Across the Bay

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Heresy in Syria

Ammar Abdulhamid is going through very dark times and sounding gloomier by the day. That's a bad sign. I just hope he gets out soon. Nothing is worth this agony. And he's right: "What used to be helpful for us [him and his wife] before [i.e., his ties to people and organizations in the US], will soon turn against us."

Today he put up a post highlighting what he thinks are "the only possible scenarios in Syria today:"

* A purge by the Presidential Family to help them stay in power and avoid any potential sedition related to the impending withdrawal from Lebanon or impending international sanctions as a result of not-withdrawing (hence the recent promotion of the brother-in-law making him in charge of all military intelligence).

** Assassinating the President as the most logical fall-guy, in the hope of stirring the mix a little bit, and create a new sense of dynamics, which, whether violence [sic] or not, could eventually pave the way for a faster “recovery” from all set-backs.

*** The emergence of a fifth column which will most assuredly seek US support to overthrow the current leaders, seeing that the gun-power is on their side. Believe it or not, the Fifth Column here will most likely be made up of certain Old Guard figures, Sunnis and ‘Alawis alike, who are rumored to be extremely upset with the President’s handling of the country’s foreign affairs. Indeed, we have to note here that we can no longer live under the old assumption that Old Guard are to blame for the country’s stalemate. Indeed, it now seems that the New Guard, the President included, are more to blame.

It must be said that he doesn't endorse any of this, and is quick to clarify that: "Not even a successful regime change will give me hope, unless it were peaceful. For violence will only beget violence and the sectarian black hole will suck us all in. I wouldn’t want that for us."

But I found two things he said very revealing, coming from someone on the inside, so to speak:

1- "[W]e have to note here that we can no longer live under the old assumption that Old Guard are to blame for the country’s stalemate. Indeed, it now seems that the New Guard, the President included, are more to blame."

2- "I cannot see but portents of doom. (Note: these very people were hopeful too when the President came to power. I was mostly skeptical then too, but I was willing to believe nonetheless, or, rather, to work against my own cynicism."

The first point is something I've been repeating relentlessly. It's something to hear Ammar say it as well. Let me say it once more: Bashar and his family are directly in charge of the Lebanon portfolio. The Old Guard have been sidelined.

It comes as no surprise then to see Ammar angry at himself for allowing himself to go against his better instincts. But he shouldn't be. That was the only opening and he took it to try to make a difference. The fact that Bashar never ever intended to even think about political reforms shouldn't make a difference as far as Ammar is concerned. No need to be ashamed for God's sake. Many were duped, because after so many years of sterility, any hint of a better life was to be seized, and rightly so. Alas, it was a cruel joke. Now you see the bitter taste it has left in the mouths of many a hopeful Syrian.

Ammar thinks the people there are apathetic, and hence sees no prospect for a popular uprising:

If I could only see the slightest possibility of popular agitation against the regime, I would never leave the country, and would Khawla herself, for all her worries and angst will back me on this. But continued popular apathy combined with the impotence of opposition and dissident groups make such a prospect highly unlikely.
[Ammar asked a taxi driver] "would you join an anti-government demonstration?" I asked. But "this is not Lebanon,” I was reminded, the assholes over here are willing to destroy every house in every city rather than give up power.

Very Sad and frustrating. Decades of terror, sterility, annihilation of opposition as well as all semblance of political life, and the ever-present example of Hama, are bound to have an effect. But one never knows.