Democracy and Human Rights in
and Human Rights in
A Collective Work with 18 Syrian Researchers
Supervised by: Violette Daguerre
Translated from arabic by: Zayna Larbi
All Right Reserved #
1st English ed. 2002
1st Arabic ed. 2001
Arab Commission for Human Rights
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http://home7.swipnet.se/~w-79939 & www.come.to/achr
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Translated by: Zayna LARBI
Democracy and Human Rights
A Collective Work with 18 Syrian Researchers
ARAB COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
In cooperation with
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
The Participating Writers
Abdel Razaq Eid
Aslan Abd Al Kareem
Haytham Al Maleh
Hussein Al Oudat
Jad Al Kareem Al Jeba'i
Kareem Abu Halawa
Mohammed Al Oudat
Mohammed Issam Dimashki
Mohammed Najati Tayarah
Omar Deeb Abdel Hameed
Sameer Al Adeli
Tameem & Majed
The Opinion and the Sword:
The Mechanisms of Possessing the State and Reinforcing the Authority
The Social Foundation of the Political Conversion
The Totalitarian System
An Entrance to Read Plurality
The Political Parties
The Social Diversions and the Role of Civil Organizations
The Syrian Movement of Human Rights
The Judicial System
The Social and Psychological Effects on the DΕtente
And the Deprivation of Civil Rights
The Policy of Communication (Information - Culture - Education)
The Syrian Economy: the Reality and the Prospects
The Environmental Problems
The Matter of Minorities
The Position of the Youth
The External Policy of
- Between the Constants and Variables
- The 1st comment:
- The 2nd comment: Barcelona Declaration and the
The Characteristics of An Epoch
Appendixes (from 1 to 11)
A Brief Sight:
This part of the world
shares the old civilization and urbanism of Bilad Al Rafidain and
In 1958, after the positive
referendum for the Syrian-Egyptian Union, the political Parties were dissolved
At the end of 1965, the
historical Nationalistic Leadership tried to take over the power from the
military, but the "Military Committee", which was after the coup
d`etat of 1963, made a new coup d`etat in
The idea of the individual leader replaced the leading Party with the start of Assad's movement. Through a number of decrees, the principle authorities were centralized in the hands of the president. Also, the constitution was arranged according to the presidential ideology and the arbitrary methods, which restricted the articulations of ruling and the three authorities into the person of the president. So, loyalty to the "Leader", who based his leadership upon affording privileges and personal benefits to his followers, became the rule for governing. At the same time, the sovereignty of law and the principle of control became absent, and the organizations of the civil society were dispensed. In fact, these things play the role of a counter authority, which protects the nation from the arbitrariness of the ruling powers. Since that date, the deep-rooted movement of associations had no margin of independence from the Regional Leadership of Ba'ath and the different branches of security determined its leaderships, policies and its biggest and smallest activities.
This way of domination briefed the political society into Ba'ath Party and the Party into its leadership that supported General Assad. Also, the society became militarized and the bodies of security enlarged like a spreading cancer, which were restrained within the Party's spirit and fanaticism. The centralization of authorities within a limited group led to the union of wealth and power among few individuals and suffocating the free independent initiatives in the society whether political, social, cultural or economical.
President Hafez Assad let
free the bodies of securities, which had troops of secret agents, professional
and amateurs of reports' writers, to repress the citizens, as they want, to the
extent that he could not control them anymore. For example, before the big
massacres that where mentioned in the first annex, the agreement between the
representatives of Assad and the deputy of Muslim Brotherhood guide, Ameen
Yakan, during the first three months of 1980, was to halt violence.
Practically, to solve the conflict peacefully, the government started to
release some political prisoners. Nevertheless, Riffat Assad, the president's brother
and the leader of Saraya Al Difaa, executed the official Husni A'abo, who was
to be released. Riffat contradicted the instructions of the president because
he wanted to prove the strong role of the private units and security. This was
one reason for the committed massacres that terminated with the tragedy of
By the name of preserving
security and settlement, big numbers of the oppositions were led into military
field courts according to the issued legislative decree in 1980. The decree
enabled these courts the jurisdictions to include the prosecution of civil
individuals by military officers, who were not legal judges and received orders
from their commands. According to the verdicts of these courts, a large number
of civil opponents were executed, others were sentenced for long years of
imprisonment that exceeded one or two decades, in addition to the abduction of
big numbers of prisoners, whose fate is not discovered yet. Some information,
from inside the prisons, confirmed that about 10 thousand prisoners died under
torture, executions and in the massacres, which were committed in the prison of
A big part of prisoners had been released, whose number reached in the eighties 18 thousand prisoners. Around 1.200 prisoners remained till today. Many of them died just after they were released. The rest could not retain their civil rights and go back to their jobs in the public sector. Moreover, they suffered a lot of psychological effects and body deformations because of the applied barbarian methods of torture. In addition, they lacked the associations that could take care of them, treat and rehabilitate them. Even in the private sector, it was very difficult for them to find jobs because all their official documents refer to their past as former prisoners. Apart from some exceptions, most of them lost the chance of working, regaining their social rank and insuring the future of their families. Furthermore, the released prisoners are prohibited from traveling abroad to earn their living because they can not obtain a passport. To get passports, they need official documents, which prove that they were not convicted.
On the other hand, more
than half of the society lives below the poverty line, about 60% of the
citizens. Also, there is a high percentage of unemployment, which might form
one fourth of the manpower or 18% according to the unified economical report of
1998. The central office of statistics indicated that the percentage of
unemployment is 9.5%. Due to lack of transparency, real statistics and sure
information the numbers vary. In addition, the average of development is very
low; while it is considered "zero" according to the Minister of
Planing, it is estimated "negative" by the studies of the Chamber of
Commerce. Also, production has deteriorated and its quality retreated,
especially, when the value of work abases and becomes almost a sort of corvee,
without receiving the deserved payment. Although
Some reasons of the corruption are due to the relinquishment of the public sector, the absence of control and the impossibility of continuous upper supervision. This is in case there are true intentions to control corruption because it threatens the foundations of the regime itself. In addition, the transparency is absent from the projects of investment, external commercial deals and the fund of assistance, which the rumors said that minor individuals, who lived upon stealing the state, monopolized it. See annex No. 2, the memorandum that was submitted by MP Riad Saif in August 2000 to the head of Parliament. It was about the deal of Mobile Phones, in which the government lost 400 billion Syrian pounds (8 billion US dollars), and the contractors gained an illegal net profit of about 200 to 300 billion Syrian pounds.
All the obvious rights of people were employed in the bourse of corruption. Obtaining a normal telephone set, importing a car from abroad, opening a clinic, managing a passport or any other simple right became available through bribery and favoritism. Whereas the phenomenon of corruption personified the bad use of authority and lack of legal and moral controls, this phenomenon abused and spread devastation on all levels. Some of its abuses were clarified in the basements of prisons, which openly violated the fundamental human rights. See annex No. 3 about corruption, which expressed the securities' mal treatment to the victims of the arbitrary detention. Unfortunately, the launch to controll corruption does not obtain more than a few million Syrian pounds to deal with such an aggravated position. At the same time, the amount of stolen and smuggled money during the era of Hafez Assad exceeded 60 billion US dollars; other estimations indicated 85 Billion US dollars.
This period of modern Syrian history reduced the limits of national political participation and created a cultural desertification, which loss was restricted because of other Arab and international atmospheres that prevented the complete assassination of the human capacities. However, the group and sectarian consciousness developed on the expense of the national belonging. The political parties were dissolved, either in prisons or acted as the horns of the authority within the increasing atmosphere of fear from the future and the others.
The financial pauperization and moral humiliation were accompanied by a diligent attempt for immigration and the loss of important cadres and minds, mainly, the young generation. Unfortunately, the reasons were not only political, but economical as well. Job opportunities in the public sector were confiscated according to the consideration of Party's favoritism, loyalty and mediation.
The Aspects of Work at the Beginning of an Era:
Since its start, the Arab
Commission for Human Rights suggested the project of issuing a yearly report
about the positions of human rights in the Arab world provided that it
respected the comprehensive, impartial nature of all the rights. The report
also should form a turning point from all the usual partial reports that dealt
with specific subjects or according to the prevailing rights of western
countries. Due to the necessity to have an infra informational background, it
was suggested to proceed a legal research which enables the defenders of human
rights to have the primary material about the position in the Arab countries.
The project of research
concentrated on the necessity of dealing with the six fundamental rights, the
political, civil, social, economical, cultural and environmental. The research
approached the points of continuity, severance and the new forms of creations
in the Syrian society. The first date of the researching delegation to
The later developments left prints on the primary vision of the project and its progress. In fact, the role of the intellectuals escalated the movements of the democratic protest, the demands for political reformation and the spread of forums and lectures. Therefore, it was necessary to give the priority of research and work for those who live under the new transitory conditions. Besides, those were more qualified to define the position than the other neutral watchers. Consequently, the distribution of work changed and the researching committee abroad, which was an essential part of forming the research, became a consulting and supplementary part.
The yearning for change, which was long waited, and the transitional position due to the death of the president were accompanied with the development of the intellectual's movement and the democratic opposition, which started to submit their demands and visions for the coming period. The speech of the constitutional oath of President Bashar Assad on 17.7.2000, which was issued in the exceptional session of the People's Council, encouraged the movements and gave optimism to many people. The president confessed the existence of a crisis that could not be faced with a magical stick but by reformation, modifications and the assistance of the others, as well as, the political opposition, which he called "the other opinion".
Some people that we met
were cautious, others preferred to wait and give the president a chance (where
nothing changed other than him) to interpret his political speech in practice.
The third group that we met was more pessimistic or realistic. Thus, they did
not consider their dreams as objective facts and did not bet on the conditional
aspects, which might be of short extent and subjected to contingent events.
They believed that the president did not come through the nation's will but was
imposed from above. He resumed the presidency according to the wish of his
father and his own desire too, (or at least his agreement), besides, the
accordance of the sides, which obtain the real scales of powers inside the
regime. Thus, the constitution was adjusted to suit the age of the new
president and the Syrian regime was, ironically, called "the inherited
republican system". Probably, the new president had some visions for
reformation but he did not submit any project of reformation or a program for
changing. In addition, his personality and short experience in governing that
he practiced during the late years of his father's rule, which had a state of
stagnancy and a severance of the external financial flows, plus, the inability
of any side to make important initiatives, would not allow him to change the
scales of powers to the benefit of reformation. This is in case we suppose that
his intentions to make real changes are serious. Another fundamental matter is
that the leading personalities of the authority, who were known in
According to the lawyer Hassan Abd Al Azeem, whom we met as a representative of the Democratic National Assembly (the assembly of the opponent Parties), the development that occurred after half a year of the new age clarified a new direction inside the system. "The new trend was led by the president toward political and economical openness and releasing a margin for the freedom of expression, through the forums that spread in the Syrian cities but under the control of security. This tendency was faced by trials from inside the regime and Ba'ath Party to cancel this margin and impede any real change even if it was gradual. The opposing direction is expressed in the official and Arab newspapers. It tries to show the new leadership that the regime would be endangered because of the political and cultural activities of the intellectuals and the national powers from outside the ruling government. However, the obstacles do not come from the intellectuals who are outside the rule but from inside the regime. The former politicians have fears from any real reformation that might lead into national control and open the files of corruption, which would approach them. Thus, the positions seem to be ready for all the probabilities. The matters are still ranging in the same place where the new cadres of no clear vision penetrate within the old which still insist on their attitude and want to prevent the existence of other powers and impede any expressions".
It is clear that the regime is still restrained, as in the past, to the obsession of security. Until now, the regime did not allow any spontaneous national demonstration to express its obsessions, for example, to express the Syrian national solidarity with the Intifada. The forces contra troubles encircled a demonstration that the opposing Parties had called for, from its beginning. Another demonstration by the Palestinian refugees was repressed as well. The only permitted demonstrations were the ones organized, programmed and supervised by the regime and were employed for its propaganda. At the same time, some sides of the authority started individual dialogues with some intellectuals to inquire about their intentions and to remind them of the red lines, which should not be exceeded. In fact, these sides did not attempt to open dialogue with the Parties of the democratic assembly that represented the real powers. It seemed that the regime was occupied with organizing the interior system and preparing for the elections of Ba'ath Party. Thus, the regime left a little margin for the opponents, who "did not commit a mistake yet" according the influential Asef Shawkat.
In brief, through this transitional period, some groups, from inside the regime, are pushing forward in the direction of change and reformation but the economical position is very critical and uneasy to be moved. Other groups are preserving the legitimacy of their continuity but without the frame of the bodies of security and the use of power. In addition, a third group is, violently, resisting any aspect that might change the current position and reserving all its efforts to reproduce the same system.
On the other hand, some external sides, mainly Europeans, showed interests to assist in loosening the position. Also, the democratic opposition attempted to practice pressure, which would lead for releasing or exceeding the position. The opposition warned from the attempts of abuse and containment, so, the ruling powers would find justifications to repress its movements. It tried to widen its movement from the level of the political elite's circles into the social and national sectors like, the unions of professionals. These unions, which role is enlarging, might form a power that presses the system to strengthen the directions of changes because it can not bet on what the system might voluntarily afford to the nation.
Soon, the pessimistic expectations proved to be right. A few months later, after President Bashar Assad resumed the presidency and some relative releases occurred, which were objectively expected, the attitude of the ruling authority retreated. On February 2001, the signs of retractions and retreats appeared. The bodies of security, the ruling Ba'ath and its supporting Parties of the front all launched a fierce campaign against the "ignorant stupid nation that does not deserve freedom" and the "intellectuals who deal with the foreign Embassies". This launch had reflexes or support that appeared in the declarations of the President, which contradicted the former announcements in his speech of oath.
