The Chicken Revolution!

Did I say a while ago that the best option for Syria will be to work out a Jasmine Revolution? Sorry, I actually meant a Chicken Revolution. To judge by the way things are going at this stage, it is really a mini revolution still, but it might just be the spark that can begin it all.

I am talking about the few hundreds Syrian workers affiliated with the poultry industry in Syria who have staged a protest demonstration against the Syrian government. Yes, you heard it, a protest demonstration, in Damascus, hundreds of people carrying banners in front of PM office, protesting against government neglect of their plight.

For it seems that the authorities large-scale culling policies meant as a preemptive move to contain Bird Flu, coupled with popular boycott of poultry and poultry products, have hit hard against the interests of the over 2 million Syrians who work in the industry. And the government, it seems, was doing nothing to ease their suffering. Surprise, surprise.

Well, what’s so surprising really, at least for some, was that when people actually saw their livelihood threatened, they broke the barrier of fear and took to the street, albeit in a very civil manner, so far.

Let’s see if how our inept authorities will handle this situation. If they screwed things up, as they usually do, a lot more people have a lot more reasons to take to the streets as well, and they might just up the ante, and there a million ways how they could do that, and thanks to satellite TV, they are not exactly totally uninformed about this. And people can actually be quite creative when they finally break through the barrier of fear. And they tend to develop their own organizational structures, ones which can be quite independent of any existing opposition or civil society movements and parties.

No, things may not happen so quickly, but this might just be the beginning.

And to think that only yesterday, literally, I blogged about possibility of bread riots and the danger this can pose to the regime. I do feel vindicated somehow.

But again, I remind, myself and others, that things might still take more time than we like, and they might even take a nasty turn at any given moment, spiraling out of control or leading to major and brutal government crackdown.

Still, those taciturn comatosed Syrian masses might just be waking up, finally. Oh boy.

Coupled with increasing pressures from the US, this could usher in a new set of dynamics onto an esrswhile quite a stale and uninspiring scene.

7 thoughts on “The Chicken Revolution!

  1. If MEMRI (Special Dispatch 1094) and Deborah Lipstadthttp://lipstadt.blogspot.com/2006/02/syrias-latest-accusation-israel.htmlare right, bird flu is causing an interesting, if unpleasant side effect in Syria, raging paranoia — claiming it is an Israeli biological weapon. I am not able to check down the original article, nor could I read it if I were, but I was wondering if you can and if so what comment you would wish to make.

  2. Its funny you bring up bread riots, when reading that line I immediately thought of the long bread lines in the last days of the USSR. But what is the possibility that we will see that in Damascus.

  3. OK, I hope you’re right in this, but a couple of thoughts from someone very far from the situation.Why is there a popular boycott of the poultry industry? Is it just a response to H5N1, or is it something else I haven’t heard of?18 million people live in Syria, and 2 million work in the poultry industry? Wow.

  4. Jim, these kind of reports are all too common in our press, sorry to say. KD, economic conditions are getting tougher and tougher by the day for many people in Syria where more than 40% live under the poverty line, according to the recent statistics supplied by the government itself.Ainta, 2 million is the number provided by the report I read. In a country where the majority of the people work in farming and related services, the number may not too far fetched, still, I cannot verify the accuracy of this figure at this stage.

  5. Amar, I don’t disbelieve the number, it just took me by surprise. It speaks to the poverty – if there are that many people working with chickens, most are working with very, very small numbers – back yard flocks.It also suggests that revolution may be harder – you have to have spare time to revolt. If you’re just barely avoiding starvation, you don’t have the extra time. If poverty caused revolution, Kim Jong Ill and Castro wouldn’t still in power.

  6. You make an excellent point Ainta. “Lucky” for us, we also have a 40% joblessness rate with most of the jobless being young men in their early 20s. I am not suggesting that these people are sitting around and doing nothing, and that they are not doing odd jobs here and there to make a living, thus confirming your point. Still, there are plenty of young people with little to do at any given moment to fuel a revolution, peaceful or otherwise. I hope despairingly for the former, and have a plenty of reasons to expect and fear the latter.

  7. (Sarcastic)Since Syrian laborers are having a hard time with Lebanon, you think they could get some work in Tehran.

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