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The Sad Syrian - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is hard to understand Syria’s impasse which it is said was the motive behind Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent speech, in which he leveled accusations at everyone. The Syrian president does not want to move forward or backward, and does not want to make peace or fight. He takes pride in the wars of others. We will not be able to understand him unless we put the complex Syrian situation to a candid psychological discussion.

A visitor of the Syrian capital Damascus will notice that the city has not changed over the past 30 years, which demonstrates that it will not change politically. Life in Damascus is at a stand still, and the only change one can see there is a few new model cars. Everything else has remained the same since the 1967 defeat — the buildings, the streets, public life, and the political scene. Syrian has not changed although the entire world has changed. Syria, Cuba, and North Korea are the last three countries in the world that live in a freezer.

The situation in Syria is painful to the Syrian people, the last beleaguered Arabs. An ordinary citizen in Syria does not know what the future holds for him or for his sons, because the political regime is unable to do anything in any direction. It is sad to see in the Al-Mujawir neighborhood in Dubayy the high rise buildings that a number of Syrian merchants have built, just as many Syrian citizens have done outside their country. These people got fed up with waiting and despaired of any positive change, even if only a limited one. They were even worried that the situation may change to the worst in Syria. This explains the state of the Syrian people’s misery. The whole world around them has changed, and the entire Arab world from the farthest corner to the other has changed with varying degrees, except their country.

Whoever sees Cairo with its new liberties and growing economy, notwithstanding its circumstances and huge population; or Morocco with its liberties and major administrative reforms, and, for that matter, the same progress that taken place in Algeria, Yemen, the Gulf States, and Jordan, must notice that Syria alone looks as thought it lives in a cave. Since the end of the Cold War, changes have swept nearly all countries of the world. The wave of change and modernization has not left behind any country, big or small, from India and China to Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

It is clear that a country that fears to effect the simplest change to its economic rules must be too impotent to move one step forward. This explains why Syria remains cocooned in its rigid world like North Korea, where starvation has battered the country hard for three years.

Were Syria in a state of war, its rigidity would be justified. But it has not entered one single war except for targeting an Israeli in Lebanon, its war of words with the Lebanese, and wars waged on its behalf by others. Hence, the Syrian regime is excused for its domestic impotence and verbal bravado. Unless this regime solves its domestic problems, introduces reform, and build confidence, it will not move one step forward.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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