Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syrian Baath Party Conference | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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One can argue that unless the Baath Conference in Damascus distances itself from its usual superficial reforms and abandons its façade, the meeting will not be effective. In order to achieve political and social reform, Syria must undergo severe changes.

The first step on the road to reform is to put a stop to the single-party control concerning public issues. In Damascus, the ruling party has control over all institutions in the country and Parliament, in addition to press and other forms of media. The party makes all decisions without any external participation and without regard to the National Front, which seems to be mere political decoration.

This system seems to have killed any spirit of innovation within the government. The criterion now is simply loyalty to the state instead of efficiency. The situation is relatively the same in academic and media sectors where loyalty to the party is still the main guideline.

Moreover, intellectual and political efforts have been disrupted by this, as anybody with a conflicting viewpoint is portrayed as an enemy to the state.

Examples of single party regimes have been abundant all over the world and so have their downfalls, most notably is the vivid case of the late Soviet Union.

Syria is in desperate need of renewing itself. Despite its leader coming with fresh and ambitious proposals, the political circle and party remained the same. This old circle is inefficient in handling the current changes and developments on both a national and international level. Supposing they have good intentions, this is not enough to deal with our new world. It is for this reason that we partake in hopeless battles. The latest of these failures was the Lebanese presidential election encounter and the unjustifiable obstinacy that the Syrian government showed. How they dealt with economic reform and how they generally deal with opposed opinions are more examples of their strategy.

Instead, the fight should be against financial and administrative corruption. The whole country now seems motionless. In this abnormal situation, no more initiatives are taken within the Syrian private sector which has been known for its intelligence and activity. A large sum of private Syrian capital is kept outside the country, as its owners would not risk transferring it to this gloomy atmosphere.

It will take major decisions for economic and political reform to be successful in Syria. Open-mindedness and the freedom of contradictory opinions are essential for reform. Syria needs to open up its doors to the world and needs a new political language. The biggest danger to Syria now is to continue ruling in the way that it does so today.