While the storyline in the Middle East is still developing the plot centers around the sustainment of government protests by oppressed citizens that has captured the world’s attention.
In recent years it has been the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that dominated the headlines, but something has changed, the people have risen up, ousted brutal dictators and they’ve done it with the help of social media- not military invasions.
There is no question the Internet has sustained these revolutions and provided a podium for oppressed peoples to question authority and change their destinies.
Protesters in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Egypt have demanded their authoritarian leaders step aside and give the people a say in their own government. Even the lukewarm reception from the Obama Administration hasn’t stopped these young people from risking their lives in order to enact change.
The latest, and perhaps most surprising country to stir the caldron, is Syria.
It’s been subjected to nearly 50 years of brutal and barbaric rule by the Ba’ath Party and the Assad dynasty. Perhaps more astonishing is the fact that the ruling Assad party makes up less than 10 percent of the country’s total population.
“The Syrian people are ready to reclaim their country,” says Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Syria fell into dictatorship 1970, when Hafez Assad swept the thriving European-style country into a vacuum and begin a powerful totalitarian regime that remains in power today. Under the Assad rule, Syrians that speak out in opposition to the ruling party are subject to torture and death.
Dr. Jasser, whose family hails from Syria, contends that the country “has been tragically immune to the world attention, opinion and pressures.”
“The time is now for America to act. Syria is a republic of fear. The dissenters in the streets have now begun to breach the divide of its own government’s terror.”
Like many of the regions’ dictatorships, President Bashar Assad has promised the western world change and said the regime would lift the 40-year emergency rule and acknowledged that the Syrian people have “legitimate grievances.”
However, Assad announced a severe warning to the protesters already in the streets that further unrest would be deemed sabotage. And as such the government would use a heavy hand to end the protests. “We will not tolerate any attempt at sabotage,” he lamented.
Meanwhile the European Union called for President Assad to “change his ways” or face stiff sanctions. The EU will meet again tomorrow to discuss sanctions against Syria’s government. This threat carries serious financial implications for Syria as 23 percent of its trading, $7.9 billion, is with the EU.
Perhaps more concerning for the anti-government protesters in the streets, is the United Nation Security Council’s inability to put forth a statement condemning the violence and deaths of hundreds of dissenters.
According to Al Jazeera, “Russia insisted that the violence in Syria did not meet certain criteria that justified international action against the Syrian government- namely that it was not a threat to international peace and security- and that foreign intervention would pose a threat to regional security.”
However, hundreds of Ba’ath Party members have already announced their resignation after reports of regime henchmen murdering hundreds of innocent protesters began circulating within the media.
The Wall Street Journal released a portion of one letter and it read in part; “Considering the breakdown of values and emblems that we were instilled with by the party and which were destroyed at the hand of the security forces… we announce our withdrawal from the party without regret.”
As news of the defections and murders continue to be released via social media networks, primarily Facebook, the world is finally able to see how an authoritarian regime operates in the face of adversity.
One of those sites was started in the United States. “Save Syria Now,” was created by influential U.S. individuals with a Syrian descent. The Facebook page provides the latest Syrian uprising information for those inside the country and provides a conduit for Americans who wish to lend a hand or follow the events unfolding in the repressive country.
“It is precisely the social media that is providing a platform for Syrians to stay connected. Many are getting the posts out by using technology and satellites from neighboring countries,” Jasser said.
Also Jasser cautions the Obama Administration to not let this opportunity slip away. “The Syrians you see on the street protesting are not only putting their lives on the line, but their families. If the U.S. allows Syrian leaders to stay in power and squash the protesters, the American people will be reading about hundreds of Syrians that have ‘gone missing’ over the next year. That’s how this dictatorial government operates.”
Dr. Jasser as well as 21 others wrote the Obama Administration a letter explaining the urgency that the Syrian revolt represents and the importance of U.S. support.
Even Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) stepped into the fray and said, “We should use the diplomatic weight and authority of the United States to undermine the Syrian dictatorship. I think we are witnessing the slow end of the Assad dictatorship, and we should stand with the people of Syria.”
Dr Jasser agrees with the senator and goes further in explaining the importance of democratic Syria. “A democratic change in Syria could create one of the greatest obstacles to the continuing dangerous ascendancy of Iran, Hezbollah and other pan-Islamist interests in the Middle East.”
“The deep diversity of Syria with its Sunni, Christian, Druze and Alawite populations has been significant reason for its predominantly secular history.”
At the behest of Dr. Jasser, Syria needs to be held accountable for its actions and the best way for that to happen is for the U.S. to place tough economic sanctions on Syria. “These sanctions need to cripple the regime’s ability to inflict harm upon her people; the international media must be allowed to fully cover the protests; and the American government must insist the entire Syrian government resigns and welcomes U.N. observers to oversee a clear roadmap toward democracy.”
So far the 2011 Middle East uprisings have seen Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya successfully fight dictatorial regimes. The question remains will Syria be added to that list?
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved
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