Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Al-Assad: Between the King and the Prime Minister | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A look at the last 24 hours in our region reveals much, and the headlines – according to the news line-up – is as follows; the King of Jordan announces that future cabinets will be formed according to an elected parliamentary majority; Erdogan celebrates re-election by winning popular majority in Turkey; Lebanon announces the formation of a new government, and the first to congratulate Beirut is the al-Assad regime, which also announced the “liberation” of Jisr al-Shagour.

These three pieces of news over the past 24 hours summarize the state of our region, and its problems. Here we see a monarch relinquishing some of his powers, taking the high-road in this turbulent scene and responding to the demands of his people, the King of Jordan has taken a reformative stance that places his country in the ranks of constitutional monarchies. We must also make note that the Kingdom of Jordan overlooks the most dangerous borders in our region today. It borders rebellious Syria and its oppressive regime, as well as non-independent Iraq, and then there is Israel which cannot be trusted whatsoever; therefore Jordan has no good and open-hearted neighbor other than Saudi Arabia!

As for Turkey, we have seen Recep Tayyip Erdogan standing overjoyed and humble, in front of the support of his own people. According to his own supporters, he is the “Islamic” prime minister, having been re-elected with a clear majority by Turks from all walks of life; he also pledged that Turkey will be a model of democracy in the Arab world. Erdogan celebrated his democratic re-election in the midst of the mosaic of Turkish society, telling the people of Turkey that “we are victorious…we have not come to power to become your masters, but your servants.” At the same time as this, the Erdogan government has been extending a helping hand to the people of Syria, with more than six thousand Syrians fleeing the brutality of the al-Assad regime [by seeking asylum in Turkey]. So there is little wonder that the people of Syria were busy yesterday congratulating the Turks on having a leader like Erdogan, as well as congratulating the Jordanians for King Abdullah II. At the same time, Syrian President al-Assad was congratulating [Lebanese Prime Minister] Najib Mikati on the formation of a new Lebanese government…or let us say a Syrian – Hezbollah government! As we said before, here we see one monarch responding to his people, and another prime minister celebrating his landslide re-election, and this is in two countries that are neighbors, and which share borders with Syria; namely Jordan and Turkey. Meanwhile the regime in Damascus is busy suppressing its own citizens, and a government is being formed in Lebanon – and my God what a government! – where the new Lebanese Foreign Minister is none other than the former Lebanese ambassador to Tehran!

After all of this, can there be any optimism with regards to the future actions of the Syrian regime, and this is despite its misleading announcements about its desire for reform? I doubt it! All the events indicate that the al-Assad regime is behind the time, and has not embraced the changes that have taken place in our region. The Damascus regime is operating based upon alarmingly outdated presumptions – 40 years out of date – and it is talking about sectarianism, civil war, and foreign conspiracy, however all of these are things that our region did not experience until after the formation of the Syria – Iran – Lebanon axis, or let us say the outbreak of the Khomeinist revolution in Iran. Let us look at a simple example here, the newly formed Lebanese government has 7 Sunni ministers and 5 Shiite ministers, which is the first such distribution since the Taif Accords [1989]; this is a message to the Syrian interior more than it is a message to the people of Lebanon, for the Lebanese regime does not want to provoke the largest component of Syrian society, namely the Sunnis. Other evidence [of this] is that the Iranian Foreign Minister has yet to visit Syria until now, and according to my own information, the Iranian Foreign Minister asked to be allowed to visit only for Damascus to refuse, as this could potentially provoke the people of Syria, and this is despite the fact that the Syrian people can see the Iranians [in their country] with their own eyes.

Therefore, in conclusion, there is no hope that the Damascus regime will carry out any reforms, and the reason for this is simple, namely that the Syrian regime exists outside of the scope of time and events, and continues to act according to a mentality that is 40-years out of date. Damascus has not realized the magnitudes of the changes that have taken place in our region, and most importantly the changes that have taken place within Syria itself.