Democracy for Syria, Still?

In a globalized world where we continuously watch on television, hear on radio and read in the papers about social movements around the world pushing governments to move towards democracy, the world’s most ‘powerful’ country that encourages and probably supports these social movements for governmental change has experienced a government shutdown.

It’s ironic because the worlds’ most ‘powerful’ country also happens to not be in the Top 10 democratic countries in the world, ranking 21st behind Uruguay, Mauritius and South Korea. Having military muscle and ‘intelligent’ capabilities to make governmental changes around the world, the United States of America now faces a hard time trying to convince me at the very least, that democracy is the most preferred type of governance (I’m sure there would be others who feel/think the same way too).

One of the most startling and interesting things that have happened since they went into a shutdown, the topic of Syria’s possession of chemical weapons seems to have dissipated into thin air. This could probably be because domestically, the US has so much to resolve within themselves that it’s not just worth it to look at other issues, and rightly so too (in Singapore, we call this, don’t be ‘kaypoh’. If you’re a Malay, the proverb is, ‘jangan jaga tepi kain orang’. Both of which means, to not be a busybody and to focus only on your issues).

So, what then happened to Syria?

With a little bit of surfing around looking at the issues which caused the conflict we hear of today, I would describe the cause of the conflict as a series of events which built itself up. Pretty much like someone who keeps everything to himself, preferring not to resolve the smaller issues and then immediately blows up when an inevitable trigger occurred. 

What do I mean by a series of events?

The story we keep hearing repeatedly about the cause of the conflict is the story which happened in Daraa in March 2011. A group of teens and children were arrested for writing political graffiti and dozens of people were killed when demonstrations were cracked down by security forces.

Save Syria

Save Syria

BUT this story cannot be the cause of the conflict we observe and hear of today because this story is the result of something else. The teens and children wouldn’t have been motivated to have taken such action had there been no basis for it. So, what was the basis for it then?

Here’s what I think what the basis for it was:

  1. 48-years being in a state of emergency meant that people never had that much freedom to express themselves freely. This caused many issues. (Now, the 48 years of being in a state of emergency is the result of something else which stretches waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in time which I would point to the secret agreement that who else but the British made with France)
  2. Before being in a state of emergency, there were other conflicts which had happened and I do suppose that because these issues were never resolved, it kept brewing all the time through the generations because you inherit your parents’ history much like the holocaust. It may have happened so long ago but people who live today, who may not have been directly affected by it would still talk and express their feelings about it as if they were involved in it because of generational ties.
  3. Aside from the state of emergency and the conflicts between the different tribes who are not happy with the ruling elite (Alawis), the poor were also facing an agricultural issue which was not resolved or attended to. Not that anything could be done about the climate, but having faced a 5 year drought from 2006 – 2011 and not being able to have access to necessities essential for survival; food and water, the government was probably not doing enough either. If farmers can no longer farm because land was no longer suitable for cultivating crops, migration occurs. 
  4. Bashar Al-Assad’s policies.
  5. I’m trying to remember correctly but if I’m not mistakened, Bashar made many bad calls and one of which was he sold a stockpile of wheat. This occurred before the drought. With no stockpile, then the drought occurred and inability to receive assistance as per recommendations made by the United Nations, some form of chaos would be expected.

So, there you go!

The political graffiti was a result of points 1 – 5 and the rest is as per the narratives we have all heard and read about.

In ending, I would just like to state that whilst much of the world hears A LOT about what it means to be in a democratic state, I really do believe that there perhaps democratic state envisioned and espoused by much of the western world may not be applicable to other parts of the world because of the different challenges in terms of the history and the pre-existing conflicts in that country.

Whatever the type of governance may be, what is most important should be citizens should be given rights to choose who they believe their leader should be and the leader should be someone who’d be able to be just in executing his/her duties and be a good strategist and visionary to ensure that the country will be well-prepared for the expected and the unexpected. AND power should only remain in the leader(s) for as long as the people continue to believe their views are heard and efforts are made to ensure that the ability to survive and a relatively comfortable life is assured.

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