These are my three commentaries on posts which have appeared on the Syria Comment website recently.
Comment on an article in The Economist, Jun 29th 2006, CAIRO (reproduced on Syria Comment)
"DEMOCRACY IN THE ARAB WORLD: NOT YET, THANKS"
July 06, 2006, Philip I said...
It is a highly depressing picture, but only to those who are old enough and have experienced living in a Western-style democracy.
Politics is about the interplay of culture, philosophy and economics. Arab societies are very young and generally impoverished (despite the oil wealth). Compared with Western and some Far Eastern nations, they are philosophically immature and culturally poor. The educational system and the way religion is taught and practised do not encourage free thinking and open debate and, for centuries, the only political model is oppression and the personality cult.
Nevertheless, there are grounds for optimism. Arab youth are angry. Some may vent their anger through political Islam but the majority is quietly looking for a way out. Thanks to satellite TV, the Internet, mobile phones and cheaper travel, they can at least see alternatives or possible compromises. They are communicating more energetically with the rest of world and sharpening their language and their minds in the process. Some are already protesting more loudly, both at home and in the cyber world. Soon they will want to organise themselves politically and begin to force change, hopefully for the better.
Political Islam is as opportunistic as fundamental Christianity. Both are blinkered and prey on the disaffected youth. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the main proponents and financiers of political Islam while the Vatican, US pressure groups and Israel fund uncompromising Christian and Jewish disciples to varying degrees and to different political ends.
Syria is almost unique in the Arab world for its history of cultural and religeous openness and tolerance. But these fine attributes, which make for a better and more progressive society, are fast evaporating. They are being offered as fresh meat to Iran in exchange for political protection, while Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood stand ready to pick the bones. But the vast majority of Syria's youth is far too intelligent and moderate to allow itself to be indoctrinated by Imams, Bishops or, for that matter, hypocritical Baathists.
At Tuesday, July 04, 2006, Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe, said...
(THIS WAS A HIGHLY-CHARGED POST, WHICH USED FOUL LANGUAGE TO DISCREDIT AND INSULT CRITICS OF THE SYRIAN REGIME. THE POST WAS REMOVED BY THE BLOG ADMINISTRATOR, BUT A REPOST, SHOWING EXTRACTS CAN STILL BE SEEN ON THE SYRIA COMMENT WEBSITE)
At Tuesday, July 04, 2006, Philip I said...
You defend the regime so passionately. Fine. Can you elighten us with answers to these puzzling questions?
1) Where exactly was the Syrian airforce when the Israeli planes flew at low altitude over the summer palace north of Lattakia? (please don't mention the fireworks)
2) What's happend to the billions of US dollars that have supposedly been spent on the military since 1973 (33 years of spending our money without protecting us from the enemy!)
Anyone can be an ultra-nationalist. Talk is cheap.
Anyone can be stubborn and rejectionist and so can a mule.
Assad's officers do not have time to fight (too busy spending our stolen wealth), do not know how to fight (out of practice for 33 years) and certainly don't want to fight (there are more intelligence officers than army officers and they are all spying on each other). All they have learned, since joining the army, 33 yeas ago, is to pick soft targets in Lebanon. Now they are running to the Iranians for protection against the big bad wolf.
Neither the regime nor the Baath party can claim to have any real principles or honour left in their bones. Syria and its people have never been so poorly represented by their government, so weak and so humiliated.
At Tuesday, July 04, 2006, Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe said...
(This follow up post has been removed by the blog administrator)
At Tuesday, July 04, 2006, Philip I, said...
Metaz K. M. Aldendeshe, I would say this:
Let other countries deal with their own rulers. You can swear and curse until you are blue in the face. But you still have no right to impose your view of the world on them. They are INDEPENDENT countries.
Shared Arab identity, shared Islam, shared history, shared language....all fine. They still owe you and me NOTHING. You can blame them for not coming forward to help you or the poor Palestinians, you can blame imperialism and Zionism for creating artificial barriers and borders between the Arabs until you are blue in the face. The other Arab countries still owe you and me NOTHING.
Once you accept this reality and this logic you begin to focus on putting your own house in order first. The Syrian government has neglected its home and abused its own family members for 30 years. The Assads hijacked the Baath party and corrupted it. Together they have trampled on the middle class and driven many talented Syrians out of the country. And the idiots are still doing it today.
The Syrian consitution has to change, or the country will never move forward. The Baath party must have the same legal status as any other political group. Its legitimacy must stem from honest votes rather than an unfair clause in the constitution, the army and state of emergency powers.
The president should not have executive powers and be allowed to think of himself as the centre of universe and develop a personality cult. Personality worship and fear of the ruler have retarded Arabs and Muslims for centuries.
Until policy making and decison making becomes more democratic (relying on collective wisdom rather than a handful of self-appointed elite), the country will never develop, mature and strengthen. It will lurch from crisis to crisis, become an easy target for Zionists and Neocons and damage relations with other decent countries (like Denmark!). The alliance with Iran is unnecessary and nothing to be proud of. It comes at the expense of cultural and religeous diversity in Syria and is a sign of weakness, which is SELF-INDUCED.