Tuesday, May 24, 2005

But I Want To Be Wrong!

A lot of people still think that the upcoming Baath conference will be bringing with it some serious positive change. They still think that President has it in him. The absence of immediate alternative to the current regime and its President continue to inspire some hope in them that things are bound to take a turn for the better. This regime and this President simply have no choice but to brig about some change.

The question of whether they have what it takes to produce a semblance for a new vision for the country doesn’t seem to bother them much. For, as long as there is no alternative, whatever little changes brought about by the regime and the President is bound to lead to something that can be considered reform, in a few years time.

I don’t know what is more dismal: my vision of impending doom, or this “cautiously optimistic” one? But I really have to ask here…

Have our noses become so clogged up that we cannot tell the difference between the winds of change and a chronic case of halitosis, or a collective breaking of the wind on top of our heads, a wet anal sigh of relief of sorts?

Waiting for a deus ex machina to come and save the day is in itself problematic, but to expect the arrival of a deus ex diaboli is simply ridiculous. We are waiting for our criminals to become saints and our idiots to become geniuses, and we are expecting this to happen overnight too.

The line of “reasoning” involved here seems to go as follows: “these people can’t be that stupid, they must know that they need to change. They must still be capable of producing something. There is no alternative to them, and there is no alternative for them but to change in order to soften international pressures on them.”

I think that we are losing sight of several important considerations here:

  • The regime is very fragmented, but each group in itself is weak and views the others as competitors. As such, no one is trying to take charge. Everybody is on a wait-and-see mode. The regime is surviving by default.
  • The central authorities have shown over the last few years that their grip on the country is growing rather weak, and that while they are still capable of cracking down, holding the country together is quite the different story.
  • There are no intelligent people around in the upper ranks of the regime. The non-Baathist reformers that have been brought in act only as advisors. They have no real say in the decision-making process itself. The decisions are thus left to the morons in charge.
  • The Americans, while they may not invade at this stage, will continue to pressure and dabble in Syria’s affairs.
  • And the Street is boiling, or am I the only one seeing this?

But here, perhaps, we have to note that the Street is not primarily represented by the Middle Class anymore. As such when people say that the President is popular, I think they are often referring to the sentiments of the continuously shrinking Middle Class, that is, to people who still have something to lose, and, are therefore, still inclined to believe that the President can do it, that he can still save the day. They want to believe.

The poor, on the other hand, who represent the majority at this stage, seem to be beginning to realize that the President is neither capable nor even interested in improving their lot. And they seem to be going past the frustration stage into a state of anger. This bodes ill for the stability of the country. Indeed, the days of open rioting in major cities like Damascus, Aleppo, and Lattakia are fast approaching.