During that time, we made contacts to listen to the views of the opposition, the official and non-official Parties and institutions, as well as, the official sides but things proceeded unlike the hopes. The launched campaign of the authority that was afraid of the citizens wakening and renewed the ways of terrifying people and exploiting them, as it used for decades, was reflected negatively on some groups. The retreat of the authority to old methods was the turning point to the beginning, where the changes did not have accumulations yet. This retreat affected some individuals of the opposition and researchers, who through different justifications drew back from participating in this work. Due to these retreating steps, some gaps occurred, therefore, we tried to rectify some during the short time that we had. We hope to be able to fulfill all the gaps in other proper time.
The recoil was accompanied
by the designation of
The Syrian events that
related to the democratic matter were issued in the Arabic press, besides, the representative of Arab Commission for Human
Rights submitted that to the Committee on Human Rights in
I think that the death of
the President, Hafez Assad, created the case of the absence of decision on many
levels. Consequently, the case created a sort of stumbles, carelessness,
excessive cautiousness and fear, which certainly became a new element in the
camp of the ruler after being a center in the sphere of the convicted people.
It seems that there is a real crisis in the futuristic vision about the
relationship between the ruling military gathering and all whom they were not
used to deal with, such as, NGOs, Journalists and independent intellectuals,
regionally and internationally. This might be because of the transfer from the
usual praise into interrogation, also, the existence of the critical speech or
the attempts to evaluate and analyze the Syrian experience from outside the
regime. The positive side in our work was that the Syrian authority, which some
of its sides, at least, knew about our project and works inside the country,
did not take procedures to prevent our entry to
The Changes during Last Year:
As a supervisor of this
project, I was right to insist on reflecting the image of the country according
to how the citizens live and perceive it. Courageous and qualified
intellectuals and activists in the general field bet and proved through their
uncounted sacrifices about an optimistic and promising future of their country.
In spite of the frightening atmosphere and the charge with treachery, they
agreed to accomplish the mission of disassembling the structure of the
totalitarian authority that marked the late decades. Actually, the directions
of reformation were accused of attempts to destroy the political system and
For sure, some adherent sides to the regime still encircle the image of the dead president with a divine aura. This aura seems to be increasing after the president's death. There is an example from the official journals like, Al Ba'ath, which issued in the annual remembrance of President Hafez Assad's death, on 12.6.2001, the following: "Till when the phenomenon of Hafez Assad would wait a serious scientific research? Till when our Syrian Arab education, especially the Ba'athi, will remain incapable and deficient to make researches about this distinguished and unique phenomenon? (...) I encourage and urge the researchers of political science, political sociology, political psychology and social science to treat this rich subject. (...) This remembrance today requires directing our researchers and scientific institutions to start a big encyclopedic work in order to fulfill researching the phenomenon of the eternal leader. This phenomenon must be placed within the scientific recognition after it, always, headed the top in the field of honest national spontaneity. This is necessary for the sake of science and the future of the generations... and the generations of the future".
According to political
psychology it is believed that such inflexible attitudes, especially to those
who are in official responsibility, are dangerous. These attitudes conceal the
necessity of studying the past and its symbol, examining and criticizing it in
order to make benefit for founding a future based upon the past's rubbles
instead of glorifying and hiding from responsibility toward the current
position. Contrary to the beliefs of some groups, whether from the regime or
the opposition, analyzing the past and evaluating the black era of modern
Syrian history would enable the Syrian nations a chance for reconciliation with
themselves and not the opposite. Such a tendency would free them from the
hidden inherited fear that had existed in the forgotten memory and accumulated
in the individual and collective unconsciousness. With such a courageous step,
the nation would have bases for a new start to build a State of law and
reformation, opened to the world to go along with the current civilization, which
The observer inquires about
the regime's excessive fear from the freedom of expression, especially, when he
concludes that the group, which started the political moves, is a very few
percentage of the society and small percentage of the intellectuals. In fact,
only a minority emerged through the absence of effective social and political
powers' role because they were exposed to repression and disassembling during
the last three decades. The members of the Committee on Human Rights which is
subordinated to the United Nations, were surprised
when the head of the Syrian delegation mentioned, proudly, that there were 600
In spite of the
geographical separation and the remoteness of direct influence, the critical
position affected the opponents abroad, who belonged and reacted to the Syrian
environment. The opponents suffer the same symptoms of splits and
self-destruction or they are directed toward the nearest and similar circles
that are subjugated to the mechanism of comparisons and competence. Especially,
those who exist in
Today, after the new president resumed the presidency for more than a year, nothing seems to have changed. There are some improvements in some matters and manifestations, but no fundamental changes happened. After a period of fidgetiness and hopes for divergence, which started to appear during the late years of Hafez Assad's rule and doubled after his death, the dynamism of modifications is still inadequate for a practical changing of the past and imposing a fundamental intrinsic modification. I believe that the formation of repression still exists even though it differed, superficially, for objective reasons that sometimes envelop some of its expressions. To have a basic change or at least serious and effective, there should be a diversion which approaches the depth of consciousness and conduct of those who decide the policy of the country. This seems to be impossible now and needs a long time to be achieved because the correct formation of the society is based upon the right development of the human being through a dialectical relation between the cause and the result.
At the same time, the correction might not occur before changing the personality of the ruler who marked the country with his own stamp for decades. Also, this is related to the development of the objective conditions on the local and international levels and the influences of the external relations, so that it would be impossible to return back to the critical stages, which the country passed through. The Syrian regime, which at the end of the seventies felt the fidgetiness of people and the joining of national sectors to the opposition, and perceived the depth of the social movement, tried for a while to make a subjective-revision. Then, the regime soon retreated and depended on its own capacities and the usual methods to exceed the crises. Thus, it used the primitive mechanisms for self-defense and what followed of ruining the country instead of finding a civilized and rational exit to all sides of conflict, which returns the right for the owners and satisfies all the groups.
A year after the new ruling, we found that the majority of whom we met suffer from the state of immobilization and were pessimistic about the possibility of changing the position toward practical political, administrative and economical reformation. They appreciated that the authority clarified its attitude toward modification, which helped to uncover, quickly, the illusions of changes. If removing the pictures of the dead president from the public places and restraining them inside the official institutions represents the changes, then, these pictures started to appear again. It seems as if there is a symbolic war through which the conflict is expressed between the heralds for modifications and the leading groups, who defend their benefits and are afraid of the people's movements and demands.
In this transitional stage, after the death of the former president, there has been an emptiness, which could not be fulfilled with the absence of a definite political program, clear directions of the system and dynamism to take decisions and accomplish procedures. The emptiness elevated the percentage of expectations and bets on the future and urged the social moves to push for making modifications. Reconstructing the relation between the regime and the state is demanded on the basis of new plans strengthened by a solid will. Also, there is a need for a leadership that can implement such a project and impose respect for legal and moral laws and organizing disciplines for a proper modification and reformation. This should be accompanied by giving the chance for the powers of the civil society to regain their role through participation in decisions and in the operations of development. The change will not occur alone if the sides that monopolize the scales of powers attempt to keep everything unchanged and the citizens remain absent from the struggle for modification.
If some sides of the regime are convinced about the necessity of reformation and openness to emerge from the dilemma of the Syrian position, in return, many other sides have so much confusion and unclear vision. Besides, there is no concordance about the way of achieving reformation and the necessity to join the political and the economical reformation. However, such attempts of openness are so weak in comparison to the strong influence that still resists modifications.
It is not difficult to count the recent developments that took place during the first year of the new age because they were limited and shy. They are divided into two aspects, the first, are economical accomplishments that are submitted as the achievements of the new president toward change and reformations. The second are political accomplishments in which the authority has no positive or effective role. On the contrary, the authority still considers that the citizens' reacquire of their own rights is a favor, which the authority gives as much as it wants and whenever it wants. Furthermore, the authority still considers the demands for democracy, freedoms, human rights and modern life that goes along with the new international developments and stands against bureaucracy, corruption and exceptional laws, and reconsiders political plurality, free election and alternation of authority, a novelty caused by external antagonist fronts.
- First, The Economical Reformation:
Primarily, we would like to
refer to the submitted lectures and discussions during the annual Syrian
Economical Conference, which was held in
In an interview with the
periodical "The Political Observer" of 15-21 July 2001, the Syrian
Minister of Foreign Affaires, Farouk Al Chara, confirmed that "the
developments, openness, modernization and reformation represent the program of
the government of President Bashar Assad. The President had started to
accomplish this program before the death of his father. (...) It is still early
to judge the accomplished achievements because there are many difficulties and
the work needs more time". Mr. Chara went further when he considered that
"the political and economical openness is an integral operation, which
needs to adjust the related laws and systems... Sticking to reformation and
openness emerges from interest and conviction that each stage has demands and
would reflect advantages to the Syrians". On the other hand, the Minister
of Planning, Issam Al Za'eem, announced that the banking system in
On 16.7.2001, Al Mustakbal magazine published the research of the economist Sameer Sa'ifan about "The Syrian Economy during Last Year between the Necessities of Change and the Factors of Obstruction". Mr. Sa'ifan started his research by discussing the presidential speech of oath, which reflected "perceiving the nature of the stage, the weak points of the Syrian economy and the requirements for developing it". Also, he confirmed the necessity of a general strategy for development, which its loss had led to "experimental, extemporary and reactional decisions". The President pointed out that reformation would be achieved through "modernizing the laws, removing the bureaucratic obstacles for the internal and external investments, mobilizing both general and private fund and activating the public sector in the external markets". To consolidate the economical reformation, Mr. Sa'ifan affirmed the urgent need for administrative reformation in the public and private sectors, and the necessity to "fight against the negligent, delinquent, harmful and corrupted individuals". Besides, he drew attention to "the significance of the judicial system and the importance to include qualified honest cadres". To complete the plan of change, the President believed that there should be a "transparent economy, transparent media, transparent mind and a transparent personality that deals, honestly and transparently, with itself and the reality". (...) "Our present reality does not suit the new century which is the century of organizations and technologies".
Mr. Sa'ifan observed the obstacles of the Syrian economy that was affected by the former Soviet sample, which led into the collapse of the Socialist camp because it contradicted the directions of the current international economy of the capitalistic market. Thus, the concentrated centralization and the commanding administrative interference with directing the economy impeded its productive capacity. Also, dealing with the international economy of different types and foundations became confusing and perplexing, in addition to the different challenges that face the Syrian economy. The challenges "are represented by the weakness of averages of investments and growth, the transfer of the capitals outside the country. Also, there is a rise in the averages of unemployment and constancy of the individuals incomes, beside an increasing variety in wealth distribution and the deterioration of the middle class, as well as, the abase of many groups below the poverty line. (...) Besides, the economy has a weak technological base, limited productive capacity and traditional light industry of little value. (...) Moreover, the administration is weak on the upper and lower levels, and in the different sectors. Its legal frame is inapt; its organization and association frame is retarded and strange from the present reality. Furthermore, the education for graduation does not fit to the demands of the market of work, besides, spending a lot for education without benefiting from it, thousands of graduates have overabundance specializations or improper rehabilitation. Other than that, there is weakness in exploiting tourism, plus, many capacities and qualifications are improperly used, unfitting financial and tax policies and different disorders in all balances".
The Syrian economy is facing other future challenges, which are "represented by drought, decrease of water and the probabilities of oil production's retreat with the increase of local consumption, and its effects on the principal source of the government's hard currencies. (...) The most prominent matters that the administration of the president suffers from are the absence of a plan, the long-term policies, the foundations and measures, the overcoming of the temporary considerations and the pressures of the incidental problems upon the policies. Also, it suffers from the big influence of the personal benefits, bureaucracy and parasites on the economical decisions and lack of centers that form policies for specialization and specialized scientific studies, plus, limitation in knowing the reality".
The researcher defined the obstacles that face the transition into a new economical way as follows:
- The difficulties of defining new trusted alternatives because the equations of economical strategies have no guaranteed results. Actually, the certified scientific information of the Syrian economy's reality is much less than the demanded standard because of weak statistics, insufficient studies and lack of transparency.
- The difficulty of applying the adopted choices because of limited resources.
- The resistance of the old measures against any new aspect because people get used and subjugated to the familiar and the already-known methods.
- There are difficulties caused by the traditional cadres that control different levels of the governmental administrations. Some groups resist, fiercely, because they fear loosing their ruling positions and the capacity of exploitation to achieve big fortunes on the expense of the public benefit. Thus, most of them resist any changes of the well-known methods and systems because they fear their inability to accord with the new intended systems of the economical market. In fact, changing the cadres is necessary in any operation of modification.
- The fifth difficulty is
related to the conflict with
How the changes occurred in the first year?
The Recent Developments
Mr. Sa'ifan said that the
new government started with a high dynamism, where the program of accelerating
reformations had been initiated in March 1999. The government was given more
jurisdictions, so, it moved efficiently and brought hopes of a new
administrative atmosphere. Also, many executive procedures were taken and
provided more flexibility to the lower administrations. On the economical
level, for example, the average of salaries and wages increased to 25%, the
strategy of export was recognized and the Syrian exportations became exempted
from tax income. Also, customs and commercial agreements were signed with five
Arab countries, and similar projects with 8 other countries. The tariff of
customs was applied again and the customs duties for industries' supplements
were decreased. Import of tourist cars became permitted, the law of banking and
secrecy of accounts was issued. Also, the loans from
In addition, other laws were issued for rental of real estates and organizing universities, plus, establishing four Colleges of Information Systems and an Institute to rehabilitate the leading cadres, a Ministry of Administrative Development and a Ministry of Technology. Also, many projects were set up, such as, the draft law of the Central bank, fund and credit, the law of the financial market, the law of reforming the public sector and a commercial law. Besides, there was a law of emergency program to control unemployment, which was a courageous idea and step in comparison to the previous policies, and a draft law for private universities. Furthermore, there were discussions about tax, fund and financial reformation, as well as, adjusting the legislations of economical sanctions and courts, and the policy of the external trade and its procedures.
