Why don’t they see democracy as an alternative for Assad? - YASIN AKTAY

Why don’t they see democracy as an alternative for Assad?

It has been 4 years since the revolutionary period in Syria began. This period actually began not as revolution, but a way to expand the freedoms a little more and a way for a regime that would rule more humane. That is why just like in all of the other Arab Spring countries the first slogans that were seen were not “bring down the rule” but rather the demand for the reform of the rule.

If Assad and his regime acted just a little more cautiously while the situation was at this stage, they could have easily avoided these issues before the demonstrations turned into a larger problem. After what was said and done, even after all of the revolutionary periods in the Arab Spring, the people were still not even demanding a change in the regime of Syria. However the regime suddenly was struck by fear of what was being lived in the Arab spring would happen in their own country. In order to dissipate this danger, Assad took the easiest path that came to mind. He once again chose a road that he had already went down and had a forgone conclusion. In order to set an example and strike fear in the hearts, he murdered quite a few people.

Before in 1982, he oppressed the people after a mass rebellion in the city of Hama by mass murdering over 30,000 people. He was going to save his regime and ultimately do the same thing over again with mass murder on a small scale. However this time, the situation was not the same as the 80s. After every massacre, the public’s disapproval reached higher grounds. In retaliation, the Assad and Ba’ath regime widely radicalized and broadened the opposition, probably without actually wanting to.

The point we are at today, leaves us with a dictator who is fighting to remain standing by waging war with his own people and has left 400,000 dead. Over 10 million people have been left without a home and have been displaced from their country. The country that has been destroyed and a large majority of it is now out of his control.

It was being estimated that Assad would not be able to last long in this period. Initially it was supposed that everyone, besides Iran and Russia, was looking forward to and wanted Assad's departure. All of the statements were in this direction. However from the moment his fall became almost ordained, an interesting shield started to form around Assad that did not just consist of Iran and Russia. One side of this shield was being held by European countries, the U.S. and Israel and the other side was being held by Gulf countries, with their strange choice and imposition. Initially saying that Assad must go, the U.S. suddenly changed its tune by stating that there isn’t an alternative for Assad.

This matter has become very strange at this point in time, this might be the main reason for every radicalization and the reason Daesh, or ISIL, has surfaced. Today the U.S. sees Daesh as the primary problem; however, it really is strange that the U.S. has not seen that the only reason Daesh surfaced was because of their hesitation on Assad’s departure. They are leaving the Syrian people face to face with Daesh and an environment of never ending civil war by rejecting Daesh as an alternative for Assad.

They are saying that there is no alternative for Assad. On Friday during a speech he gave in front of the National Syrian Coalition and the interim government, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu pointed quite clearly to an alternative: “The alternative for Assad in Syria is democracy.” 

Is this alternative that Davutoglu pointed out so hard to think of? Some powers in the region who cannot comprehend democracy might not accept this alternative right away, but why can’t the U.S. or the EU countries somehow see democracy as an alternative for Assad? 

It seems that they will never see the Syrian public as worthy of a democracy. Just as they did not see democracy worthy for other Arab Spring countries, they do not see fit democracy for the Syrian people. Democracy is definitely good for the Syrian people, but who is thinking about the good of the Syrian people? For them, the situation of the dead in Syria has still not struck a chord in the heart in order for them to be affected. They are waiting for the next new dictator to come, not listen to their words and not hold true to their promises. 

To be clear, the alternative they see fit for Assad in Syria is, after all, no different than Assad himself. They are looking for another bolt from the blue, another dictator that is qualified to oppress the people with the power of the opposition. It is because they are looking for such a person that they cannot find someone better than Assad. Daesh is answering their call for help, and as the only alternative that is visible, they are starting to see Assad as tolerable. This is showing us another piece of reality on why democracy in the Middle East is not progressing.


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