Sunday, March 06, 2011

Countering Assad: Syria’s Love Revolution

Op-ed: Syria uprising to be led by women unable to find economically independent husbands

Farid Ghadry
Israel Opinion

Do you think Syrians would accept that every other Arab country embraces freedom and democracy and we would continue embracing the tyranny of Assad? The world better prepare for that day of reckoning and no higher power, no matter how determined, will be able to stop us. This is our country, these are our people, and it is about our dignity.

Bashar al-Assad told the Wall Street Journal he is immune to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt. Just one fact should throw some doubt upon this claim of his. Every year, over 150,000 young Syrians from a graduating class of 300,000 begin their hopeless journey under a regime more interested in designing suicide car bombs, plotting the occupation of other countries, supporting terrorist organizations of all creeds and affiliations, and staying afloat through sheer terror and violence than to provide any comfort for their people. The coming Syrian revolution will be led by two million young Syrian women unable to find economically independent husbands and forced to embrace celibacy (Ansa'a) because of rampant unemployment and economic deprivation; in our culture, buying a sheltering home, offering one's bride a token of gold, and providing for your family at least one weekly meal with meat are essential to the stability of our Syrian society.

What do you think these young women will do when they find out that Assad has pilfered more than $40 billion from the Syrian treasury while their future husbands walk endlessly the streets of our cities? Syrian young women already know about the tens of billions pilfered by Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt, they are trading stories as I write this article. They will be an essential component in the coming revolution and this is why Asma al-Assad chairs a women's organization in Syria whose real purpose is to gauge their anger.

An impromptu large demonstration was sparked recently in Damascus over the beating of a young man by four policemen and the video shows clearly that the crowd refused to turn it into an Assad propaganda demonstration. The next one will be sparked by a young woman committing suicide because she cannot marry the man she loves. It is not a color or a flower; ours will be the Love Revolution.

But hardened policy makers and analysts around the world keep producing articles and speeches to sway and deflect from the deficiencies of the Assad regime and strike fear in our hearts that the Islamists are coming. We were told a similar tale in Egypt. It turned out that there is a template after all for a peaceful transition from tyranny to democracy, one that RPS has called for repeatedly over the last seven years. In fact, one of the subjects I personally discussed at the Knesset in June of 2007 revolved around a formula of transition that would protect Syria from harm by providing the layers below Assad the opportunity to transition the country while it protects all Syrians from violence and more importantly from the Islamists ever hijacking a nascent democracy.

The formula was rejected by some and intrigued others. The year 2007 is not 2011 and it behooves us today to re-open that file instead of waiting for Jimmy Carter and John Kerry, in their zest to pursue peace at any cost, to impose upon the region an order that would perpetually subject the women of Syria to the prisons of the Islamists and more importantly to another Gaza in the Golan Heights. These Arab Revolutions are crying out "This is not about religion but about freedom and human rights", yet some still find ways to inject the Muslim Brotherhood on the basis of faulty analysis.

Say no to peace with Assad

There is nothing in common between the gray-haired, bearded men screaming for Israel's destruction and the young Arab man on the street screaming for economic justice and equality and the Islamist formula, which has tested badly in many parts of the world, will certainly not sway our youths from their determination to sing Britney Spears, watch Hollywood on-demand movies, and marry on their own terms.

Organized they are, but popular they are not. These Arab revolutions are not about the Palestinians, land swaps, peace, Jerusalem, settlements, or even water. It's about our freedom, our dignity, and our future. The dictators kept pointing to Jerusalem but the youths in the Arab world kept pointing to the food on their tables. Who would have thought Jerusalem would cause the downfall of tyrants?

Peace is magical but selling a signed document with a dictator as peace is unconscionable. The peace Israelis want and we Syrians need can only happen if we agree to it in a train station already linking Damascus to Jerusalem. No paper, no ceremony, and no intent will bring glory to those in pursuit of peace unless its purpose is perpetually guaranteed by mechanisms supported by democratic institutions. Real peace can only happen between two free peoples, equally motivated by their economic and social needs. Democracy in Syria is the path to real peace.

Arab and Farsi dissidents seeking freedom, democracy, human rights and the respect of the law in their own countries were called dreamers. With these revolutions, it turned out we are the realists. We know the root cause of the ills of our societies and they are certainly not resolved by sending a US ambassador

to Damascus to legitimize terror and oppression against our people, or by seeking peace with our violent dictator, or by empowering Islamists as some US senators are doing. In light of what is going on today, how unwise are these decisions?

A free and democratic Syria is the antidote to the violence Assad has been procreating and will continue to procreate for generations to come. The opportunity is here, the tide is on the right side of history; let us both not waste it again by fantasizing over peace with Assad.

Farid Ghadry is the President of the Reform Party of Syria. He can be followed on Twitter

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