Eventually Syria has decided to attend the US-hosted Middle-East peace conference in Annapolis
Eventually Syria has decided to attend the US-hosted Middle-East peace conference in Annapolis.
Syrian government announced that Syria agreed to attend because there would be discussions on reviving Israel-Syria peace moves, which will be centralized on the Golan Heights case.
This policy has interpreted as a new policy of Syria towards Middle East peace. It means Syria has been accepted to participate in the peace conference with US leadership and has tried to come out of its isolation position amongst the Arab countries. Although, this policy of Syria is known as a new policy of Bashar Al –Asad, but president of Syria has following this policy from the beginning of his presidential period.
Basher Al – Asad with his pragmatic manner has tried to change the situation of Syria and Because of his policy that differs from his father’s policy, from the beginning some reports described him as “not as strong and autocratic as his father”. In fact, it seems that he belongs to new type of leaders of the Arab countries that look for the possibilities to reach a modern society. Thus, when Bashar came to power, it seemed that he was ready to move along two tracks: introducing changes inside Syria and at the same time improving Syria’s relations with the outside world.
Internally, Syria is divided according to religion into groups. Majority is the Sunni in the country. The rest of the people are Alawite. It was a fact that Bashar must not destroy the basis for his power, which are his father’s closest allies and the Alawite society. But he has learned that, this is probably the major impediment to a democratization of Syrian politics and economics.
Therefore, this young president, Western-educated, initiated a process of reform after two decades of basically stagnation in the political and economic arenas.
Thus, during his hardworking to reform his country and to make it democratic-oriented, he allowed many people, who were prevented in the last regime, to express their opinions and ideas towards his new regime. As a result the country witnessed many parties and many people who found a suitable environment to say what they feel in present.
Therefore “Damascus Spring” was one of the first opinions that had been created by political thinkers in Syria. The "Damascus Spring," a 2001 pro-reform movement that saw a blossoming of media freedom and public discourse, opened Syria’s doors to political opposition and dissent.
Basher has released hundreds of political prisoners and allowed the first independent newspaper for more than three decades to begin publishing. For a while, the authorities also allowed a group of intellectuals pressing for democratic reforms to hold political meetings. Bashar also was quite effective in removing old officers from the ranks in the Syrian army.
But Baath party knew very well that any meaningful reform would undermine Bashar grip on power.
Ba’ath party felt that it will lose power, therefore as one of the powerful members of Baath party announced that ’we are not going to let Syria become like Algeria, and we have to stop this’. Thus, reform prevented.
Now most analysts agree that Syria’s domestic opposition movement has been so weakened that it cannot challenge the government’s control over political activity and the media.
Also, Bashar al-Assad was the driving force in bringing the internet to Syria. But, there are now only two government-run internet cafes in Damascus. But there are still controls on what sites Syrians can access. They control that and in response, they say: "This is an Israel site. So it’s blocked, because it’s an enemy site. Some sexual sites are blocked because we are Islamic country, and of course the sites which talk about us in a wrong way, we have many sites like that".
The younger Assad wanted to break with his father’s regime, and he could do so improvement but he was not successful to changed Ba’ath Party ideology. In fact, since he assumed office in 2000, Syrian President has struggled to redefine the role of the Baath Party. The tenets of Ba’athism -- freedom, unity, and socialism -- have become obsolete since the party seized power in the 1960s. At that time, Baath ideologues attacked bourgeois democracy, envisaging themselves as a vanguard party to lead society and limit the political freedom of the bourgeoisie. Baath discourse was based on the Marxist concept of popular struggle. This radical outlook was expunged by Syria’s former president, Hafiz al-Asad, who favored Arab cooperation in the interest of confronting Israel and anti US.
But Asad does not his father policy; he hoped to use the party as a vehicle for rallying broad public support for his policies. In this respect, Asad is trying to create a pluralistic nationalist political front that can satisfy some demands for political and economic reform in side and change of foreign policy also without endangering his rule.
Thus, he hopes to prevent the creation of U.S relations opposition. In fact, after the September 11 attacks, the United States increased its pressure on Syria to separate from the remaining members of the “axis of evil”: Iran, with its protégé Hezbollah, and North Korea. On one hand, Damascus took steps to avoid a direct confrontation with Washington. To that end, it was prepared to cooperate with the United States in its struggle against Al Qaeda. Indeed, U.S. agents arrived in Syria early in 2002 to investigate these possibilities. Syria arrested one of Al Qaeda members and The United States was grateful to the Syrians for this assistance, and Bush telephoned Bashar to thank him. But ,Ba’ath party Continued to adhere to a nationalist, pan-Arab, anti-U.S., and anti-Western world-view and adopt courses of action that contradicted a number of Washington’s policies by impeding the Arab-Israeli peace process, continuing to support Hizballah in Lebanon, and aligning with Iran.
Washington imposed sanctions on Syria in 2004, mainly for backing the Palestinian Hamas movement and the Shi’ite Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
Thus, Syria’s international position has worsened due in part to its relationship with Iran, but more recently because of events in Lebanon. Syria made its gravest error thus far by pushing for the amendment of the Lebanese constitution to allow Lebanon’s pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud to run for a second term in office. Syria is accused of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. While direct culpability for accused of the assassination has not been established, Syria’s perceived involvement has cost it dearly as international political pressure continues to mount for a complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.
Now, Washington’s relations with Damascus remain tense; U.S. pressure on Syria seems to be paying off by forcing Damascus to undertake overdue reforms therefore, Syria’s international position has worsened and Assad knows that he has to try to come out of its isolation position in the world and attend to Middle-East peace conference in Annapolis is an opportunity for him .
On the other hand, People in Syria are still waiting for more changes to be done internally and externally and it seems that Ba’ath party has to accept it very soon.