Managing Transition!

The VP bombshell will definitely overshadow what I was planning to do by way of ending this year. Still, I will end this year by sticking to my plan. The following link is to a little effort of mine meant to help the opposition inside Syria get their act together over the next few months. It is not something that would not have occurred on the minds of many of them, but I think that framing things in this manner might help stir a necessary and more focused debate. This is the link to the English text, and this one is to the Arabic.

Happy New Year everyone! There is hope for freedom yet.

Heretically yours,

9 thoughts on “Managing Transition!

  1. Ammar, A question that has always dogged me whenevr I articulate views similar to yours regarding the establishment of a truly secular, democratic and hopefully equitable society is simply whether such a society demands , as a prerequisite, the presence of a particular mind set among the populace, an educated citizenry that wants and values secularism and human dignity. I wonder whether at times we try to grow a democracy in an infertile soil? I guess that I am worried about Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and others when we speak about the establishment of civil societies in these states not for the lack of qualified individuals to run the machinery of the state but for the low level of accountability that the citizens demend in return. Democracy must not be equated merely with the franchise. My question to you: Are we being naieve and unrealistic when we argue for democracy without paying adequate attention to the level of education,values and mores?

  2. I agree with you Ghassan, the people are indeed not ready for democracy, but they are ready for democratization. In other words, they are ready to learn, and the learning process is going to be very messy indeed. Just look at Iraq. It’s going to take decades, and there are no guarantees. But what choice do we really have? How did the “West” achieve democracy anyway? By being smart and doing all the right things? I don’t think so. People never do the right thing immediately, they stumble on that somehow. We just have to keep on trying and paying the heavy price for it until we stumble on the right answer.Even if we are not ready for democratization, we really have no choice, do we? Modernity and Globalization are unruly mistresses, and time is never on our side, unless we make it so.

  3. We really do not disagree on this matter. I just feel uneasy whenevr we seem to overpromise in regards to what will be the outcome of a regime change. You are absolutely right that we have no choice but to go down the road of modernity but I believe that it is squally important to make it clear that the road to democracy is rough and full of uncertainties. That is the price for creativity and freedom. If on the other hand we seek certainty then stagnation and authoritarianism are the only choice. Modernity is not only about an equality of opportunity but it is also about change, flexibility and personal initiative. Ammar, I like your phrase that what is needed is to start “democratization” which is to be distinguished from a “democracy” but I still raise the question : Could a democratizing process , applied to a social structure that is not ready for it, lead to an outcome that is equally illebral and undemocratic as the regime that it has replaced? Or could we posit that “democratization” will always result in an environment that is superior to that which it has replaced? I believe that many of us assume that it is the latter. Are we right though?

  4. Indeed, we are in agreement Ghassan. I have my own apprehensions here, and not a single certainty. There are no guarantees here. We just have to plod on, muddle through, and be willing to be lucky.

  5. “The VP bombshell will definitely overshadow what I was planning to do by way of ending this year. “Ammar, I don’t see a regime change in Syria. I only see a potential internal coup. Maybe that they will be more open-minded about reforms, especially since it will be a western supported coup. But Khaddam is Khaddam and his past speaks for him. It will be other people running the same system.

  6. Indeed, the term being floated at this stage is that of Bashar-led corrective movement against the last vestiges of the Old Guard. Guess what, a lot of people in the internal opposition will be banking on that. The old line that Bashar had his hands tied by the Old Guard will be reiterated to buy him more time. This means, however, that he now has to deliver on popular expectations for reform. There will be a few seemingly dramatic gestures on the short run, but they will fizzle out within months. Reform is impossible under this system. On the short run, those who will read too much into the Khaddam thing will be disappointed, on the longer run, those who will read too much into the regime’s reform efforts will be more than just disappointed,, they will be betrayed, again.

  7. Ammar, the fact that Khaddam is a Sunni and is “snitching” on the Alawite regime in Dasmascus signal that he maybe somewhat in bed with the Saudis since the Saudis have been furious at Assad for killing their man (Hariri) who was also a Sunni. Do you also think that Khaddam is under heavy protection from French security services since it is well known that Chirac has had it out for Assad since Hariri was a close friend of his.

  8. This whole thing, on one level, is nothing but a play of the usual regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Sunni-Shia (Alawi) Divide is a very serious issue in this. After Khaddam, the Kanaan Children could come next, if they can smuggle the rest of them out that is. I am not sure about Shihabi. But he is a possibility as well.

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