OpinionMeister

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Will a Super-Big Domino be Next?

The Washington Times reports that the success of demonstrations in Lebanon have been noticed in Syria. Link.
DAMASCUS, Syria -- Demonstrations that brought down the government of neighboring Lebanon on Monday inspired Syria's intellectuals and activists to issue new calls yesterday for greater political participation in their own country -- a nation known for its strict limits on dissent. (...)

Mr. Sawah and Mr. Kilo, both outspoken critics of Syrian policy, were among 60 intellectuals, activists and writers who signed a letter last week to voice support for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon and for Lebanese independence.
Syria has an official opposition made up of five registered political parties that generally fall in line with the reigning government of Mr. Assad.
The more outspoken opposition remains unorganized, relatively small, and comes together under the name of a civil society group that works on individual initiatives in a piecemeal fashion. Without a political party or clear organization, they have been left to act on shared opinions.
"These people think that regardless of the role that the Syrian troops played in Lebanon between 1976 and 2000, the pretext for Syrian troops to remain in Lebanon expired after Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon," Mr. Sawah said.

This is not like taking to the streets in Beirut of Kiev. This is more like registering voters in Falluga before the Iraqi election. Syrians who openly criticize the Syrian government are risking their lives. Fear is the force that keeps the Baathists in power in Damascus, and if the Syrians are beginning to lose their fear, it is the beginning of the end for Bashar al-Assad and those around him.

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