Crisis of the Syrian revolution

 04 Apr 2013 - 6:11

Some members of the Alawite sect a few days ago decided to distance themselves from the regime that has been ruling in their name, a short time after the regime’s crackdown on the Syrian uprising entered its third year, with the death of 70,000 people and forced migration of millions of Syrians. 

Questions about the differences between the Syrian and French revolutions arise now. The French revolution achieved success because both the peasants and the bourgeois were fighting a common enemy. In the case of the Syrian revolution, however, the revolutionaries are the common enemy of both the regime and the bourgeois. This is the first major difference between the French revolution and the Syrian revolution. This difference makes the case for the Syrian revolution more complicated and difficult. This is how Syrian political researcher Munzer Eid Alzamalkani puts it. 

Adding to the complexity of the Syrian revolution – apart from the excessive force used by the regime to suppress it – are the conflicting interests of the ethnic groups that make up the Syrian society as well as those of Syria’s neighbouring countries, chiefly Lebanon, and also conflicting regional and international interests.

In his book, Damascus Notables and the Obstruction of Secularism in Syria, Palestinian writer Saqr Abu Fakhr says that the triangle of landowners, traders, and men of religion, three categories of people who are Syria’s notables, one of the last category being Mohamed Al Bouti, who was killed in an explosion, had obstructed progress in Syria because of their conservative nature.

Abu Fakhr concludes in his book that this was probably the hidden force behind the rise of the contemporary authoritarian state in Syria.

By the same token, authoritarianism or despotism was not an option for either the ruler or the ruling elite. It was rather the indirect result of the domination of the notables over politics and wealth in the capital. This did not happen only in Syria, but also across all the other countries of the Levant. 

The future is both uncertain and obscure. The dominant social system in Syria nourished sectarianism and class divisions for decades. This is why a sectarian and tribal dimension is as clear as the light of day in the Syrian revolution. This dimension has evolved into a process of score settling among the various religious and ethnic groups of the Syrian society. 

This state of affairs might continue to persist even after the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his coterie. The future of Alawites is strongly linked to the future of the regime in Syria. The Druze might want to have autonomy. Kurds might seek separation and self-rule. As for Christians, they might decide to leave Syria altogether. 

The crisis of the Syrian revolution is that there are so many small states inside the larger Syrian state. The scenario of Damascus can repeat itself anywhere else. Lebanon is not far from Syria. Other Arab countries are not far from Syria’s borders, either.

 

Some members of the Alawite sect a few days ago decided to distance themselves from the regime that has been ruling in their name, a short time after the regime’s crackdown on the Syrian uprising entered its third year, with the death of 70,000 people and forced migration of millions of Syrians. 

Questions about the differences between the Syrian and French revolutions arise now. The French revolution achieved success because both the peasants and the bourgeois were fighting a common enemy. In the case of the Syrian revolution, however, the revolutionaries are the common enemy of both the regime and the bourgeois. This is the first major difference between the French revolution and the Syrian revolution. This difference makes the case for the Syrian revolution more complicated and difficult. This is how Syrian political researcher Munzer Eid Alzamalkani puts it. 

Adding to the complexity of the Syrian revolution – apart from the excessive force used by the regime to suppress it – are the conflicting interests of the ethnic groups that make up the Syrian society as well as those of Syria’s neighbouring countries, chiefly Lebanon, and also conflicting regional and international interests.

In his book, Damascus Notables and the Obstruction of Secularism in Syria, Palestinian writer Saqr Abu Fakhr says that the triangle of landowners, traders, and men of religion, three categories of people who are Syria’s notables, one of the last category being Mohamed Al Bouti, who was killed in an explosion, had obstructed progress in Syria because of their conservative nature.

Abu Fakhr concludes in his book that this was probably the hidden force behind the rise of the contemporary authoritarian state in Syria.

By the same token, authoritarianism or despotism was not an option for either the ruler or the ruling elite. It was rather the indirect result of the domination of the notables over politics and wealth in the capital. This did not happen only in Syria, but also across all the other countries of the Levant. 

The future is both uncertain and obscure. The dominant social system in Syria nourished sectarianism and class divisions for decades. This is why a sectarian and tribal dimension is as clear as the light of day in the Syrian revolution. This dimension has evolved into a process of score settling among the various religious and ethnic groups of the Syrian society. 

This state of affairs might continue to persist even after the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his coterie. The future of Alawites is strongly linked to the future of the regime in Syria. The Druze might want to have autonomy. Kurds might seek separation and self-rule. As for Christians, they might decide to leave Syria altogether. 

The crisis of the Syrian revolution is that there are so many small states inside the larger Syrian state. The scenario of Damascus can repeat itself anywhere else. Lebanon is not far from Syria. Other Arab countries are not far from Syria’s borders, either.