There are two kinds of Syrian experts, the “to be” experts who follow Syria closely, almost 24/7 and the “to bee” ones whose limited knowledge can be detected right away.

The “to be” experts know the regime, Syria’s people, its opposition, culture, and political landscape. They immersed themselves for years studying facts and figures. Their expertise did not come from preferential treatment or some historical accident but rather by using their intellect to deeply reflect upon a society and its people.

Those experts like David Schenker and Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute, Prof. Barry Rubin and Prof. Eyal Zisser in Israel can be trusted with their analysis, knowledge, writings, and predictions.

Then, there are the “to bee” experts who fly between action and along the way show how little they know about their subject matter.

Michael Rubin, one of those “to bee” experts on Syria working as a scholar at the well-respected American Enterprise Institute, recently quoted one of my old articles in the Middle East Quarterly in which I lay the foundation for support for four liberal and secular democracy forums in Syria.

Of course, I still stand by my article, give or take its 90% accuracy considering recent events.

What happened since my piece was published is the fact that one of those forums carrying the name of a very prominent Syrian family and whose history is synonymous with exposing oppression since the 1920’s has turned on its own people by siding with Assad.

Its young patriarch has become an associate of Rami Makhluf in Aleppo and his little sister is serving as the personal assistant of a Syrian Ambassador in a western capital. As a result, the Syrian people will find it hard to accept this forum because of the family’s name ties to the regime today.

Only a “to be” expert on Syria would capture that knowledge and predict the outcome it may produce. And knowledge about Syria is a moving target; one cannot quote from its history.

To be or not to bee

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2 Comments

  1. canadiansyrian
    August 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm — Reply

    you forgot Joshoa Landis.
    Now , he is an American SHABBIH . do you think he will ever jump ship like Patrick Seals ?
    and like rubin too.

    • August 21, 2011 at 10:40 am — Reply

      Joshua is “married” to the regime. But we keep our fingers crossed nonetheless because it would be good for Syria to have him speak for freedom and democracy.
      As far as Rubin, I do not think he jumped ship but I am a strong believer in experts sticking to their expertise. When you jump around, you’re bound to repeat what others say instead of formulating your distinct opinions from first-hand knowledge.

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