This is a comment from SC which is a very good retort to the positions of the Syrian pro regime people
Sheila answers :
You said: “The most significant has been greater opening of the economy to the international marketplace and futher moves away from Statism and socialism. The process is far from finished and is proceeding at a pace of gradual, organic evolution, and certainly not revolution”. I would like to contend that the only reforms that happened in Syria under Bashar are those that help somebody in the regime make a lot of money. If this is the Chinese model of gradual change, can you explain why China was able to achieve so much more, in the same period, than Bashar? Not withstanding the fact that China as a country is far more complicated than Syria.
I would like to go over your points:
1- You said:”(1) The overall number of people who accepted the invitation to join anti-regime demonstrations was “small” (though no hard number is available)”. Very disputable. Taking into consideration the brutal crack down on dissent in Syria, I would like to argue that the number of demonstrators in the streets is amazingly high (though no hard numbers are available). With the understanding that upon leaving your house you might never come back. That makes one demonstrator, too many.
2- You said: “(2) The educated classes did not join the anti-regime demonstrations“. Very wrong. University students are demonstrating across the country, lawyers, doctors and engineers have staged many demonstrations and sit-ins. The Diaspora, mostly educated, are vehemently against the regime. I do not know where you get this idea. Examples abound: in Homs, the Attasis the Jandalis and the Sbais to name a few. My family alone, which counts in the thousands all highly educated and mostly against the regime.
3- You said: “(3) Most of the religiously conservative classes did not join the anti-regime demonstrations“. Wrong again. Religious conservatives in the Sunni community are staunchly anti regime. You said: “Neither did the clergy; most of the Sunni clerical leadership went on record as anti-tumult and pro-civil-process“. Wouldn‘t you have done the same when your neck is on the line?. Wrong again. Even with the brutality, many clergy men announced their disgust with the regime. You said:” Most of the people who attended the mosque on Friday did not attend an anti-regime demonstration afterwards, not even if there was a demonstration conveniently available and on offer to them at the doorstep”. True when you know you might very well be killed, arrested or tortured. You said: “since most of them don’t express alienation against the regime, you shouldn’t expect them to vote en masse against the regime”. But who can express anything in Syria without fear of severe repercussions?.
4- You said: “(4) No representatives of agricultural or rural interests having been talking up an alternative to the Assad regime“. Of course. Who dares talk about an alternative to the Assad regime?. We know their names: either murdered, in jail, or fled the country. You said: “There was very little or no movement of people from rural areas into the towns and cities to participate in demonstrations (despite some fake boasts from the fake revolutionaries to the contrary)”. Wrong again. There were many attempts to do so. Muhammad just mentioned the one in Idleb that resulted in the killing of 70 demonstrators trying to enter Idleb from the villages to participate in demonstrations. All cities today are enclosed in and protected by check points, precisely to stop the rural areas from pouring into the cities.
5- You said: “(5) Once the reforms announced by Assad are completed, there will be no major disagreements between Assad and the general Opposition on the structure of the institutions of the State”. What reforms?. Is he going to arrest his cousin Najib for torturing children?. Is he going to prosecute his cousin Makhlouf for racketeering? Is he going to issue an arrest warrant for his uncle Rifaat for crimes against humanity? And is he going to go after all the regime thugs for embezzlement?. No reform is meaningful without rooting out corruption and rooting out corruption means throwing all the regime members in prison. This will result in Assad not being able to stand for elections being a convicted felon.
6- You said: “(6) The demonstrators were predominantly from the poorly educated working class. Most of them did not have an agenda beyond wanting Assad to leave and wanting a breath of fresh air in the country of an unspecified kind”. I would like to venture to say that the breath of fresh air that these people want is of a specified kind. It is called dignity.
7- You said: “(7) The various Syrian opposition parties are very weak today, their representatives are barely known or entirely unknown to the Syrian public, and I can’t see a route by which they can make themselves a whole lot stronger by election day”. This depends on when election day is and on whether Syria is still under the Assad regime. You said: “The attempt to unconstitutionally overthrow the regime has discredited swathes of opposition”. May I ask: how do you constitutionally overthrow a dictator?. I would give Syrians more credit than that, even the ones you are accusing of being poorly educated. Even the illiterates get it.
8- You said: “(8) Aleppo (all overwhelmingly Sunni in religion, btw) have had essentially or very nearly zero anti-regime demonstrations during this past six months”. Nearly zero is not true. There has been many demonstrations, however not at the scale of other cities. Aleppo is boiling under the surface and I assure you that the majority of the city would never vote for Assad in a free election.
9- You said: “9) Everybody in Syria knows that the anti-regime crowd has been lying about security forces atrocities and that the regime has been telling the truth. (Foreigners don’t know it, since they don’t watch Syrian TV, but foreigners are irrelevant since they won’t be voting). More generally, the regime has been able to use its control over Syrian mass media especially TV news to strong effect. The State-controlled TV news puts out good quality products for the most part, which enjoy good credibility with the Syrian public, and have good market penetration”. This one renders me speechless. No one I know in Syria believes Syrian TV. Everyone I know in Syria knows what is going on and what atrocities the regime is committing. Even those that are pro regime, are aware of how bad the regime is and are only supporting it because of their fear of the unknown.
I am really tired by now. You exhausted me. Have you lived in Syria?. Do you know or understand the meaning of the word dignity?. This is what it all boils down to. Years and years of being trampled on in every aspect of life. Humiliation in every possible way. Syrians have had enough. The only way Assad will win an election is if he is still in power when it is held and we all know why.