Tag Archives: Bashar al-Assad

The Pesky Middle Classes of Syria’s Regime: The Paradox of a Caste that Must Shape Syria’s Post-Revolutionary Future

Commentary by Tamer Mallat – July 18 2011

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It was on March 15, 2011, in the heart of the Syrian capital Damascus, that the spark of a protest attended by no more than a few dozens ignited a revolution that would engage millions. It is in Damascus where, symbolically, and then structurally, the Syrian Revolution will bear fruit and finally end. Symbolically, because the capital represents, with the northern city of Aleppo, one of the last autocratic havens for the regime. Structurally, because the fall of these fortresses will not be the work of the countryside revolutionaries, but by those who today constitute the last bastions of regime support: the urban Syrian middle classes. Continue reading

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Syria’s Winds of Radical Change

Commentary by @LeShaque  – 8 June 2011

The winds of change have been blowing throughout the Middle East in what has become known as the Arab Spring. In a region that has known little change over the past few decades, people are taking to the streets demanding improvement of their living standards. Not surprisingly, as their lives are more or less the same as they were in the 1950s. These hopes for change came into direct conflict with the regimes’ desire to maintain the status quo that has kept them in power all this time. Continue reading

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From Hama to Deraa: How a Barbaric Episode in History Repeats Itself

Commentary by Tamer Mallat & Antoine Alhéritière – 9 May 2011

This week, reports portraying the consequences of Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on the March 15 movement have begun to reveal the extent of the bloodbath being produced in Syria. The iconic border-town of Deraa, which has become the symbol of Syria’s fledgling opposition movement, has been under siege by the Syrian army for more than ten days now. The death count for the past few days, just released by The Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS), numbers in the hundreds. From children to army officers and conscripts shot in the back – most likely because they refused to fire on unarmed protestors – no segment of the Syrian population appears to be spared from the sordid picture that is being drawn. Dubbed a “massacre”, the repression in Deraa evokes memories of an all-too similar event that occurred in 1982 when Hama suffered one of the most brutal crackdowns in Arab history, with the number of deaths estimated at being well over 20,000. Continue reading

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Suckered into Authoritarian Tactics: How Obama and Sarkozy Got Syria Wrong

Commentary by Tamer Mallat – 8 May, 2011

The year 2008 marked a shift in US and French foreign policy strategies with Syria. From a policy of complete isolation, to cautious inclusion, the US and France hoped to lure the Syrian regime out of the Iranian sphere of influence in the region. They believed that unlike his father, the Western educated Bashar al-Assad had the potential to become a credible and reliable partner in the Middle East. When the Arab uprisings first began to spread from country to country, Bashar, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, boasted that Syria would not house the scene of a revolution. On March 15, protests began in the southern border-town of Deraa spreading soon after from city to city. The repressive machine was unleashed, but despite massive killings and arrests, the French and American governments remain attached to ‘behavioral change’ over ‘regime change.’ Continue reading

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