Washington DC – December 24, 2009 – (Farid Ghadry Blog) — Consider this small inconsistency. Syria is run by an illegitimate secular regime yet it supports extreme religious organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. So how do the secular women of Syria, who support the Assad regime, feel about Hamas oppressing their women?
This is but one example of living paradoxically in Syria today. For many Syrians, balancing odd policies under Assad, against coherence and reason, has stretched them in every direction. Some brush away the conflicts out of fear, but to the few I talk to, who support the regime in general, they are beginning to question this new Syria that defies logic. On this particular question, some even are surprised about the silence of Asma al-Assad, a liberal, emancipated Sunni Muslim herself, for accepting blindly that the men running Hamas, with her husband’s protection in Damascus, treat their women in such manner.
In retrospect, the regime’s surreal ideological commitments happen mostly in a vacuum. If Asma is not consulted, the public is neither consulted nor acknowledged when far reaching decisions affecting the whole society are adjudicated for the survival of the few. But by also ignoring its own base, the political elite is risking damage to its eagles’ nest, today perched high and predator-safe, through cannibalism.
From a practical point of view, some Syrian youths do see these odd circus balancing acts as an anomaly but they also see it as mean to an end. However, since the regime’s top echelon needs more ideologues than realists to weather any political storm, it seems oblivious to the cauldron beneath its feet. I suspect mostly out of ignorance and incompetence.
From the wisdom of Khalid Gibran comes this quote: “If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?” It seems to me that the hearts of Syria’s youth today, those against or for, is a bloomless volcano. But even more important, can it erupt anytime soon?
One of the least understood aspect of an authoritarian regime is its total reliance on fear to marshal the troops. In Assad’s world, the volcano needs not to bloom. But fear alone, spread as a blanket, is also a liability when the regime turns inward for execution of a policy. For sure, marchers will march and protestors will protest. But what happens after is left to chance because when fear confronts the heart of an ideologue and the heart wins out, a permutation develops amongst our youth that turns a loyalist into a questioner. From speaking to some, I sense there is a slight and optimistic shift happening today in Syria to Assad supporters.
One even explained that the more they see Assad in public, through a surprise appearance at a theater or a restaurant, the more their fear of the regime diminishes. They think to themselves: Man, he goes to the bathroom just like I do. Encouraging, to say the least, for me to hear the more affluent young Syrians, born into a slightly better economic climate than their parents under Hafez al-Assad, express themselves so intelligently.
But of all the young Syrians I talk to, none is more interesting than the young Alawites of Syria. Their parents had this stigma concentrated in their sense of guilt of what could happen if the Alawite regime of Assad falls apart and all Alawites are branded and persecuted for the crimes of one family. Incidentally, those fears kept most of them towing the official line even though, some with unlimited courage, like Aref Dalilah, spoke against corruption and economic deprivation and paid a heavy price for their temerity.
But today’s young Alawites, freer of spirit and mind, remind me of another generation in South Africa during the seventies. Many are harboring disenchantment in how the regime treats Syrians in general, like the Kurd minority, and there appears to be no stigma of what could or might happen. Their confidence in their Syrian identity has, to the delight of a liberal mind, freed them from the angst of their older generation. Encouraging indeed.
The struggle Syrian youth is experiencing today is heartwarming to every Syrian intent on building a strong nation able to confront its problems. For us, Syrian-Americans with a twin vision of a safe America and a peaceful Syria, it delights us, during this Christmas season, to see that the regime cannot last forever and no Syrian is willing to endure the insult of having Baschar al-Assad win 96.7% of Syrian votes again.