On the other hand, the discussions of the Syrian-European partnership were activated, some of the binding matters were solved and some aids were liberated like, the program of media. On the level of making the economical decision, there was a transformation by releasing the important decisions from the narrow rooms of the official institutes to be discussed by specialized committees of wider visions. Therefore, the committee No. 18 was founded, which submitted a report about the Syrian economy and the prospects of its development, plus, the Committee No. 35 from which two subsidiary specialized committees were established. While the first specialized committee implemented the draft law for reforming the public sector, the second one set up the principles of a draft law for reforming the private sector. Two Other committees were founded to study the draft law of the central bank, fund and credit, and the draft law for the financial market.
The Ministry of Planning assisted again by arousing the attention toward the matter of plan and planning on the short, medium and long run. According to the demand of the Prime Ministry, all the ministries evaluated their actual reality and founded short, medium and long-term plans. Specialized ministerial meetings were held to discuss the plans of the ministries to implement a new fifth plan, and to continue the work for establishing further future plans. Also, there were wide studies about the administrations and the changes of many commandments.
All these steps, whether
recognized or still under discussions founded for essential changes that would
accumulate and lead to modify the nature of the current administrative and
economical systems in
The researcher said: "Following what was implemented or delayed of the decided procedures, which had seemed ready to be recognized, make us notice the big distance between the goal that aimed to legislate the step and the mode in which these steps were accomplished by the executive institution. This clarifies the big influence of the impeding and rejecting powers".
According to the
researcher, Mr. Sa'ifan, the government that seemed dynamic and flexible
terminated to restrain itself within routine, bureaucracy and hesitation, and
it promised much more than it did. So, the committee No. 18 was terminated
instead of developing its work to become a permanent consulting institution.
The committee No. 35, which was authorized to establish the foundations for
reforming the public and private sectors, was canceled. Instead, the tendency
now is to establish a small committee, which consists of some employees. In
spite of limitedness, the increase of salaries had in return an increase of
prices, which almost compensated for the Ministry of Finance the difference of
the salaries' augmentation. As for applying the law of canceling the pension's limits,
there were attempts to modify its signification. Also, the reapplication of
Brussels Tariff, which had been canceled, was partially accomplished. Imposing
instructions to collect tax from imported tourist cars were done in a very
perplexing and hesitating way. The committee of tax reforming disappeared with
its report without any practical results. Until now, the executive instructions
for the law of banking are not issued yet, which negatively affects the
credibility of investment. The Ministry of Economy has not done any efficient
efforts to develop the sector of banking. The session of the People's Council
has terminated without issuing the law of the Central Bank of
Many months passed, until now the law of emergency program for controlling unemployment has not been recognized yet. Also, no specialized working groups started yet to study the economical benefits of each economical sector in relation to the Syrian-European partnership for defining the ways of avoiding disadvantages and making benefit of the preferences. The atmosphere of investment is still unattractive and the discussions are much more than the actions to improve it. Since more than a decade, the discussions are still on for establishing industrial regions. The Syrian cotton is still sent raw without encouraging the private sector to spin it. Fruits and vegetables are still putrid and spoiled without finding easy procedures to export them. In spite of the danger of water shortage, the most urgent program for developing the irrigation systems is still waiting for practical steps. On the other hand, the fear of control, investigation and economical courts is still confusing the governmental administrations. The Ministry of Administrative Development is still occupied by preparing its reports and studies without any real effect. The different institutions' interference in the governmental administrations is still practiced in a perplexing way, which are already perplexed. In spite of some improvements, the traditions of suppression, hiding information and lack of transparency are still functioning strongly.
Mr. Sa'ifan believes that there are four decisive signs to be changed: the averages of investment and development, bureaucracy, corruption and the satisfaction of the public. "It seems that these signs are still untouched yet because investments are still retreating and developments are still weak. Also, the governmental bureaucracy is still the same, although there had been optimism through the period from March 2000 to the spring of 2001, but the bureaucratic atmospheres returned back. The matter of changing the ministries confounded the functions of the ministries and the Ministers. Even though the central organization's activities and the judiciary economical penalties, which are ineffective and not pointed directly to the real goals, are still on. Besides, the day to day corruption is almost the same".
According to the writer, "people were optimistic about the future and are still so. In spite of optimism, the level of incomes in comparison to the prices and the costs of living do not satisfy the public. Actually, each family, who depends on the salary, only, is living below the line of poverty range. These families form a big part of the Syrian nation. Until now, there is no declared plan to treat the problem of salaries and wages. The citizens have the right to be in a hurry to recognize improvements because they have been suffering for years, but the new policies cannot give results so soon and need more time. Therefore, it is a very important matter to duplicate between the steps that provide benefits for the citizens, even limited ones, and the procedures that establish for a strong development in the future".
- Second, The Political Reformation:
During last year, one of
the most important late developments on the political level was releasing a
part of the political dΕtentes. Then, the
intellectuals had some activities, including issuing statements, establishing
associations from which some were for human rights. Also, many forums were
opened in private homes in
Some of these recent developments cannot be considered final because during the whole past year, the position was by fits and starts between sides of unequaled scales of powers. So, the associations and forums are still unlicensed and some were closed by the regime, shortly after starting their activities, such as, the forum of MP Riad Saif or the lawyer Khaleel Ma'took. They both announced in a statement about their attempts to reopen their forums at the beginning of September. On 19.2.2001, the authorities imposed five provisions for organizing a forum in a private home, as follows:
1 - Asking the Mayor for an official permission, 15 days ahead.
2 - Obtaining a personal permission for the lecturer.
3 - Submitting a list including the names of whom would attend the lecture.
4 - Submitting a summary about the subject of the lecture.
5 - Defining the time and place of the lecture.
Still, Mr. Habeeb Saleh said, "I submitted all the demanded information for the Mayor of Tartous, Aram Saleeba, two weeks before the lecture. The response came on 14.3.2001 by two persons from the political security and another four policemen officers who came to my home at night and asked me to submit a written promise that I would never practice or participate in any forum's activity in the future".
Not so many other forums were disregarded and continued their activities but their turn came after the siege increased. For example, the Leftist Forum of Dialogue, which issued a statement on 10.8.2001 to condemn the different pressures of the political security to stop the forums' activity. The statement called for "terminating these pressures and organizing the activities of the forums according to law in order to assist in a peaceful and quiet democratic change with the participation of all the sides". The forum of Jamal Atasi, which is still open, could not obtain a license from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor by the excuse of not having a definite specialization. According to the official newspapers, President Assad declared that the forums are excluded from the organizing procedures. However, after repressing, violently, the movement of Muslim Brotherhood for more than twenty years, the authority gave, lately, a license for one forum. The head of this forum explained that it is "following a renewed Islamic trend, which opposes the movement of Muslim Brotherhood and looks forwards to spread moderate Islamic thoughts through social and cultural lectures".
What happened to the demands of the opposition like, the end of the state of emergency, the elimination of martial laws and exceptional courts, the release of the political dΕtentes, the return of the abducted, the release of fundamental freedoms, the issue of Parties' law, associations and press?
The positions are still the same and the martial laws continue since 38 years. The authorities still face the nation with excuses for the continuity of these laws in order to protect themselves. The institutions of the state, especially the judicial, are inoperative and emptied of their meanings and practical actions by the domination of the executive authority. The abducted persons are still in their forcible or voluntarily exiles and prohibited from returning to their country. They have been separated for decades from their families, who are treated like hostages. Whenever the authorities want to make pressures on the sons for certain reasons, their families become exposed to repressions and inquiries, beside extortions, sometimes.
The intellectual elite that
issued the statements of '99', '1200' or participated in the forums or moved in
any direction against repression were counterfeited by different responses,
such as, dismissing them from work, suspending their promotions, accusing them
of madness or evading payment of taxes. Also, they were accused of defaming the
These foreign directions that work according to "an anticipated prepared program to exhaust the Syrian regime and push it by programmed internal-external pressures to retreat and accept the American demanded reconciliation with the Israeli provisions". (Al Muharer Al Arabi, 9.8.2001). Also, the magazine wrote about the launch against the independent MP Mohamed Ma'moun Al Homsi, who submitted his demands to the People's Council. His demands included terminating the state of emergency and martial laws, forming a Parliamentarian committee for human rights, restricting the bodies of security and releasing the political authority. (See annex No. 8). Due to his hunger strike protest for one week in his office, he was arbitrarily detained on 9.8.2001 and lost his MP immunity, partially. Although he has diabetes and asthma, he was prevented of any visits or health treatment in a hospital.
Some of the accusations against MP Homsi were: defaming the constitution, antagonizing the regime, contacting foreign enemies and others. Also, the organizations of human rights that supported him were defamed, and he was forced to disavowal from them. His lawyers submitted an appeal over the public right and referred to lack of permission for provisional detention, the irregular subpoena that contradicted the constitution and violated his MP immunity, which meant the invalidity of all the procedures against the arrested. Also, they said that the case is political and not criminal, therefore, MP Homsi must be released immediately. The Judge refused the appeal without discussion or justifications. This proves that judiciary has no real role in this case, as in the other cases, and confirms that the political and security commandments take the decision.
Mr. Homsi is not the only one of the People's Council who was exposed to pressures to keep silent from what he knew and saw. The independent MP Riad Saif had the same pressures after his known activity in the movements of forums and human rights. Thus, he was detained too.
As for prisons, the only
prison, which was closed last year, is the prison of Mazzah. The other prisons
are still open, as usual, and include according to our estimations about 1.200
political prisoners. A big part of the prisoners have no verdicts because many
of them refused to be judged by fictitious tribunals, others are still waiting
to pass the period of their false verdicts. The prisoners are exposed to
barbarian torture. No one stopped the violence, which does not belong to this
century and caused uncounted physical and psychological deformations,
especially, the isolated prisoners from the world in the
According to who knew the
On 13.8.2001, the Arab
Commission for Human Rights sent a letter to the Commissioner of Human Rights
and the team of works for arbitrary detention. The letter requested "a
quick intervention to close the prison of
Annex No. 11 includes the response of the Arab Commission on the Syrian official report, which gave an idea about the illegal arbitrary repression and the citizens who were arbitrarily detained in the new age. Some of these newly detained were seven young men, who destroyed a statue of Hafez Assad in Kudsaia, on 28.6.2000, just after the death of Assad, and were arrested on the same night. Although two of them were under the age of maturity, they were, violently, tortured and prohibited from receiving visits for seven months, then, they were transferred to the State Security Court and accused of antagonizing the revolution. Also, they were exposed to many defaming accusations like, homosexuality and other charges, which were elicited under torture by force. Until today, they are still in the prison of Adra waiting for the verdict of the exceptional court.
Another example is about a
prisoner of Iraqi origin, who was not charged with any accusation. Even though,
he was not exposed to torture like the other prisoners, he suffered a lot in
the branch of
The well-known political struggler, Riad Al Turk, secretary-general of the Syrian Communist Party-political office, submitted a lecture in the forum of Jamal Atasi on 5.8.2001. He found that there were "three matters, which developed during the new age but remained small and dull:
1 - The relative retreat of fear. The fear that was connected to the social and political life in our country made the citizen unable to express his opinion and say other than his thoughts. The citizen was afraid to show interest in the general affairs and imagined any strange person a secret agent who might lead him to the darkness of the used basements. Although the retreat of fear occurred among the intellectual and political elite, and did not reach to the common social groups, but this is an important step and much better than what we witnessed during long hard years.
2 - The methods, activities and rough interference of the bodies of security in the daily life of citizens have changed, especially, after the absence of detentions, which we suffered from so much before. It is noticed that the main function of security at present is investigating through observing, questioning and calling. Probably, the intensified investigations are used instead of detention in order to practice some of the security's repressional functions and creating psychological pressures upon the individuals and society, or to be ready for attack in case the former positions would return as they dream.
3 - The authority confirmed that the political reformation must wait for reforming the important economical matters first, because they affect the life of the citizens. However, the citizens did not find any important improvements and doubted the seriousness of any change. We can feel the intentions for making economical reformations through the issued or studied decrees. Despite of our view, the decrees refer to the direction of restoration. At the same time, they are a small step forward because, practically, nothing has been achieved yet. While they seemed extemporary sometimes, the bodies of the regime were very stubborn resistants to any change, directly, or through bureaucracy, administrative retardation and poor qualified officials who used to dominate and obtain advantages on the expense of the public benefit".
According to the lecturer, these simple steps are accompanied with big problems. "In brief, the position in our country is a comprehensive stagnant crisis, retarded with closed prospects in the political, social and economical fields. No social-political powers appeared that could fulfill through actions and activities the needs of the country. Until now, the capitalist groups, who have benefit in developing the economy, did not submit their programs nor organize their powers, except some limited individual attempts. Also, in spite of the "convention of honor" that was submitted by the Muslim Brotherhood from abroad, which represented a promising and new step, the Islamic powers did not review their presentations and practices or started serious assistance. Besides, the democratic opposition did not mobilize its powers enough to initiate a program and activity that fulfills the aims of the public and transforms the worries about the reality and future into a creative modifying role.
The current political case could be described as "the balance of weakness", in which a part of it depends on the exchanged fear, instead of the expression "the balance of power". Now, all the existing powers are weak, whether within the regime or the opposition. This case requires an extra effort to incline from the stable rigid attitudes and find an exit. The question is whether last year is the first year of an age, which attempts to be new and different, or is it just a year following the former thirty years and its number is 31...?"
