Unrest in Syria

Civil unrest is mounting in Syria with each passing day. At least 37 people were killed on Wednesday by the shelling of the security forces in Hama, the centre of tension in Syria. Condemning the deadly crackdown for the first time, the UN Security Council issued a warning that those responsible should be held accountable. The White House continues to foresee Syria as a ‘better place’ without President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has been a one party state since 1963 when the Baath Party ceased power. President Bashar al-Assad who took over the reins of power from his father, has maintained the status quo. Since March 15, the streets of Syria have been witnessing pro-reform protests. In an effort to keep their hold intact, the Syrian authorities have resorted to military action against the protestors, claiming 1,600 lives so far.

Under immense local and international pressure, the embattled Syrian President has made several offers to the dissidents, including a decree he issued on Thursday allowing opposition political parties to be set up. In April, President Assad lifted the five decades-old emergency rule imposed in 1963 as the country had been declared in a state of war against Israel. He also abolished the notorious state security courts. In June, he invited the dissidents to hold talks to discuss the pattern of reforms, paving the way for the introduction of a new constitution and even ending the Baath party’s monopoly on power. President Assad seems to have realised that the time for introducing reforms has come. He, however, has refused to reform Syria under ‘chaos’ as he smells the involvement of a foreign hand in the crisis.

At present, there is a wave of mass uprisings against the established governments in the Middle East countries. But the situation in Syria should not be seen in the same perspective, as it has been a consistent anti-imperialist state. The US and western countries consider President Assad’s regime as a dictatorship and want the UN to take strong action against the Syrian authorities. Syria is one of the two countries in the Arab world along with Libya that have stood firm against imperialism.

Syria seems to be faced with greater challenges. The decades-long one party rule did not let dissenting voices organise themselves under the flags of different parties. Due to lack of political organisation among the protestors, the Syrian government’s offers are not helping quell the protests. The brutal crackdown of the Syrian army on the protestors continues. The situation is alarming. There might be a foreign military intervention in Syria, as has happened in Libya. The people of Syria should not put their sovereignty at stake by allowing foreign interference in their affairs at any cost. Only talks in a peaceful environment can win them democracy as their system of governance. – Dailytimes