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Selective democratization and Syria
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-07-20 08:09:04
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The last weeks, just like everybody else, I have been watching what’s going on in Syria. I have got angry with the pictures that circulate internet, frustrated with the news and sad with the numbers of dead. But I haven’t written anything. I think what stops me is that while kids die in Syria from a ruthless regime Hillary Clinton visits Egypt and has “constructive” talks with the generals that rule the country. And a few years ago others from the democratic west had similar “constructive” talks with another general in Pakistan and a few years ago EU invited for parties and dinners Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

So how this works? And in that I include not just the states but also the media and in extent all of us. Kids die in the most violent way this minute in Syria but there are kids that die under Mugabe’s lethal ruling in Zimbabwe, hundreds of kids but you will find absolutely nothing in the news. And then again Syria’s strategic position in the Middle East and the geopolitical interests in the area is not the same with Zimbabwe. And little has changed in Egypt with the fall of Mubarak but the ones who always ruled from the background are still there and strong ruling with an iron fist and we negotiate them while there is no negotiation with Assad, just ultimatums.

While everybody knew that Musharraf was playing with both sides hoping to expand his influence in the era and control the Taliban for his own agendas, western ministers and prime ministers were visiting him calling him the best and most trustworthy ally in the area. While they were doing that and even though aware that he was betraying them kids were suffering in Pakistan a lot of them dying and if you check organizations’ sites you will find that the life has not changed in Pakistan even today despite the ‘democratization’ of the country and the new not Musharraf leadership.  Actually democracy in Pakistan is limited in certain four walls. The rest of the country still lives in fear, real fear that includes the constantly expanding influence of the Taliban.

Then take Zimbabwe. The fascist regime of Mugabe has literally stripped the country from all natural recourses including the human factor. What remains in the country is a miserable population, dispirits and most of the time hungry and in need of basics. The paramilitary troops of Mugabe kill, kidnap and torture to death any kind of opposition and Morgan Tsvangirai is nothing else of a cell of his former self having most likely become a puppet under the blackmails and threats – perhaps even for his family and surroundings - of a system Mugabe has built in the country. Today nothing has changed in the country but Zimbabwe is not anymore the focus because ‘democratization’ came and is in slow process! And while democracy processing Mugabe still ruling and kids die!

In Egypt Mubarak left but democracy never game, at least in practice. In theory there were elections and rumours about even dead voting just to make sure that the generals’ favourites will triumph. Do Egyptians feel free? Can they exercise freedom of speech, even freedom of opinion? Do Egyptians enjoy equality? I know that I’m going to be provocative but in the case of Egypt and some other states don’t we use their religion as an excuse of demoralization with many limits? I’m sorry but for me you either have democracy or not, you cannot have democracy but no so democracy with basic freedoms limited because of religion. After all most of the religions talk about equality. But this is not a thesis about religion. The generals in Egypt continue control every political move, every expressed idea and they continue to silence – in many ways including imprisonment – everything that doesn’t suit them, their agendas or their very private interests. And yes Mubarak was a corrupted insult but what about the generals? Are they the angels of the non-corruption? And where did Mubarak pumped his power all these years if not from the very same generals? Wasn’t Mubarak the front of these very same generals and their background status quo that rolls Egypt for decades that Hillary has visited and talked with?

Bassar al-Assad is not any worst or any better than his father Haffez al-Assad. Actually Haffez al-Assad had exactly the same roots and followed the same path with Iraq’s Saddam; they even were political Baath comrades. And if Saddam’s atrocities in Iraq are known know and Saddam himself was convicted and died Haffez who transform Beirut from the Paris of the East to the hell of the middle east died peacefully in his gold made bed after thirty years of slaughtering Syrian and Lebanese people.

Of course the pictures of dead devastate me but the same time they make me wander, why now! Why this democratization is so selective and what interests this serves apart from democracy. And you know it makes me more suspicious if democracy has anything to do with it since the generals in Egypt become part of this democratization. And yes I want to see Bassar al-Assad in prison to pay for all the crimes his family has done the last forty years in Syria but I also want to see Mugabe in prison and I want to see the Syrians and Zimbabweans waking up to a democratic state not finding the generals calling them to obey!

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Emanuel Paparella2012-07-20 11:08:51
And so Syria and democracy have become another piece on the chessboard of realpolitick played out at the UN as we speak, where we have much ado about world peace, human rights and democratic rule of law while Russia and China wield their veto vote and protect, a brutal regime destined for the heap of history. Meanwhile the democratic West limits itself to condemning the brutality and paying lip service to democracy while consorting with the generals. But so far precious little has been done internationally to help the insurgents and protect innocent civilians, after all, there are soccer and football games to attend to and the economy needs our attention. Déjà vu? Indeed, two thousand years ago it was the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire, the rule of law and republicanism. Those who do not learn from history, said Marx, are condemned to repeat it, to which Santayana piped in: and the second time around as a farce.

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