minority. Had he been a Kurd for example, would he have acted like he did or would he have been closer to Hafez? The latest Khaddam episode has an interesting parallel. One can argue that Hafez did include a Sunni like him in his inner circle. I am sure Bashar today thinks that his father made a mistake by relying on a Sunni in that position. One would think that the palace must have been thinking that had Khaddam been an Alawi, this latest Khaddam episode may not have taken place. I am not condoning this line of thinking but I think it must be the current thinking at the leadership level.

In conclusion, while I have a whole set of gripes with the regime I do not want to be blinded by the dangers that lurk in the background. I happen to believe that we cannot be oblivious to the risks associated with a scenario where the Islamists reach power following the fall of the regime. It is worth clarifying that I never believed that liberals and fundamentalists couldn’t ever work in tandem. They clearly do so in Israel for example. The first round race, however, is most likely not going to be won by the liberals. How long this first round lasts is anyone’s guess. It has lasted 27 years in Iran and we are still counting. Hopefully, our round will be shorter in tenure. I am sure and hopeful that the day will come when our society is likely to reject and repudiate Islamic governance after it tries it. But trying it, most likely it will do first. If you do not share my views or that you feel that the liberals will be the winners of this race to the top from the start, then I salute you and pray that you are right and I am wrong.

 
At 6/08/2006 09:33:00 PM, Blogger sisco-side said...

Hamas is sad about the death of Zarqawi, and called him a martyre.

I am sure that Bashar Assad (acting now as an ally to Hamas)is as sad.

Hafez Assad can never be compared to any historically great man such as ataturk, or any body eklse. Hafez Assad was a destroyer, not a builder. He only was interested in promoting sectarian and tribal divisions among Syrians, and among his own minority so he can govern, corrupt every thing, and govern, and get rich along with all of his family members. He was not a principled man. In fact, Hafez assad was the one to revive the status of the Muslim Brotherhoods before they turned against him later on. Even after the 80's, Hafez assad made many attempts to heal the wounds between him and the MBs, and had many encounters with their leaders, and meanwhile, it was always the Syrian Liberals that he had fought without any mercy. Even today, it is the Syrian liberals that are paying the heavy price, and his son, Bashar Assad has been jailing liberals since 2001.

Again, do not compare Assad with any greatl historical leader. The Father and the Son can only be compared to Mafia like leaders, and even there, Mafia leaders are more trust worthy, and may be using their wealth for something good, constructive, while the Assads were nothing more than destroyers.

So, people (what people?) called you "neocon"? What people? These people are the ones posting here and defending the Assad regime? Of course, it is as I said earlier: You and they are playing the game that some people may have been fooled by, but believe me, not every one does not see the game you are playing!

This is not the first time that Joshua Landis chooses your articles to use in the defense of the Assad regime, and you are no neo con!!!

 
At 6/08/2006 10:20:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

sisco-side,

You are entitled to your opinions of course. You seem to have made up your mind already. I guess my first reply was not enough to convince you that you are mistaken. It seems that by posting on the main section, I have created the impression that you cited. It is also clear that only when I start to relentlessly attack Mr. Landis and the regime will I be able to reclaim my credibility as seen from your perspective.

 
At 6/09/2006 02:34:00 AM, Blogger Karfun said...

May he rest in piece, sorry..peace.

http://the-post-postmodernist.blogspot.com/2006/06/zarqawi-dead-most-beautiful-of-his-72.html

 
At 6/09/2006 03:26:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Ehsani,

Dont waste your time with Sisco. Its the same fool as SRPS, JAM, Ya Libnan, Pascal and others. its just another nickname. and i'm sure he will banned soon as well

 
At 6/09/2006 09:52:00 AM, Blogger Alawites for Syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6/09/2006 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Alawites for Syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6/09/2006 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Alawites for Syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6/09/2006 03:06:00 PM, Blogger Nafdik said...

Ehsani,

Your comment is spot on.