If the achievements, in spite of their importance, are not enough, they also suffer from "three dangerous weak points", as Yaseen Al Haj Saleh expressed in his lecture in the Left Forum for Dialogue, dated 7.7.2001. "First, the attainments were not organized, slow and disorderly directed. For example, so much time and efforts were wasted in useless discussions that contradicted the legitimacy of the civil society's concept, whether the priority was to build the state first or not, or to start with the political reformation instead of the economical one or the contrary. Thus, even before the authority started its contra attacks last February, the achievements were much weaker to support strong new tendencies. Second, The accomplishments remained marginal and did not transform into social fixed backgrounds. For example, releasing the political dΕtentes did not mean the release of policy. Third, 75% of the public remained away from the new movements. The rest, 25%, were considered the probable mass for activities; thus, the actual effective cadres might not exceed 1%".
According to the lecturer,
Mr. Saleh, the above mentioned facts refer to the weakness of the Syrian
democratic movement or its laborious birth, mainly, because until now there was
no strong morale commandments emerged in
Mr. Saleh did not only analyze the disease, but also called the democratic intellectuals and the opponents who wanted modifications to work on the following:
1 - Insisting on transition to openness, rejecting secrecy and criticizing it.
2 - Organizing initiatives for mutual work, such as, statements, petitions, forums, newspapers and others.
3 - Submitting a detailed economical and social program that exceeds the intrusive democratic speech for consumption.
Also, he considers that
inviting more people for the national reconciliation is very important.
According to this doctor, who spent a long time in prison like the other two mentioned persons, "the quite and peaceful diversion that, gradually, turns the totalitarian state into a democratic state, preserves the national unity and terminates the restraints from the social movements is demanded. To have a state of right and law, the esteem of the state must be reconsidered through its reconciliation with the society and the sovereignty of law. Also, there must be a transition from the state of invasion, domination, tribalism and corruption to the state of contract between free citizens, who are ungoverned by deficiency and eternal custody. Would the citizens witness a real reformation to the structure of the state that paves the way for the future?".
Due to our presentation of
the recent emerging developments about the discussions and the stumbles that
occurred during the first year of the new age in
At the beginning, the lecturer suggests to "look for truth and justice, including apologies to those, who were exposed and their parents to terrorism, imprisonment, homicide and dislodgement. Also, to release all the political prisoners and terminate pursuing them, to permit all the expelled and abducted individuals to return home to their families and jobs, and to uncover the numbers of lost people and compensate their families. Besides, to cancel the state of emergency, martial laws and exceptional courts, plus, to terminate the deprivation of civil rights and travel. Then, to return back the movable and immovable properties, the confiscated and the stolen, and compensate the original owners for the damages and losses. The bodies of security must assume back their legal and national functions and terminate dominating the public, eliminate the corrupted and criminal cadres, issuing clear laws to end torture and all material and morale means of duress, as well as, imposing strict punishments for violating that. Finally, freedoms of opinion and expression must be released to develop naturally.
Secondly, Mr. Turk urges to look for the foundation of dialogue, its elements, participants and all the interested individuals in the general affairs like, oppositions, supporters and intellectuals. So, to start practicing dialogue without containing, exploiting, flattering or others, but to resume modern, open and courageous practices without using concealed or secret weapons, authoritative maneuvers or the opponents.
Thirdly, he encourages adopting the principle of national reconciliation between the authority and people, as well as, the regime and the oppositions. This needs trust, which can be achieved by practical steps that consolidate the tendencies for reconciliation, beside the retreat of antagonism, fear and vengeance intentions.
Fourthly, there should be an exchangeable recognition between all the sides. All the powers must advance to act and have the will to change the position. Al Ba'ath Party must attempt to reform itself, as well as, the Parties of the front, the democratic national assembling, the Islamic movements and others to become organized as long as society needs that.
Fifthly, he demands forming a program of democratic national change in which its structure, organization and timing accord with the objective modern needs and the national benefit. Also, to enter a transitional stage in which the freedoms develop, the differences regulate in the national frame, the parties and civil associations flourish, legally and liberally, besides, the free press returns back, the law prevails and the citizenship prospers. (...) in order to reach a democratic national system based on a modern constitution, which guarantees that despotism would never impede the future of the country".
The publication of this
book is stopped, for a second time, for new adjustments, which are connected
this time to Mr. Riad Al Turk. Unfortunately, the remainder of our optimism, which
was shrinking gradually during the last months, is lost now after we were
informed that the secretary-general of the communist Party, Mr. Turk, has been
On 5.9.2001, the Syrian newspapers issued a declaration from a judicial source, which announced the arrestment of Riad Al Turk and referred him to the judiciary. Some newspapers condemned him for "attacking the authority and attempting to impede the path of freedom and democracy". Al Ba'ath newspaper wrote: "Whenever the authority applies the sovereignty of law by the name of a fair judicial system to secure the citizens, the rioters transform into patients who need all the doctors of the world to treat them... They wrongly thought that tolerance meant disengagement and transparency meant transgressing the country and its security... We do not find it strange that by the name of liberty, they have the right to contact the Israeli enemy or accord with its racist project". However, the democratic national assembly had declared in a statement the following: "this detention is not a personal and a unique event but a letter directed to the assembly and all those who care for releasing the country from the comprehensive national crisis. Also, it is directed to the public opinion, so that it won't exceed, what was named by the authorities, the red lines".
Five days later, after the
detention of the lawyer Riad Al Turk, Mr. Riad Saif, MP, the organizer of the
National Dialogue's forum and the member of human rights' committee, was
detained on 6.9.2001. This detention happened in the following day after
reopening the forum and holding a meeting. Soon, the representative of Jamal
Atasi's forum for democratic dialogue declared that "we have warned last
April about the danger of oppressing the forums and announced that we are a
non-separated part of the political, social and cultural movements. We said
that a rose does not create spring, but we would not stop the activity of our
forum and we will resist in our place until all the activists return to their
places. When Mr. Riad Saif announced about resuming the activities of his forum
for national dialogue on
Three days later, on 9.9.2001, six other persons were detained: Dr. Aref Daleela and Dr. Waleed Al Bunni, members in the committees for the revival of civil society. Also, Dr. Kamal Al Labwani, a member of the forum for national dialogue, besides, Mr. Habeeb Saleh, Mr. Hassan Sa'doon and Mr. Hussein Heda. We received information about a list of thirty Syrian intellectuals under arrest, which the Regional Leadership, branches of security and the Presidential Palace had discussed it before.
At the same time, the
Syrian newspapers continued their propaganda against "who did not know the
tradition of dialogue well", as they were called by Al Ba'ath newspaper.
The reports complained from the delay of applying the legal procedures against
"who violated the law and abused the tendency to consolidate
freedoms". This delay is due to the "rooted tolerance of our culture
and general consciousness". The newspaper added that "the public
opinion, inside and outside
On 12.9.2001, there was a
new launch of detention that, unfortunately, started again a month and a half
earlier. The lawyer Habeeb Isa, a founder member of the Association for Human
After all these detentions, which do not seem to stop soon, can we talk about divergences, modifications and reformations any more? Security dominated policy, clearly, hence it reflected the existence of big problems within the executive authority that were interpreted through such unexpected inflexibility and escalation. Do we see, now, new signs of repeating the violent bloody experiences, which are still bleeding and the Syrian society still pays high costs for them until today?
Finally, any person who
follows the Syrian positions can conclude from the mentioned above the
tremendous obstacles against diversion. Also, a person can perceive the gaps
that face the collective research in such conditions. We wanted this work to
pave the way for further prospects that continue our work. I would like to
thank so much all those who helped for the accomplishment of this work, without
mentioning their names. They all endured the results of their assistance
through the conditions of oppression on the levels of researching, field
research, supplying information, documenting, translating, secretarial works
and other. Without doubts, positive criticism enriches this work and
consolidates its aim, which is a small brick in constructing the democratic
project and the state of law in
* * *
The Opinion... and the Sword
The Mechanisms of Possessing the State
And Reinforcing the Authority
Jad Al Kareem Al Jeba'i(*)
Many expressions are used
to describe the type of authority's system in countries like
Researching about a certain specific case, such as the Syrian case, requires checking the above mentioned terms and other terms according to the actual events and phenomena. Still, using any of these terms clarifies the writers' attitude toward the meant regime, also, implies an ideological element, which is imposed by the sense of the term and its functional criterion. Obviously, the complete "objectivity" is so difficult or rather impossible to be obtained, as well as, the complete 'neutrality', because in all the human sciences and criterions there is a personal subjective element, which could not be ignored.
Due to state's incorporation in its controlling regime, we are inclined to use the concept of "dominating state" or "suzerain state". This means that the state transforms from a political form of social existence, which represents the social completeness, into an absolute subjugating regime, which makes the governmental organizations and the society structures just an expansion of it. Thus, the limits of the state and the limits of the authority become identical, also, both lose their political characteristics. A suzerain state is declined to a lower grade than a political state, it is a tool of compel and theft; accordingly, its people become sort of a subject and a material for theft and compel, but with all false grandness and magnificence. On the other hand, the use of the term 'suzerain rule' is tempting because, in Arabic language, it is linguistically, similar to the Sultanic rule of old Arabic history(1).
Khaldoon Hasan Al Nakeeb
believed that the historical origin of the dominating state was the
bureaucratic state, which was born at the beginning of last century, during the
Romantic period that succeeded the Renaissance period. It had two trends, the
political trend in
The three elements: radicalism, publicist and nationalistic spirit grew in the modern bureaucratic state and produced the Liberal state and the suzerain state, which depended on the grade of the dominating elements' growth, according to its pyramidal arrangement and bureaucratic system. Probably, the separation of the authorities, people's observance of the rule, sovereignty of law, equality of citizens and the emergence of the authority from people were the main factors which delimited the development of subjugating elements in liberal countries.
We can say that the
historical origin of the dominating state was the state of the organizations'
age, which meant the
The modern bureaucratic state of the west is the newborn government of the civil modern society and modern thoughts. Still, there are mutual elements among all types of dominating states, mainly:
1) The monopolization of all power, authority and wealth, besides, the penetration into civil society in order to organize its structure and absorb its power.
2) Bureaucratizing the economy, through extending the public sector, and making it as a private proprietorship for those who direct it, or executing a new sort of feudalism.
3) The establishment of ruling system legitimacy upon power, overcoming and duress, by means of organized terrorism and generalized repression.
This suzerain state depends on three basics:
- One) The dominating elite, civil or military, or one ruling Party.
- Two) Bureaucratic pyramid that relies on the principle of personal devotion.
- Three) Paralleled structures, such as, tribal, sectarian, ethnic and professional solidarity.
The suzerain state in the third world has, in general, a distinguished middle class culture, or a consumption culture. Actually, these classes live in the margin of the social production operation, they have a distinguished environment of society masses' environments and a distinguished culture of masses' cultures(3), which are supplied intensively by all means of directed media that praises the ideology of the ruling group. Also, this state has a distinguished economy, which is the capitalism of the depending state(4).
The Environment of the Suzerain Authority:
Nakeeb defined the suzerain rule as a despotic rule, which is built on the mastery of the bureaucratic state upon the society by extending its capacities to organize the underneath structures. So, it penetrates the civil society, completely, and makes it an expansion of its authority. Thus, the regime would be able to execute the effective monopolization of power and authority resources in the society. Usually, the resources of power and authority are restricted in the economical power, crowds' multitude power and the organizational power.
This definition, in spite
of its importance, ignored the historical span of the social, economical,
political and cultural factors which produced such a type of ruling in the Arab
world, in general, and
First, let us say that, in general, bureaucracy is an important element in the state, especially, in the modern state. The dominating despotic element, which is implicit in each organizing order, progresses forward with the growth of bureaucracy's capacity to organize the social structure and absorb its power. Generally, this accords with the modern centralized bureaucratic state. The "historical retardation" provides for the despotic element a suitable environment to grow. This environment is the climate of the social political patriarchal system, the knowledgeable type or system and the relating virtual system. This, of course, facilitates the reproduction of the classical ruling type of Sultans characteristics, which rely on dependency, loyalty, gifts and privileges in a new modern and contemporary way.
One more important external element is added to both previous elements, which is related to the capitalistic expansion after the 1st World War. The expansion was clarified in our countries by the imperialistic phenomenon, which unified the world paradoxically, deepened the polarization between the center and the sides, and generalized it on the world level. The operation of unification was and continues to be paradoxical and depends on margined integration, or containing and eliminating at the same time. Therefore, the authorities of dependent countries became a part of the global capitalistic system. They have the function of "brokers" between their countries and the capitalistic market. Besides, having the function of the weaker partners in stealing the wealth and the power of their nations' labor.
Although imperialism generalized thoughts, ideologies and created organizations for the bureaucratic state in the entire world, it prevented the establishment of democratic independent constitutional nationalistic states in depending countries. It also, did not permit the accomplishment of an independent national progress in these countries; moreover, it weakened the democratic nationalistic states of developed countries for the benefit of the great powerful countries and the monopolizing multinational firms. Accordingly, the dominating state is a retarded capitalistic state, or a retarded capitalized and dependent country. In other words, as Yaseen Hafez said, the dominating state is a retarded incorporated government with the global system, which would reform it and restrict its structure and function. Thus, the secession of the dominating state from the society, which is supposed to have produced it, is the result of incorporation and neglect, or containment and elimination. On one hand, being a dependent capitalist and having the brokerage, "comprador", function, the dominating authority is incorporated within the global capitalistic system, on the other hand, due to its nationalism or nationalist, it is eliminated from the system. Actually, it also applies this paradoxical mechanism through its relation with its society. In its country, the dominating state incorporates the social powers including their economical, multiplicity and organizational characteristics, and deports the powers of social and political characteristics.
