Across the Bay

Monday, November 14, 2005

Homs Declaration

Right after Bashar's speech, the "regime liberals," Ibrahim Hamidi and Sami Moubayed, both wrote back-to-back op-eds in English arguing the line of regime-led reforms (the same nonsense that Bashar and his cheerleaders have been inundating us with for 5 years) as the only way out of the crisis (contrast that with Ammar's remarks).

I couldn't figure it out at the time. Now it's making sense. A group of (Communist, Leftist, Arab nationalist, i.e. more of the same) intellectuals have issued the "Homs Declaration," which supports working with the Assad regime to enact some of these "reforms" that Assad has been talking about for 5 years (and which the Baath Congress brushed off). These guys stand to benefit most of these so-called reforms, which seek to create little more than more "mini-Baaths" to be coopted by the Progressive National Front, as is the case today. That would allow the regime to further crack down on and deligitimate people like Labwani, by calling them tools of the West, and to allow the regime to point to the other guys and say, "see, we have real reformers here." It's a kosher "opposition." An Arab nationalist opposition. One that in the end rallies around Bashar. This is consistent with Bashar's speech, where he split Syrian (and Lebanese!) society and media between "nationalists" and "collaborators." These are the "nationalists."

The obvious intent is to undermine and weaken the Damascus Declaration. The opposition's contradictions will certainly help in this regard (see Ammar's post above), as it at once called the regime part of the problem, but was still trying to work with it.

This is just another example of how reform (and cooperation) is really the last thing on Bashar's mind, regardless of what Flynt Leverett says, and regardless who Bashar is married to. This enables him to crack down on and fragment opposition voices, while maintaining a grip on all initiatives domestically, as he prepares to drag the country to international sanctions, and thinking he'll weather the storm and come out on top.