Islam is a phase that our country has to experiment with. We just have to try to make it as short and as safe as possible.

Preaching abstinance will not work, pass the kids some condoms and let them do what they got to do.

 
At 6/09/2006 05:02:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Nafdik,

Good comment as usual.

You summarized what I wanted to say perfectly.

It is a phase we must accept as inevitable. It the cost of doing business as we emabrk on our so-called democracy dream.

 
At 6/10/2006 02:24:00 AM, Blogger Behnam said...

It would be high time to actively talk about a “Bill of Rights” for Syrians. Obviously in order to address sectarian issues, and to put a stop to Islamist planning to substitute the regime with an Islamist regime, you will need a Syrian Bill of Rights. If you want MB to play fair, then ask them to put their signature on a Bill of Rights for Syrians. Then we will see if they are scheming (which they are) - or if they plan to mend their ways and start playing fair with seculars, religious minorities, Kurds, Alewites, liberals, etc.

Remember that after all, the greatest fear of the MB (and Islamist movements in general) is the democratic process with internaltionally monitored elections, where they can be freely criticized in the press. That is why the right to a free press, and the fundamental rights of Syrians, must be decided now, and not later.

The first thing a proper NSF must do is to write a BOR in exile, have it debated on blogs and discussion boards, and have all the opposition groups accept it in the open.

Once Bashar is overthrown by civil disobedience, IT WILL BE TOO LATE TO START DESIGNING A BILL OF RIGHTS.

In other words, a Bill of Rights must be written now, and not after the commotion begins to overthrow the regime. It is impossible to agree to a Bill of RIghts once the regime starts faltering and the Islamists (and fascists) start smelling the sweet smell of victory.

With a BOR, all democratic opposition movements can unite now based on this document - which will also witness the approval and backing of the UN and the EU. A united opposition, that can agree on something as basic as this, will then work better together and be more effective in its program of civil disobedience. And the Syrian people of all stripes will have more confidence in the opposition, when the opposition has to put their name on such a document. IMO, one of the greatest fears of the apolitical and the subdued citizens of Syria is the fear of the unknown - ie, "what will we get, if I go to the streets and risk my neck".

apologies to those who have seen this elsewhere (Across the Bay, Free Syria, Amarji).

 
At 6/10/2006 07:46:00 AM, Blogger majedkhaldoon said...

bill of rights is written in Damascus Declaration

 
At 6/10/2006 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Nafdik said...

Behnam,

I think a "bill of rights" is a great tool that would allow the opposition to neutrelize the fears of minorities that fear the dictatorship of the majority.

The Damascus Declaration is a step in the right direction but we need something more formal and binding that can become a legal and founding document in our post-assad nation.

 
At 6/10/2006 10:13:00 PM, Blogger bashmann said...

Salute to Mr. Ehsani on a profound vision of our Arab and MiddleEastern society. I agree with him 100%. Islamists will be in power whenever and where ever a true democratic reforms takes place in any of the Arab countries. The opium of the Islamic religion has a grip on all classes of society in the middle east. Especially now in Syria where the government of Mr. Bashar Assad have found a new ally to its perverted defiant ideologies to the west and have solidified its support to the the mosques by relaxing its grip on their speeches and religious freedom. Bashar's father would be turning in his grave if he hears of what is happenning now in Syria. Groups of Islamists have been regrouping and religious fever has never seen a revival among young and old since the days of the Muslims brotherhoods. All I can say is watch out as playing with fire at the end will always burn you.

 
At 6/13/2006 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Behnam said...

majedkhaldoon: "bill of rights is written in Damascus Declaration"

No such thing. Please read the Damascus Declaration, and there is no mention of human rights. There is no enumeration.

Compare the document to a real Bill of Rights:

http://www.europarl.eu.int/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf

The EU charter is of course very modern and advanced for Syria. But it is a good place to start. The Damascus Declaration is the WRONG document and is full of argumentations and poorly written ideological statements. Hardly a declaration.

 
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