The dominating regime unties the social groups and re-organizes them in a way that enables it to penetrate through society, paralyzes its effectiveness and controls its capacities. Therefore, the authority becomes a transcendental structure outside the society. The increase of the governmental interference in the society and economy for achieving social care, increases its authoritative power and its possibilities of accomplishing the effective monopolization of power and authority resources in the society(5). This general rule does not define, only, distinctions of grades between the dominating state and the modern bureaucratic state, which pay attention to social services and citizens' welfare, in fact, the interference policy of the dominating state does not look for citizens' welfare, nor protect their rights or security. Accurately, the dominating government is the disease of modern bureaucracy and nationalistic tendency at the same time.
In spite of the mutual
characteristics and features, the modern bureaucratic sample of state, even
with its Fascist or Nazi forms, could not be projected on the sample of the
totalitarian government, like the
1) Power, or imperialistic powers do not attach the penetrated system to its political system, completely, but it never allows it to escape from its suffocative control.
2) The penetrated system, therefore, remains continuously, facing the imperialistic powers. This unbalanced confrontation exhausts its resources and increases its rotten interior conditions.
3) In this penetrated system, the local political, provincial, national and international matters become all mixed together. Thus, the political system could not be understood without returning to the suzerain imperialistic powers.
4) This penetrated system is often, a political game played by local social, provincial and international powers in exchangeable and changeable alliances. So, political and social powers might often be local extensions of provincial and international powers. This position is, mainly, related to the range of imperialistic deep penetration.
Accordingly, in this position many matters emerge like religious, sectarian, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural and linguistic. These matters arise in political forms, which imply pressuring powers that demand to share in political representations. Some of these powers look for independent rule or independent direction, or secession. This is called politicizing the minorities' matter.
These symptoms that attack the penetrated political systems are the special forms of dependency, which its chief elements are lack of freedom, independence and sovereignty. It is a dependency, which results from the power relationships that the global system and the type of international relations are build upon. The penetrated political system can not be self-initiative to solve its interior problems. Besides, the ruling groups have restricted freedom to take strategic decisions, independently, from the suzerain external powers. Still, the decisive factor is always related to the interior positions, the ability of the social powers for penetration and the grade of the historical retardation effects.
The writer believes that
the suzerain authority in
Actually, the dominating
state emerged in the climate of the retreating project of the national rising. In the climate of a shameful debacle against
1) The elimination of the nationalistic project, the embryo of the state, besides, the retrogression before the state period, such as, tribal rule, troop rule and sectarian rule.
2) Also, the elimination or
splitting of the retarded socialism to the benefit of the miraculous retarded
capitalism, which combined the consumption expenditure and the subservient
begging at petroleum tents. Thus, a new class emerged from the
3) Since the debacle of June 1967, the ancestral domain of the traditional ideology started to expand, notably. Also, the sectarian political conflicts, whether concealed or exploding, which a number of Arab countries suffer from, became sectarian ideologies that supported the ancestral traditional ideologies. It loosened and cut the national ties among people, besides, presented the matter of minorities as an urgent and bursting matter(7).
The Arabic government in all its forms, such as, parliamentary, revolutionary, autocratic and military, which were enveloped during the imperialistic invasion with a semi-modern cover, remained of a traditional structure in its essence. The distinguished feature of such a country of these structures not, only, make it above the society, but also, provides an incorporation between the authority and those who practice it. This government, which has Arabic political traditions of theocratic type, still thrusts into the ideology of the motionless mass of the nation. Consequently, the pasteurizing feeling toward the government is the prevailing one among the most backward parts of the nation. On the other hand, the parts of the nation, which are less backward did not reach the extent to be stubborn fighters, thus, their rejection became expressed through withdrawal and introversion, in case of acceptance, they supported but did not participate. So, such a state opens the chances for any minority to practice a permanent domination. In retarded societies, the conflicts over authority are considered "politics", in which the most powerful minority of people overcomes the rest. Thus, by canceling the people's political life, the operations of modernizing politics becomes deactivated and impedes democratizing. This means that the individual's transformation into a member in the state becomes obstructed(8).
The Debacle of June 1967
was neither just a military defeat in front of
- The separation of the rule from the people.
- The separation of the state from society.
- The stagnancy of society.
- The coagulation of society's internal history.
- The domination of the traditional ideology, which supported dependency.
- The compliance, the deficiency, withdrawal and fear.
- The fears from nature, government, truth, freedom.
- The fear from self-confrontation and reality encountering, and fear from the future.
One prominent feature of Mamaleek/ Ottoman age was that 'Freedom' did not exist and could not grow except outside the state and in opposition to it. Therefore, we Arabs did not share the rest of the nations' festivity of freedom, except in burying it. The dominating rule started and grew in the climate of the debacle, which was transformed by the advanced speech into a magnificent victory. The "advanced" systems lied to its nations, then believed its lie and obliged the nation to believe the lie. Except Jamal Abed Al Nasser, who confessed his defeat, announced his responsibility and resigned from the presidency. Later, due to the pressure of the crowds' movement, he withdrew his resignation.
The historical retardation, especially the nationalistic splitting, combined with the political and ideological retardation, plus, the imperialistic penetration with the incoming bureaucracy from the modern liberal government. Also, the arriving totalitarianism from socialism, which was supported by the revolutionary coup d`etat ideology and deepened capitalistic expansion. Besides, the international polarizing between north and south on one side, and capitalism, free world and socialism, led by the Soviets, on the other. All these factors combined to produce a suitable environment for the growth of the dominating authority.
Possessing the State and Assorting the Structures of the Society - The 8th of March Revolution in 1963:
The Military order No. 2
was the announcement of the State of
After a couple of days, the Council was expanded and joined a number of civilians, like Michel Aflak, Salah Aldeen Al Bittar and Mansure Al Attrash, beside three leaders of the Nasseri groups. The new civil members had no effective role in the Council. According to Patrick Seal, who interpreted what M. Attrash said, "the soldiers let us talk, but we discovered later that they, formerly agreed, within themselves, about the procedures of their decisions"(10). Patrick Seal added, "the first days of the revolution were spent for bargaining about the ranks and how to be divided between the different military groups. These matters were discussed in long meetings, which often needed whole nights"(11).
Unlike the former military
coups d`etat that occurred in Syria in which the military interfered to
terminate the political conflicts between the competing powers, the 8th of
March revolution delivered the country to the military. Accordingly, the army
turned from an essential power for the rule, into the essential power of the
rule. Therefore, as much as the military started to be politicized and became a
dogmatic army, politics started to militarize as well. According to some former
Ba'athi cadres, the civil Party wing was weak with a small number, which at the
time of the revolution did not exceed 400 members or much less. Antoin Makdesi
referred that the number of civil members was much less than the mentioned one.
He wrote in his second letter to the President of Syria on
In addition to announcing
the State of
After clearing up the Army
of the "Damascusi Officers", who did the coup d`etat on the 28th of
September in 1962, the Nasseri Officers had to be cleared up, too, then the
non-adherent Ba'athi Officers. That was because some Nasseri officers, led by
Jasem Alwan, tried to make another coup d`etat on
Patrick Seal pointed that "within four violent months loaded with bloody events, starting from March 1963, Assad and his friends in the military committee destroyed all the organized resistance against their rule, which they practiced behind the screen. Almost, from the first moment, they had to govern by the "force of power" and not with "agreement", probably, because they were a military group that split from a semi-dead Party and without a public base. The experience of these early days affected their attitudes during all the succeeding years. Even after the Party grew and became big and strong, they could not get rid of cautiousness and repression habits"(13).
The widest elimination
attack, which included adherent Ba'athi to the Nationalist Leadership, was
after the 23rd of February movement in 1966. About 400 officers and employees
were expelled, beside the imprisonment of Ameen Al Hafez, Mohammed Omran and
their adherent leaders at the Central prison of Mazzeh. As well as, the
detention of thirty old Ba'athi members, like Salah Al Bitar, Mansure Al
Attrash and Shebli Al Aisami, plus, Lebanese, Saudi and Jordanian members of
the Nationalist Leadership, who were kept in the Guest House at Baghdad St., a
well known street in Damascus. Michel Aflak left
The first effective monopolization of power was, first, the monopolization of the military and security powers, then the power of the governmental organizations. During the operation of constructing the dogmatic army, then, the operation of Ba'athisizing the state were increasingly deepening, the masses were noticeably careless. Due to the Party's growth and the increase of its members, it was easy to understand the people's carelessness and rejection. Also, the public organizations, which included big masses, were negatively supporting instead of positively participating, or stayed with complete carelessness toward what was going on in the country including what related to their own living conditions, civil rights and fundamental freedoms. The first Regional Conference, which was held after the revolution of September in 1963, was an important turning point at the procession of Al Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party. In fact, Akram Al Horani and his supporters left the Party, beside the Nasseri' split. The Regional Conference was a preparation for the 6th Nationalist Conference in October 1963. The Regional Conference had a Leftist mark; it confirmed the principle of "The Party is the leader of the State and society". It legalized the army's interference with politics and considered that the political dogmatism of the army was as important as the military training. At that conference, it was decided to mobilize the masses by public organizations of workers, farmers and free professions, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers and others, beside the youth, students and women's organizations. The Party controlled all these organizations and they became the devices of building the national democracy, which opened the way for the socialist diversion.
The leftist trend became a
general tendency after the 23rd of February movement, led by Salah Jedeed, who
became the first man in the State. Still, he did not have any official rank
other than regional assistant secretary of the Party, then, Assad appointed him
as Minister of Defense. Both leaders paid all their attention, first, toward
the Party and the government, which became the State of
Patrick Seal said that the system came out after three years of conflict over the authority, which succeeded the 8th of March movement. Then, the expulsion of Nasseris, the suppression of the Right and religious opposition in Hama 1964 and the removal of Ba'athi old generation, made the atmosphere clear for the military committee to govern. Until that time, the military committee was the central institution through which the officers imposed their will. In 1966, after Omran left, the committee weakened and lost its effectiveness because officers monopolized the government institution, besides, there was no more need for secret conferences(14).
The conflict over authority occurred on two fronts, one front was inside the Party, the other one was facing the competitors and the opposition from outside the Party. In both fronts, the military was the fundamental decisive power. After each confrontation there remained some less dangerous or unimportant groups, during the passage of time they all converted to the negative opposition at the civil and military sectors.
What made the officers, cadres of the Party and high-rank employees have an honest loyalty to that leader or the other? Was it partial dogmatic bigotry, or class bigotry, or sectarian bigotry, or directional bigotry? Or, were there other reasons more objective, especially that the competitive leaders were, often, from the same Party and the same class or sector and trend?
The reason of loyalty might be due to the privileges that the leader would give to his followers or the benefits that the leader would allow them to get, in addition to the temptation of authority and prestige. Patrick Seal said that "after the debacle of June 1967, Assad understood, thus, solidity replaced his delights, since that time he decided to develop his personal base within the armed forces. As the tribal chiefs do, Assad polarized his loyalty through rendering services, offering gifts and improving the conditions of his friends". Thus gradually, the authority diverted into a source of wealth, power and prestige, according to the need of the followers and supporters.
Morally, the privileged cadres might have deserved what they gained because of their services to the country, which its frontiers shrank to be equal to the restrictions of the Party and authority. In the absence of law, the absence of the interrogation principle, the deformed organizations and the immobilized powers, the privileges, gifts and theft became the base of the authority. We can add that all bigotry met at one point, the private benefit, which gradually, replaced the general benefit. Therefore, the political denotations depended on personal benefits, so that the principles and foundations of the Sultanic government were repeated. According to Mohammed Abed Al Jaberi, these principles were, already, settled in the political unconsciousness as, "Tribe, Faith and Gaining". Flee from authority, or Sultanic government, or the dominating authority was repeated. Fleeing might be an escape form the authority or running to it. Those who escaped to it wanted either to avoid its harm or to gain its benefits; they became the masses of the ruler, his aura and his devotees. Still, they were not safe of tyranny, repression and terrorism, they were always, obliged to prove their loyalty through "bootlicking" and hypocrisy, or by denunciating friends, relatives, work companions and neighbors.
On the other hand, fleeing from the authority was clarified by joining the Party or the paralleled organizations, such as, Ba'ath Vanguards, Union of Youth's Revolution, Union of Women. Also, Sportive Union, Farmers Union, Workers General Union, Writers Union, the Union of Journalists and other professional unions, which were, completely, dominated by the Party and the security agencies. The society was subjugated to a revolutionary diversion from the pastoral position into the mass position. The main feature of the mass's position was the negative support and the conditional response, like Pavlov's dog response, which responded to the clear and symbolic orders of the authority.
The suzerain state depends on three bases that enable it to produce its society of masses, which are terrorism, ideology and the directed propaganda. These bases are consolidated by three principles:
- The first is the effective monopolization, which means monopolizing authority, wealth and power, besides, monopolizing the truth and nationality.
- The second is the principle of overcoming and duress.
- The third principle is the personification of authority and worshiping power, which means that the person and his rank become incorporated. Also, the moral and material power of the rank is transferred to the person who becomes the ideal grandeur of power and influence. In this case, orders replace laws, privileges replace rights, and loyalties and devotions replace qualifications and merits.
In order to clarify the vision of the suzerain state and its comprehensive span, each one of these bases and principles needs a special study. In fact, they all combine to produce what is so called settlement and continuity, which have no other meaning than preserving the actual conditions and obliging the people to believe all the falsifications.
Due to former monopolization, the society and the nation become useless and exceed the needs. Actually, it is not possible to have a ruler without ruled people, or an authority without a nation, or a State without a society. This tragic paradox or the Black Tragedy (The authority's dispense and need for the nation) explains the authority's neglect and contempt of the people. The authority considers the nation incapable and believes to maintain it as a subject for its will and complete capacity. The authority, which is able to interpret the progress of illusion, can cancel plurality, variety and opposition, also, oblige the reality to yield to whatever ideology disciplined by the "General".
