“FM Jonas Gahr Støre is buying the whitewash of Syrian president Assad. This will not make this rotten system edible”.
The dramatic events that have taken place on the Syrian scene in recent months and weeks, raises a question whose answer is essential for the political choice of route in the country: Can a hereditary dictatorship be “reoriented”, and a rigid autocratic system, switched on to a democratic track?
The massive and long-term popular resistance suggests that the few, who until recently had adorned themselves with patience and dreamed of seeing the flowers of the Damascus Spring, the president’s beautiful promises from 2000, now have been brought to a grim reality.
News about the isolated towns without electricity and water supply, telephone and Internet connection, and the critical shortage of food supplies, has been heard from several sources. The military operations against the civilian population has claimed many victims, an estimated 2,000 civilians, but have persisted, despite the clear and broad international and regional condemnation.
The government sticks stubbornly to its explanation, most recently repeated by the ambassador to Sweden, Milad Atieh, 18 August: No civilian casualties. The killed Syrians belong to criminal gangs and terrorist networks. These criminals, they claim, are supposed to have robbed a large military base, and thus have come into possession of both weapons and military uniforms.
It is highly unlikely that this alleged robbery has provided the “criminal gangs” the military capacity described in Svenska Dagbladet, 17 August. The newspaper reports on dozens of armored vehicles and thousands of soldiers, assisted by plain-clothed and armed security forces, has combed the streets and carried out arbitrary arrests in the towns of Deir al-Zor in the northeast, Homs and Hama in central Syria and Latakia in the west.
The day before brought the same newspaper a grotesque story about the interrogation center 235 (Read: Torture Department). Graffiti on a gray call wall: “Dear God, let me die.”
This regime, which is responsible for these and many more crimes, has nonetheless made a new promise of a new spring – a new proposal, composed of 71 sections. A political document that allows for the formation of political parties, extending voting rights to include illiterate, blind and disabled and allow “foreigners in the north” (Syrian Kurds) to stand for election. One thing is that this invitation to participate in political life are accompanied by many restrictions. But the most interesting is that the eighth clause of the Constitution of 1972 is rock solid. Thus continues the Baath Party in the role as “the leading party of the society and state” and will be responsible for leading a “National Progressive Front”, which means, leading the other political parties.
The spark that was lit in March has not been stifled by state terror. The Syrian people have long realized that the country has no future under the same political leadership. Therefore, the Norwegian foreign policy choice, not to accede to the demand of President Assad departure, is saddening. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store (AP) defends this choice that there is no ” ready-option to take over.”
Dictatorships are usually not organized in such a way that opposition leaders are ready to take over power. This obvious fact has greatly influenced the United States and leading EU states’ policies with regards to Syria. Foreign Minister Støre however, prefers to buy the whitewash offered by Assad.