Across the Bay

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hot Baath

If you want to understand just how insane and out of touch the Syrian Baath is, just take a look at this summary (Arabic) of the official report on the Baath Conference. It's hilarious.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now to translate parts of it, but I'll hopefully translate some highlights in an addendum later on, as I'm trying to finish loads of work right now, which is why my posting has been light and short. But Arabic readers looking for a laugh should definitely take a look.

Also, check out the following articles from Elaph, here and here.

The first quotes former MP Salah Hnein as saying that one of the reasons behind Syria's behavior is because it has never really acknowledged Lebanon as a state. Also, Syria has a "totalitarian mindset" which prevents it from dealing with Lebanon in any other way except through security services and bullying, and not through state to state relations.

The second story by Bahiyya Mardini notes the return in Syria of physical liquidation of members of political parties (when did it stop!?). Yesterday, a member of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party, Kamran Hamza Muhammad, was shot dead, in a continuing pressure on Kurdish parties in Syria, which included the murder of Kurdish Sheikh Khaznawi.

The Syrians are afraid of only two parties inside Syria: the Kurds and the Muslim Brotherhood. The rest are bullied every time they try to make an alliance with either one. Read Anwar al-Bunni's interview with Joe Pace for more.

And we're asked to believe that this thug (Bashar) and his posse are the way to go in Syria, if we want reforms! Ammar sees it slightly differently, and more realistically:

The problem with reform in the region, the reason why we don’t have enlightened despots at work, is simply the total corruption of our political and economic elite. We have thieves and thugs for decision-makers, avaricious morons for policy advisors and dreamy nincompoops for technocrats. How on earth can we modernize with this lot?

He also nailed the kind of reforms Bashar has in mind: "a democracy that does not change anything, that does not upset any scheme, that does not antagonize any elite."

That's the paradoxical statico change Bashar has in mind.

Finally, take a look at Michael Young's latest in the DS on how Syria's gambit with Iran is not only empty, but may end up costing Bashar more than he ever bargained for. (See a different version of this article in Reason.)

Update: Joshua Landis alerts us to Megan Stack's piece on the Khaznawi murder. Don't forget to read Josh's remarks as well.

Update 2: Bahiyya Mardini reports new clashes between Kurds (PKK) and Syrian security services in Ayn al-Arab in North-East Syria.

Update 3: Even more on the Kurds, by Joe Pace, courtesy of Syria Comment.