A Society without Classes:
The Agrarian Reform dropped the big proprietors and divided the confiscated lands among farmers. This led to the increase of small and middle proprietors. The decisions of the "Socialist" Nationalization dropped the rising national Bourgeois. Thus, the government, gradually, converted into a big proprietor, a unique industrialist, a wholesaler and retailer and a manager of the rising working class, which widened due to developing the capitalism of the dependent state. The Middle-class became distributed vertically according to its loyalty or opposition to the authority. Therefore, it was divided between a ruling group and masses, in which the ruling group split into masters and dependents. Masters were the Bourgeois of the upper authority, civil and military, the dependents and the followers of the dependents and who depended on the dependents, until the bottom of the pyramid, were the masses.
Nationalization was an elimination of the working class and cancellation of its political and social role rather than a socialist act.
This destroyed any class' solidarity among workers and farmers, or among poor rural people and the poor city people to face the joint liability of proprietors and managers. The government presented itself as a representative of these classes and decided their dissolution before they were culturally and politically identified. The procession of neglecting them quickened according to the growth of the dominating authority and the transfer of social power from the society organizations into the governmental organizations, which converted by time into security institutions.
At the same time, there was a growing Aristocratic class of workers, farmers and medium Bourgeois, all protected and supervised by security agencies. The main features of such Aristocracy were corruption and virtual loose, but the national socialist ideology was its cover and justification. Day after day, the gap between the new Aristocracy and its supporting masses widened much more than the gap between the worker and his Bourgeois manager. Therefore, the working class and the drudged masses turned into a troop of slaves. The cancellations of Party, rural and workers aristocracy, which was a new class with mutual benefits, encountered the cancellation of classes or social groups. The serial elimination of these classes made their members slaves for the authority, because the slavery system would never create a free class. Thus, workers, rural and poor city people became slaves of the slaves. This is the main phenomenon of political, cultural and social negligence. The dominating authority does not accept the existence of united and unified privileged groups or classes, it only, accepts privileged individuals. Consequently, the opponents could not depend on organized and unified classes or groups of mutual benefits. Actually, by shattering and dividing, the dominating authority creates a crowed of isolated and competitive individuals, which their benefits relay on denouncing each other and withdrawing from the general affairs. Force or reality accuses each one, so, a person has to face the accusation by dropping it on others, also by adulating the ruler to convince him of his innocence and prove his loyalty. Thus, the individual becomes besieged from inside and outside and driven into a series of useless practices, which increase his self-despise and isolation. These futility practices, in fact, are blind instinctive responses toward an existing possible danger and violence. The violence of the dominating authority is not only directed to the opposition but could be, irrationally, practiced with everyone. In such a system, each individual is possibly considered an opposition and an objective enemy. Terrorism always presumes more illusions, more secret agencies and more detectives.
This explains the cancer progress of security institutions. These institutions have the complete freedom to interfere directly with citizens' detailed life, on all levels of administration and activities. If these institutions did not enrich enough through stealing from the government, they enrich by stealing and blackmailing their victims, beside sharing the activities, which they were supposed to control, like gambling, prostitution, smuggling and drug trade. This made the security institution a sort of state within a State, which was established by terrorism, blackmailing, corruption and corrupting.
These institutions transformed the society into the society of exchanged fear and doubts, plus, subjugating the society's concepts into their measures and virtual scales. Their essential functions might be and still are to control the plurality of the society and the infinite varieties and differences among human creatures in order to make them similar copies which resemble a mono totalitarian creature. This is impossible unless all citizens are diminished into one fixed and empty identity, which is constituted of instinctive reactions, plus, declining their freedom for the sake of preserving their kind.
The political terrorism and the political detention with all the accompanying body torture and psychological oppression, severely, affected the ruining of the human relationships. Besides, penetrating the society and destroying all its forms of resistance transformed it into a kind of big Holocaust. Hanna Arndt said: "the first fundamental step for complete control is to kill in the person his legal self, then, to kill his virtual self, after that, ruining the individual is accomplished"(15).
Converting classes or social groups into masses and canceling any solidarity or unification between groups are two obligatory provisions for full despotism(16). The transfer from pastorals into masses is a transfer from uncovered pauperization and misery into disguised pauperization and poverty, also, from a frank slavery into a flowering one. According to Aristotle, a slave is the one whose spirit weakened; wits declined and annexed his self to others. Besides, a slave is the body, the ox and the tool of his Master. According to the writer of this report, he believes that the "dependent" is a body without spirit or mind nor conscience. In fact, everything in the state or society exists in the individual, by force or reality, so, what does this mean if the individual is a body without spirit or mind nor conscience?
Actually, the society of masses and a dominating authority, or totalitarian, is a society and authority without spirit, or mind, nor conscience! The extinguished spirit, resigned mind, dead conscience and the deprivation of meaning are the most prominent productions of the dominating authority, at the same time, the most important provisions for its settlement and continuity. The dominating state is a meaningless authority because all its speeches and acts are meaningless. The 'meaning' is constituted of speech and action. Thus, a dominating authority can not produce the provisions of its settlement and continuity unless it slays the human spirit, blocks the voice of mind and executes the conscience and assassinates the meaning.
The prevailing corruption, which some people might consider it an incidental extraordinary phenomenon, and a disease, which could be treated without changing the structure and function of the government, is the direct tangible result of the authority' settlement and continuity. The changes of the state' structure and function do not mean overthrowing the actual regime but retaining the state, as well as, canceling its partition feature, being the state of the leading Party, and gradually, transforming it into a political state, which expresses the social wholeness. This means transforming it into a State of rights and law without discriminations or exceptions among citizens, and reviewing the production of its functional social types. The writer of this report believes that the existing authority and Al Ba'ath Party could assist effectively in the grand historic conversion by transforming the authority into a political authority, and the leading Party into a political Party in a modern contemporary meaning of politics(17).
The democratic freedoms are
based on the equality of law between all the citizens; besides, the social
justice becomes the actual practice of equality. Thus, these freedoms would not
have a meaning and function unless the citizens, according to their social
environment, belong to groups who represent them and form within themselves a
social and political pyramid. Therefore, citizens would belong, voluntarily and
rationally, to free organizations and groups, which are produced by society
that express its effectiveness and activities. These political organizations,
associations and groups, beside other civil organizations could not be really
free unless all their members are free. Freedom, here, is under the provision
of law and responsibility. Thus, the collapse of the social classes' system,
which means the evacuation of the only political and social base of the modern
state' structure, was one of the most tragic events in the history of nations.
This event occurred in a primitive, barbarian and tyrannical way. The conflicts
of the social classes do not always terminate by the victory of one class and
the deterioration of the other; actually, they may terminate by the collapse of
all the conflicting groups. The conflicts in our country as in many other
countries terminated with the collapsing of all the conflicting groups(18). This collapse
corresponded to the rise of Fascism in
The Indications of Reformation:
After all what we said, is
it possible to reform? Yes, it is possible and it is a duty. The radical
corruption needs a radical reformation. As the writer believes,
Naturally, reformation is gradual, slow and sometimes painful. Reformations differ, the authority reformation with its own known devices and machinery would lead into the reproduction of the system with some improvement here and there. This will reproduce the same crisis, which will have no exit other than a radical reformation. The radical reformation occurs when the efforts of the authority and the nation combine, as well as, the positive participation of all the groups and powers of the society. This reformation would lead the country to exceed the present toward renaissance and progress. There is no third choice because all this corruption and ruin could not be canceled without a historical action on the same level of its danger and challenges.
The writer claims that the feelings of necessity for reformation were growing slowly within some spheres of the authority, which deafened during a long time and did not hear the voice of the nation, especially, the voice of the intellectuals and the employees of the public field. These spheres felt the stiffness of the governmental articulations and the prevailing corruption in all the levels of the public administration, which became its distinguished characteristics. Also, they felt the rusty ideological project of the authority, "the nationalist socialist ideology", the aggravation of the economical crisis, the bankruptcy of the public economical sector, except the oil sector, which is considered a prohibited secrecy. Before the death of the former president, Hafez Assad, there were rumors about opening the files of corruption. Many names of prominent corrupted personalities were mentioned, which included high-rank employees in all the commanding sectors. Therefore, the former Prime Minister, Mahmod Al Zu'bi was accused of corruption and was abstained from work. There were conversations about a project of reformation held by Dr. Bashar Assad, which one of its headlines was to control corruption.
In this climate, cultural
gathering nucleuses of political spans started to be formed. They spread in all
the cities and Syrian regions, especially, in
The Seminar of the
Economical Tuesday, organized by the Syrian Economical Association had an important
role. It uncovered the factors and features of the economical crisis, its
morals, political and social effects in the society, plus, the aggravated
resulting effects of the administrative corruption. However, a number of
intellectuals and interested cadres gathered in
After the death of Assad,
his son Bashar became the president. He announced in his speech of oath the
"Presidential Program" of developing and modernizing. This refreshed
some prospects of improving the political position, especially, after releasing
600 hundred detained politicians, which formerly, the authority denied their
existence. Therefore, the circles of Forums widened and became overt, new
forums were established in Damascus, such as, the Forum of National Dialogue by
Riad Saif, who used his own house at one of the southern districts in Damascus.
Also, Jamal Atasi's Forum of Dialogue and Democracy, which was established at
the house of the intellectual and political leader Jamal Atasi. The writer of
this report had the honor to be the Spokesman of this later forum and
inaugurated it by a lecture titled "Present Matters for Discussions".
He also had the honor to assist the foundation of the Cultural Forum of Human
Rights and become a member of its administrative institution. Besides, he
inaugurated the cultural activity of the later forum at the residence of the
Lawyer Khaleel Ma'took in one of the southern districts in
Plenty of Syrian intellectuals and educated people lectured at these forums, which included a wide range of political, cultural and social cadres. At these forums, the language and culture of the dialogues flourished, besides, forming many collective demands, which were expressed by statements, documents and writings. Therefore, one important statement was signed by 99 Syrian intellectuals and had the following demands:
- Terminating the State of
- Canceling the Martial Laws and exceptional tribunals.
- Releasing the political dΕtentes and permitting the deported persons to return home.
- Liberating fundamental freedoms.
- Issuing the law of Parties and associations.
- Issuing the press law, which organizes Journalism.
- Viewing other matters, which related to fundamental freedoms, human rights and the sovereignty of law.
Within these activities,
the predicament of civil society emerged to oppose the totalitarian authority,
the mass society, plus, the cancellation of political life, pauperizing the
nation and neglecting it. This predicament with all its intellectual, social
and political inclusions was clarified in the "Fundamental Document"
that was issued by the foundational institution of the committees for the
revival of civil society. 1.200 intellectuals and activists in the public field
signed the document. They were writers, journalists, artists, lawyers,
engineers, doctors, graduates and teachers of both genders. This document was
called "Statement of the Thousand". It was succeeded by a second
document, titled "Toward a National Social Age in
The social movement, which was initiated by the intellectuals and supported by the opposing democratic national Parties, especially, the Parties that were included within the frame of democratic national assembling, assisted to exceed the screen of fear, rejected violence with all its political and social forms and features. Also, it achieved a sort of contact with the intellectuals and the political movements. As well as, it assisted the appearance of a new age, which adopts the principles of individual freedom and citizenship, plus, the equality of law.
The statement of the general national concordance that was established by the foundational institution of the committees for the revival of civil society had less propaganda but deeper and wider effect. This effect was clarified among all Syrians, who were interested in the general affairs, inside and outside the country. Even the prohibited Party of Muslim Brotherhood announced its support to the Statement of the Thousand and issued the Convention of Honor, which seemed to accord completely with it. The convention of Muslim Brotherhood included the rejection of violence and an invitation for a comprehensive national dialogue, in which it admits the political and intellectual plurality, the democratic principles and peaceful alternation of authority. Moreover, the convention recognizes religion as a civil identity instead of a political doctrine.
During the former months, new political and cultural features were formed. Thus, there became a deepened tendency toward an open and frank comprehensive national democratic dialogue. Also, there was a tendency for a national reconciliation that would lead to exceed the past and exit from the state of negative protest and disguise strikes into the state of positive participation. Furthermore, to pave a safe way to transfer into the State of rights, law and democracy system, plus, replacing the cultural base in which the suzerain state grew by a democratic base. The Syrian nation tried, and still tries to help the authority to get rid of its chronic crisis by producing a mutual political and intellectual sphere with it due to the speech of oath. According to some predicaments of that speech, some flatterers consider that it was an ideal complete presidential program, which was impeccable. Of course, this is not true. Unfortunately, the authority still refuses and prohibits the nation's help.
As a response to the
demands for a national dialogue, the authority decided to close the forums,
accused the intellectuals and charged them with treason. Moreover, the
authority went to extremes in monopolizing the truth, nationality and the
continuous corruption, which file was not yet opened, if it will ever be opened.
The Nationalist Leadership of Ba'ath and most of its members, who were referred
to as symbols of corruption and, as was said, who were supposed to be
interrogated in the regional conference that was held after the death of Assad,
attacked the nation. Besides, other supporting Parties of the national front
and all the bodies of security shared the attack. They all led launches of
slander and attacks against the idiotic and ignorant people, who did not
deserve liberty. Also, the launch attacked the intellectuals who dealt with
foreign embassies and evil external powers. Moreover, they started to mobilize
the Party and public organizations against the civil society; also, they
aroused the anger of the president against the intellectuals. Thus, the president
declared in an interview to the '
All the former responses
are headed by the title 'the primacy of administrative and economical reformation',
without the need for a political reformation. In spite of the prevailing
corruption among the advanced national front, according to the president, the
political positions seemed to be fine. Therefore, every discussion about the
political reformation became a calumniation against the modern history of
"Humans, individuals and groups, are recognized by their future. The past is always present in the future as a span of its range. The opposite can not be true, because the future is always surprising. We Arabs have to live this matter because the Arab man, always, considers his golden age had passed and he has to go back to it. However, the daily experience shows us clearly that the past, in whatever power of presence it affects the present or the future, it had already passed and terminated, and will never be back."
