It is quite amazing to see the web of lies being woven now that the situation in Syria becomes critical. The official narrative, and one which a considerable chunk of the Syrian population wish desperately to believe, is that the protests are being provoked by unknown foreign elements that are trying to destabilise the country. The official media is focusing exclusively on the deaths of members of the security services, ignoring the hundreds of deaths amongst the mostly peaceful protesters that have taken to the streets across Syria. I say that many people wish desperately to believe the official narrative because many people simply don’t want to see more bloodshed and death on the streets of Syria. Many people are also afraid and don’t wish to be seen as accepting the fact that the Syrian government is now at war with its own people.
Syria – An Update
As for the current situation in the country, the only explanation I have so far is that it is utter confusion. The media only receives sketchy information through twitter and facebook. At the moment I am getting reports of a massive attack by security services on the town of Nawa. In the official Syrian news report, there was a warning that some ‘elements’ were deliberately manipulating the distribution of bread to increase the levels of panic. Yet a few hours earlier I heard that the government was withholding grain from the bakeries in Daraa, meaning that nobody can buy bread over there, and this puts more pressure on the ordinary people.
Smoke and Mirrors
From other sources I am hearing ridiculous rumours that Iran and Hezbullah have sent snipers to Syria in order to shoot protesters, because the Syrian soldiers are refusing to fire. I appreciate some soldiers might have refused, but I am pretty sure the Syrian security services are doing quite well shooting their own people without having to ask for help from Iran and Hezbullah. It’s quite ridiculous. At the same time, the Syrian media is, I hear, making a bit of a story about Ghassan bin Jeddo’s resignation from al Jazeera. For the record, Bin Jeddo resigned because of the outrageous coverage of the Bahraini revolution and subsequent repression. He is most certainly supportive of the Syrian revolt that is currently forming and was banned (later lifted) from visiting Syria for his reporting after the Hariri assassination in 2005.
There are unconfirmed rumours floating around about a panic of the monied classes in Syria. The bigger merchants are allegedly trying to transfer assets and funds out of the country and one tweet rumoured that Rami Makhlouf is smuggling out $5 million dollars a day through Bulgarian banks. All this may or may not be true, but it is clear that the current situation is affecting the country’s economy in a bad way. Shops are deserted, banks and merchants are not investing or lending and tourism has slumped. The longer the unrest goes on, the more desperate the situation will become for the regime. This in turn means we can expect an escalation of the violence and bloodshed as the security services crack down hard and violently, in an attempt to shock the populace into submission.
If it is true that the International Criminal Court is thinking of holding the Syrian President and members of the regime responsible for the deaths of at least 170 protesters, then this could be enough of a deterrent against a sequel to the 1982 Hama massacre where the Syrian regime made an example of the city and subsequently gained another thirty years of acquiescence from the terrified population; This is not 1982.
As for the macabre footage that is emerging from Syria, I have purposely chosen not to open the videos I have been sent links to. I have seen one video of a man with his brains blown out in a morgue and have no need to go through anything like that again, if I can help it.
Undoubtedly, there are elements who will be taking advantage of the weakening in Syria, but I do not think that Syria’s regional role, or importance, will be affected. Syria is indeed the beating heart of Arabism and, in fact, of resistance, in the region. But that is not because of the Syrian Baathist regime, rather it is something that comes directly from the people. If groups like those of Khaddam or Rif’aat al Assad think they can just waltz back into the country, take control, make peace with Israel, and join the Saudi bandwagon of moderate states then they are gravely mistaken. As the case of Egypt shows, it does not really matter what a particular dictator does and ultimately the people will rise up and change the reality on the ground. There is no more fear or respect due to the bankrupt Arab regimes that have only offered corruption, cronyism and inefficiency. The mass fortunes we have seen dictators such as Mubarak, Bin Ali or Muammar al Gaddafi gather up makes one thing very clear: The Arab world has sufficient wealth and natural resources to guarantee an opportunity at a dignified life for each and every one of its citizens. It is crystal clear to anybody with common sense that the atrocious economic, social and political reality that has marked the Arab world in general, and Syria in particular, is now undoubtedly due to a failure of leadership at the highest levels, and has nothing to do with religion, culture or any of the other orientalist cliches that have been bandied about in academic and media circles. 2011 is the year the Arab peoples have arisen and taken charge of their own destinies. .