April 25, 2005


Syria's Ba'athists loosen the reins (Sami Moubayed, 4/26/05, Asia Times)

A new Ba'ath Party law is to be created in Syria, breaking the socialist parties' monopoly over politics in that country, in place (with the exception of the years 1961-63) since 1958. The move is a calculated gamble on the part of the government, and will also challenge a US bill against Syria calling for "Assistance to Support a Transition to Democracy in Syria." [...]

The question that many are asking: "Why now?" Why has the Syrian government decided to create a multiparty system which might challenge the power of the Ba'athists? Contrary to what many believe, the Ba'ath Party is very strong in Syria, and has a lot of active supporters. Changing the views of a society indoctrinated with Ba'athist views since 1963 will not be easy. The masses, who generally lack a proper democratic culture, will not readily join other political parties, especially ones that challenge Ba'athist ideology.

This is the exact reason. The state is confident enough that no real threat will be presented to its power if a multi-party system emerges in Syria. Let the parties operate, and let them win parliamentary seats. The ruling party of the state and society will still be the Ba'ath Party, since amending Article 8 of the constitution, which gives it that leadership status, will not be discussed at the upcoming conference. A multi-party system will threaten nobody, and yet be greatly welcomed by the Syrian masses, who are demanding such a kind of political reform in Syria.

The Syrian masses will be pleased, and the Syrian government will get good public relations credit for it. It will also challenge a US bill against Syria, presented on March 8 in the House of Representatives, calling for "Assistance to Support a Transition to Democracy in Syria". It reads: "The president is authorized to provide assistance and other support for individuals and independent non-governmental organizations to support transition to a freely elected, internationally recognized democratic government in Syria."

The message from the public and government alike in Damascus is clear: there is no need for US help, the Syrians will democratize on their own, at will.

Mikhail Gorbachev likewise understood that after 70 years of Bolshevik rule and indoctrination the party was so powerful and popular that the Russian people would choose to be governed by it if given the opportunity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2005 8:25 AM

And 15 years later, he might be right.

The devil you know.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 25, 2005 12:51 PM