I believe that the sheik of Syrian intellectuals, who is madly in love with his country and people, tried to draw the attention of the young president to the past, which passed and has no more interpreted value. Furthermore, the persons of that past were neither always right, nor always wrong. It seems that Makdesi regained the Arabic poet saying "I was not honored by my people but I gave them honor and I was proud of myself not of my grandfathers". As if he wanted to say "you are the president, not the son of the president, thus, it is your duty to preserve the republic and defend it. However, the heritage of your father is grand and proud in your view, it is not your duty to preserve it and defend it, because life is passing as the current water of a river, where a person can not swim in the same water twice".
According to the researcher, it seems that the authority, today, is hesitating between the absolute need of reformation and the fear from the expected and the delusional results. This fear is due to different visions and private benefits, which were produced by the operation of possessing the State. Therefore, there are meaningless discussions about the primacy of administrative and economical reformation instead of the political reformation. As if the social fields of life are separated and unconnected, and the serious reformations in any of these fields do not need a paralleled reformation in the other fields or does not relate to it. For the first time, the authority confessed about the economical stagnancy and administrative corruption, mainly, in judiciary, education and information. This confession brought the authority out of the complete yielding position, the complete believe and the state of avoiding reality into the admission of some truths. It seems unable and does not want to confess the political crisis, which became a relating type to all other crises. Actually, reformation can not start before confessing the political crisis and criticizing the past. There should be deep criticism for the foundations, which established the policy since the 8th of March in 1963. If we take this matter out of the pessimism and optimism circle, which means from the subjective circle into the objective circle of possibilities and probabilities, we can say that reforming the present situations of the country became an urgent and actual necessity. Furthermore, the authority, which still holds the reins of initiative and decisive power for reformation, has two equal choices. First, to close the doors which it opened and await the future. Second, to go ahead in the compulsory dangerous critical way if it does not accept a national reconciliation, which enables the civil society's powers of actual participation in the political life. In fact, it seems that the Syrians have a wide range of time to wait.
1) We do not agree with the
distinction of Khaldoon Hasan Al Nakeeb between the dominating state and the
2) Khaldoon Hasan Al
Nakeeb, "The Dominating Authority in the Arab World", a comparative
structural study, The Center for Studies of the Arabic Union,
3) Review Al Nakheeb, previous source, also, Hanna Arndt " the Foundations of Totalitarianism", Edgar Moran "Introductions to leave out the Twentieth Century" and "the Spirit of Time" in two parts. Besides, a group of Arab researchers of "The State and the Society in the Arab World".
4) Al Nakheeb, previous source, p. 32 and the following.
5) Previous source, p. 36 - 37.
6) Yaseen Al Hafez,
"The Debacle and the Debacle Ideology", 2nd edition, Dar Al Hassad,
7) Previous source, p. 173 - 174.
8) Previous source, p. 212 - 213.
9) Patrick Seal, "Assad, the Conflict Over the Middle East", the translation of the General Organization of Studies, Publishing and Distribution, there is neither date nor place of publishing, p. 132.
10) Previous source, p. 133.
11) Previous source, p. 133.
12) A letter sent by the
well-known Syrian intellectual Antoin Maqdesi to the President of the
13) Patrick Seal, previous source, p. 142.
14) Previous source, p. 174.
15) Hanna Arndt, previous source, translated by Antoin Abu Zaid, Dar Al Saki, 1st edition, Beirut 1993, p. 221 and the following.
16) Previous source, p. 17.
17) We use the concepts of the political state, the political authority and the political Party as a substitute for the State of the one Party or, the leader Party, and the revolutionary authority. Thus, it is Patriarchal and disguises its military reality and security nature, also, instead of the ideological Party and in contradiction with it. Or let us say that we use the concept of policy instead of ideology and in contradiction with it.
18) Here, we distinguish the class conflict, being the logic of history, as Karl Marx said, from the conflict of the "modern tribes" over wealth and authority, which happened in our country and other backward countries. This conflict continued and no one gained unless in a personal and illegal way.
The Social Foundation Of
The Political Conversion
- 1 -
To approach the present structure of the Syrian political authority we need to research its social-economical foundation. According to a well-known opinion of Lenin, "politics" is the intensive expression of economy(1). Studying the conversions, which were caused by the military regime in some Arab countries and probably, in other countries of the third world, might clarify the depth of this essential idea.
The military movement seemed to be an expression of the rural fidgetiness and its crisis(2). Also, expressing its tendency to change the power scales in order to rearrange the relation between the rural areas and city(3), on one side, the farmers and landowners, on the other side. Therefore, this movement appeared different from all other conversions, which occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries, because it was a rural movement of an excellent degree. In spite of the movement's 'dream' to execute a comprehensive rise, which was based on developing the industry and establishing the foundations for an industrial modern society, it basically, aimed to reform the rural position.
According to what Dr. Hisham Sharabi believed, the rising Bourgeoisie had the role of executing the conversions. Also, it founded for the emerging modern capitalism type, which imposed the "subordinate" capitalism as, the only form of marginal capitalism, in the sphere of a World Economy Market(4).
Thus, the rural structure of this society continued and became more profound, also, overlapped with the interests of the capital in the centers. As a result, the industrial development became restrained(5); and the contradiction of the rural areas governed the total contradictions of the society, in which the centralization of the real-estate ownership strengthened, plus, the oppression and pauperization of peasants deepened. Furthermore, the government became, essentially, the authority of big proprietors, who interpenetrated with the subordinate capitalism, trade capitalism, banks and speculations.
The substitute for the "natural development", which means "capitalization" through the formation of an industrial capitalism and its domination, was the "Revolutions" that were led by the Marxist Parties. These revolutions, which were exceptionally led by the rural regions, opened the horizon for industrialization and modernization by claiming the accomplishment of socialism. Consequently, new bases were adopted for reforming the society, in which the groups of rural origins had an important role in reforming and shaping it. Although, the rural areas were driven to city groups and to modern thoughts, still, they affected urbanization in a certain way.
The military role came in the space between the restrain of capitalism development and the actual deficiency of Marxist Parties' role to execute the development mechanism. Therefore, rural contradictions governed the whole conversion. In other words, it seemed that poor peasants were the class who defined the path of development, its characteristics and form, moreover, they were transformed into a dominating class at the middle of the 20th Century(6).
To study the systems of the
National Arabic movement, we have to note, first, its military type, second,
its rural type, which were the essences of its
comprehensive composition and despotic authority. Through this recognition, the
interests of these classes, which governed, and the consciousness and level of
ideology of those, who were under their governing, would clarify the base of
this form of authority. Dr. Hisham Sharabi called this authority as a
patriarchal society, which was vaccinated with modernization(7) and governed, by a renewed patriarchal
authority(8). The same could be noticed in the revolutions of
This means, to approach the
- 2 -
After many short-term coups
d`etat, the army overcame the authority on the 8th of March in 1963 by the move
of low rank officers. Even though, Al Ba'ath Party became the ruler after
eliminating the Nasseris in July 1963, the authority seemed to be in command of
the army. The army made the coup d`etat on the 8th of March in 1963 and brought
Al Ba'ath to rule. Then, the Party was reformed after self-dissolution in 1958
for the sake of the union with
(The coup d'etat of February 1966) was the period of conflict between the Party and the army. In other words, the conflict between the military commission and the Party commission, which terminated by getting rid of the Party's control, gradually, and transforming it, since 1970, into a facade. The period from 1966 to 1970, which, also, might be since the Nasseri's elimination in 1963, was the period of conflict between the power centers inside the army. This conflict was resolved on the 16th of November in 1970.
Dr. Ghassan Salamah referred that according to the French Colonial Plan, the formed Army was based on an organized force, which consisted of minorities with all their variations. Therefore, although some officers were chosen from the families of big land proprietors, the government of independence inherited an army, which was mainly composed of minorities. Still, the successive coups d`etat caused the retreat of many minorities' role. Thus, Kurds role became marginal, the role of Sunni officers of urban origin became weak, then, Druze officers' role retreated, as well as, those of Hawrani origins (on the provincial level). The role of the Christian officers was restricted to technical matters, away from politics(9).
Although the different studies gave much attention toward the Sectarian span(10), we would discuss the matter from another scope, because it is more profound and expresses the reality more precisely, in which the sectarian span seems an entrance or another expression of a different level to this scope. Consequently, the conflicts and the elimination become a natural result of the real contradictions, also, an expression of the conflict among various paradoxical social groups. Considering that there is no power or authority without a class foundation, plus, the power of the military or the Party is an expression of a class or a sector.
Accordingly, the transfer of the domain center from the Party to the army seemed an expression of the transfer from the domain of city groups, which were the basis of the Party commission and its active cadres, to the domain of the rural groups(11). The later groups practiced elimination within till reaching a specified centralization domain that governed the country during the last 30 years. In fact, if the military had the main role in taking over the authority, they imposed, at the end, the benefits of a limited specific social group. Fua'ad Shahada Al Khuri's notice was very punctual, he referred that the interference of the military with politics and overcoming the authority happened in Arab countries which were marked by the agricultural-rural system, such as, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan and Iraq(12). This happened in countries which societies were characterized by the agricultural-rural organizations emerging from the feudal system(13). Thus, Dr. Kahldoon Hasan Al Nakheeb noted that most officers did not come from principal urbanized centers but from small towns and villages. Also, most of them belong to poor and humiliated rural middle-class and marginal urbanized class(14).
No doubt, Hanna Batato was, probably, the first who approached the social foundation of the groups, which ruled through the military. He considered that the executed revolutions of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, were done by the alliance of different groups which have similar rural roots and resembling rural trends(15), besides, he assured the deep pervade of peasants in the Syrian Army(16). Thus, they were of simple rustic origins that pursued their own conducts according to their structural position, natural tendencies and instinctual inclinations(17). Of course, studying the percentage of soldiers and officers of rural origins in the total number of military force clears its rural mark, also, clarifies the composition of systems, which was established by it.
Here, we would like to
clarify that the difference between the 8th of March coup d`etat in 1963 and
the former coups d`etat is specific, because this one was transformed into a
formula in order to change the total society and the economical composition.
Probably, the coup d`etat of Husni Al Za'eem was of the same sort, too.
However, if the start of this transformation occurred with the union between
When the French colony depended on some minorities to establish the military force, which served its benefits, the choice corresponded with the position of rural groups. In fact, the military was a small force, practically; it was established after the independence in 1946. Therefore, we should study the reasons for entering the military service apart from the French Colony's attempts to make use of some soldiers from the minorities for executing their policies.
The matter was related to
the agricultural-rural composition, so, the army provided for them 'a device
for social rising'(18),
whether the authority was for civilians or soldiers. Thus, the career in
military service or government with all the health and family benefits became
an aim that the commoners longed for, especially that they were in such a hard
position, committed and mortgaged for landlords and capitalists(19). Therefore, this career was considered the
best of all, because the military forces were the first institution that
followed the policy of insurance, such as health insurance, family
compensations, social security, retirement rules, upgrading and promotions,
apart from providing food, clothing and housing. The military career became the
ideal rank for social flourishing(20). This
meant that poor rural conditions would urge the peasants to join the army in
order to have a reasonable life. We cannot ignore that the dash for military
service increased after the independence and after the defeat of
- 3 -
Studying the nature of authority imposes researching about the social foundation of the groups, who came into power. As we referred, the poor rural groups dominated and became the authority, so, we should study the rural position. It seemed that all the contradictions, which governed the rural position, were the basis for all the later economical policies that had one specific aim, which was to redistribute wealth in the society. This aim was formed whether to adjust the relation between city and rural regions, consequently, to overstep the 'historical injustice' that the rural population suffered, or to establish a new proprietor's class of rural origins by taking the advantage of the rural domain.
We can notice that the rural mark was prevailing and the cities were marginal. Still, the cities were dominating the rural regions, absorbing their overflows and controlling their positions(21), because cities were the center of settlement for landowners 'Feudalism" and the center of authority, which was their government(22). The agricultural-rural style was the stamp of society, because they formed the majority of the population(23), on the other hand, cities seemed as settlements for strangers, who lived on the expense of poor rural people(24).
Actually, there had been a rural composition, so, we should research the rural contradictions because they were the bases for the conversions that happened later on. There was a lot of information about land property distribution and the sharp split between classes. Before 1958, the property ownership suffered an excessive centralization(25), while 2.5% of the population owned 45% of 'artificial' irrigated land and 30% of rain-irrigated one, 82% of rural inhabitants had no lands at all. Some peasants had a piece of land, which its area was, less than 10 Hectares, but 70% of them did not have any agricultural property(26). Abu Ali Yaseen pointed out that feudalistic families, which represented 1.4% of the population, had 68.2% land. Besides, while the rural families, which presented 31.5% of the total population, had 22.7% land, the proprietorship of big landlords, whose percentage was 0.3% of the population, owned 9.1% land. The remaining percentage 66.8% of the population was of indigent families(27). Thus, the rural income was imbalanced, because big landowners (15%) had 60% of the total agricultural income, medium landlords (10%) had 10% of the total agricultural income and little landowners with indigent people (75% of the total rural population) had only 30% of the total agricultural income(28).
Dr. Abdullah Hanna referred to the income of farmers, mainly, the poor ones, which was terribly low to the extent that maintaining good health for peasants to work actively in land and production was not affordable(29). The position of the farmers was related into two matters, first, related to the peasants who worked in the lands of feudatories and suffered the feudalism tyranny, the second was related to the small proprietorships, which were often insufficient to sustain the farmers.
Abu Ali said that the small
proprietorships, mainly spread in the towns of Hawran,
Those peasants were
striving to change this reality and dreaming of equality, besides, union,
industrialization and progress, which became associated through some Parties'
actions or natural sense. Though, the developments cleared that the most pauper
regions dominated at the end. Therefore, all other military masses, whether
The littoral mountains were
the most retarded and miserable regions, actually, these regions were much
backward than others in Syria(31). The
majorities were from the level land at the west, south and north of
We notice a twofold of poverty and backwardness, also, between class and sectarian humiliation. Soon after was the entrance for the savageness of class humiliation, which was the essential aim. This position was establishing the base for two matters, the first was economical, which related to the ambition of resolving the pauperism crisis and class humiliation, the second was political, which related to the methods of controlling that clarified after becoming the dominating power. Poverty, retardation and the nature of the social composition in general, established the mechanism of controlling with a special taste. Therefore, it was a matter of 'compensation' for the chronicle poverty and disastrous humiliation, which was executed through subjugated mechanisms in a savage form. This meant that the authority formation had to serve the class diversion.
According to the Statistic Guide, Hanna Batato noticed that the major part of middle class, which was the principal constitute of the government and public sector was from a rural origin, relatively new(36). Dr. Ghassan Salamah noticed as well that the governing elite was of rural origin(37). This happened through many operations of transitions, which started with the law of the Agrarian Reformation, then, diverged into various sides. By the time the agricultural reformatiom's law liberated the peasants from the captivity of the feudal system, the diversion of economical politics resulted the emergence of new chances for work, which were not available before.
- 4 -
However, three important
changes occurred, the first was related to the 'Nationalization of Industry'
and the industrial policies. This was an entrance to contain a reserved crowd
for work. As industrialization became a central aim in the new formation, it
gave the opportunity to contain the flowing peasants to the city. The second
change was related to free education. So, the scope of education was opened for
rural students, consequently, obtaining a suitable job. No doubt that this
matter was a rural dream of excellence, because it founded for the class an
uprising stage, which the rural regions needed. The third change was related to
the enlargement of governmental institutions, especially army(38), regardless of the political reason that
related to the conflict with
The relation of city-rural
that existed before
Since the Law No.161 of 1958 till 30.12.1969, the government confiscated about 1.5 million hectares of land(41), most of it were distributed among farmers(42). So, the percentage of little proprietorships increased to about 76% of the agricultural area. The properties from 2 to 25 hectares represented about 93% of the total agrarian area, which made it form the wider base in the rural region(43).
A comparison between what was prevailed during the forties/fifties and the year 1970 clarifies the difference. In fact, while small properties, which were 30% of the total property jumped into 87% in 1970, the big proprietorships retreated from 49% of total property into about 1% only(44).
On the other hand, at the beginning of 1967, all the big and medium industrial organizations were transferred to the government's control(45). Also, the government took over the banks and the external trade. Therefore, the government commissioned the industrial and banking capital, plus, the trade capital to a certain extent. The private proprietorship of rural areas were communized and turned to be the 'governing law'. This turn was accompanied by the rural officers' domination of authority. As well as, the enlargement of employed groups' mass of rural origins in the governmental institutions, especially, army and intelligence service. This made the proprietorship of the government, which was called "public sector", yield to the mechanism of re-capitalism that the rural aim was behind, through "robbing the government".
Thus, the Nationalization
seemed as if to re-form the proprietary class. However, the governing
consciousness was "Socialist", or believed to be socialist. This
consciousness considered that "Socialism" meant the establishment of
agrarian reform, also, the transfer of land ownership into peasants. This, of
course, was the rural socialism, which contained in its essence the
"possession", instead of denying it. The "disguised"
consciousness and disguising as well, imposed the
establishment of a "gatekeeper" authority, not only, to suppress the
former proprietors, but also, to repress the injured protestors. Accordingly,
since the union between
Therefore, the dreams of 'equality' were dominating at the beginning. Then, the dominating group converted from the rural "idealism", who was responsible for equality (the period from 1966 to 1970), to the rural 'realism', who became the proprietor. Consequently, the government became a device for thievery, to steal public sector organizations, commissions, disregarding laws, smuggling and others. At this stage, equality turned out to become inequality, the peasants' ambitions succeeded to become capitalists. Through these situations, the living conditions of the rural areas declined, as well as, the rest of the citizens, in general. Besides, public sectors, especially, the industrial sector, deteriorated badly, and entered a "clinical death", however, a new class was formed.
- 5 -
Finally, the "rural dream", the "general" and the "disguised" dream of private ownership, converted through "dominating the authority" into a "real dream", the dream of the groups who became the 'authority' themselves. The dream to own capital was through stealing the government, which needed a specific form of authority. Thus, the authority was established on intensive centralization and the repression of citizens, in general.
1) Lenin said in his book "Lenin".
2) This idea is clear in the studies of different writers, such as: Hanna Batato, Khaldoon Hassan Al Nakeeb, Gassan Salamah, Fu'ad Izak Khuri, Gorki Mirski...etc.
Ghassan Salamah "The Society and the Government in the Eastern Arab
World", The Center of Arabic Union Studies,
Hisham Sharabi, "The Patriarchal Structure, A Research in the Present
Arabic Society", Dar Al Talee'ah,
5) This problematic was
b) Salamah Keilah, Any Progress Cancels the Subordination
in the Arabic World, Al Wahda Magazine, Al Rabat, No. 45,
6) Dr. Hisham Sharabi, previous source, p. 21. Although he did not specify the rural areas, he talked about a middle class, which called Little Bourgeois, and referred more than once to its civic not rural mark.
7) The previous source, p. 19.
8) Dr. Hisham Sharabi specifies the characteristics as follows: The domination of the father in the family is the same in society. Father's well is absolute, expressed through the silence of all. It is based on repressing and obedience.
The most efficient and developed element in a modern patriarchal state is its interior security institution, which is called Intelligence service. He refers to the duality of the government, which exceeds the Military-Bureaucracy system into a secret agency system that dominate the daily life and form the final controlling device in civil and political life. Previous source, p. 22.
9) Dr. Ghassan Salamah, the previous source, p. 162.
10) Dr. Nicolas Van Dam
" The Conflict Over Authority in
11) Dr. Ghassan Salamah, previous source, p. 164.
12) Fua'ad Izak Al Khuri,
"The Military and Authority in the Arabic Country", Dar Al Sakhi,
13) The previous source, p. 58.
14) Dr. Khaldoon Hassan Al
Nakheeb " The Dominating Government in the
Present Eastern Arabic World, A Comparative Constructional Study", The
Center of Arabic Union Studies,
15) Hanna Batato 'The Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi Revolutions', Al Nahej magazine 2001, No. 61, New edition 25, p. 97.
16) Hanna Batato 'Notices about the Social Roots of the Governing Military Group in Syria and The Reasons of Their Domination', Middle East Journal of August 1980, published in Arabic in addendum for the pamphlet "The Political Role of Minorities in The Middle East", Editor Dr. Maclorine, p. 10.
17) Previous source, p. 17.
18) Fua'ad Izak Al Khuri, previous source, p. 26, p. 95.
19) Previous source, p. 26.
20) Previous source, p. 30.
21) Dr. Nicola Van Dam, previous source, p. 26.
22) Fua'ad Izak Al Khuri, previous source, p. 70.
23) Dr. Abdullah Hanna refer that rural population present 65% of the total population, "The Agricultural Matter and the Rural Movements in Syria and Lebanon 1920-1945", the second part, Dar Al Farabi, Beirut, 1st edition, p. 61.
24) Van Dam, previous source, p. 26
25) Dr. Khaldoon Hassan Al Nakheeb, previous source, p. 95, p. 100.
26) Dr. Ghassan Salamah, previous source, p. 185, the first information belongs to Sameer Makhdusi.
27) Abu Ali Yaseen "The Story of Land and the Syrian Peasant", p. 33.
28) Previous source, p. 39.
29) Dr. Abdullah Hanna, previous source, p. 48.
30) Abu Ali Yaseen, previous source, p. 33.
31) Van Dam, previous source, p. 28.
32) Hanna Batato, previous source, p. 4.
33) Van Dam, previous source, p. 35, He refers that the sectarian span of the rural non-urban dual split attracts the attention. While the conservative religious minorities centralize in the poor rural regions, Sunnis dominate the rich regions and cities. This is a general notice because other groups than minorities inhabit a part of the rural areas, besides, Cities are divided into levels of social composition.
34) Hanna Batato, previous source, p. 5, 6, also "The Syrian, Egyptian and Iraqi Revolutions", p. 98.
35) Previous sources.
36) Hanna Batato " The Syrian Egyptian and Iraqi revolutions", p. 102.
37) Dr. Ghassan Salamah, previous source, p. 191.
38) Fua'ad Izac Al Khuri, previous source, p. 83.
39) Previous source, p. 101, he refers to the Budget of the Army, which is 70% of total budget. F.P. Victorofe say that the budget ranges from 55% to 60%, "The Economy of Modern Syria, its problems and prospects", Dar Al Ba'ath for Press, Printing, Publishing and Distribution, p. 88.
40) Muneer Al Hamesh " The Development of Modern Syrian Economy", Dar
41) Dr. Mohamed Kafa
"The Conversions of Agricultural Economy in
42) A. Vilonic, previous source, p. 38 - 39.
43) Dr. Mohamed Kafa, previous source, p. 60.
44) A. Vilonic, previous source, for comparison look p. 44, 46.
45) F.P. Victorofe, previous source, p. 67.
The Totalitarian System
Aslan Abd Al Kareem(*)
"Without a law, no country exists. Thus, the nations, who are subjugated to tyranny, have no other country than the one which contempt the other nations".
First of all, it is necessary to confirm the following points:
A - It was possible to accept some political terms, such as tyrannical or Security government, especially, the dominating government, to describe the Syrian regime, but the degree of this regime's penetration through the social structure and attaching society to it enables us to call it, relatively, Totalitarian(1). This term expresses the reality more clearly and precisely, especially, when we see the catastrophic results of this social penetration.
B - This research is,
mainly, about the Syrian political system until
C - This research does not regard the intentions, whether good or bad, especially, in relation to the Syrian System and its beginnings. In spite of my assumption about the good intention of the other and not the contrary, still, politics is not a science of intentions. Therefore, I care for the essential importance of the objective acts' results instead of the speeches that the system repeats about itself. As much as intentions help us to understand the phenomena, the objective results are the remaining part. As it is said in a famous aphorism, "Even though good intentions pave the way for hell" or "Even that reality is stubborn", an English proverb.
After these preliminary notices, we start our subject to see the reality of the dominating system from the constitutional, political and practical side.
1 - The Government According to Constitution, Law and Theoretical Mind:
The Article No. 8 of the Syrian Constitution, issued in 1973, indicates "Al Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party is the leading Party of the government and society. It leads an Advanced National Front, which unifies the energies of the nation's masses to serve the goals of the Arab nation". This Article dedicates the Syrian Totalitarianism through monopolizing Ba'ath Party, authority and the society. Ba'ath was supposed to compose the social-political base for the system, but the fact is, Ba'ath lost its role during the last three decades and transformed into an ideological and organizational cover for the present authority, plus, turned into a device for the authority and annexed to it. Actually, if Ba'ath monopolizes the constitutional authority, thus, the Secretary-General is the responsible one. This rank is reserved for the Presidency of the Republic, which has comprehensive and absolute jurisdictions. Consequently, in spite of all the claims, the presidency appropriates the authority!
According to the political
preferable expressions of the Party's literacy, official and unofficial media, the
secretary-general, the President, is the mono leader of the Party and the
nation's procession. The matter does not stop at the titles, but expands to
acts. Since 1963, the presidency of the republic or the Revolutionary Command
Council issued many decrees that were above the constitution and law, or rather
against both. The emerging authority of year 1970 kept the decrees of the past
authority and made benefit of them to consolidate its existence and
comprehensive dominance. Therefore, the executive power in
The center of Presidency withdrew all the real jurisdictions on all the levels, especially, the monopolized political level, and left the trivialities for the legislative power. In reality, the People's Council did not even practice these constitutional trivialities. The Council was never known to have, really, discussed any essential political matter, especially, an external one. The Council functions were to clap and certify for the Presidency authority, plus, to fulfill its needs, which are above the constitution, by supplying a legislative cover that, in reality, is deficient in covering anything.
The Council of Ministers, which is a part of the executive power, had no better chance than the People's Council. In spite of its constitutional status, the Council of Ministers' position was restricted, not only on the political level, but also, on all the other levels. Therefore, in all the political or economical or social affairs, the last decision was for the presidency center. The weakness and frailty of the People's Council prevented it from discussing, seriously, any exceptional decree that was issued before the constitution of 1973, to find out whether to accord with it or not, or cancel it or not. Almost, all the above-mentioned decrees remained the same, which are in urgent need to be canceled.
The same is applied for the legislated decrees that were issued after the constitution of 1973. The People's Council continued its enthusiastic certification for these decrees without any mentioned justifications. Usually, the council would formally discuss the matters with a lot of gratitude for the gifts and donations of the leader. In comparison with other constitutions, the Syrian Constitution is made to the measure of the leading Party and its secretary-general, which form a radical case of the presidential system. Radicalism is not only due to the presidential mark or the monopolized constitutional political authority by the name of the leading Party or the absolute jurisdictions, but also, through the monopolized candidature and canceled election, which is replaced by referendum.
Article No. 1- 84 of the Syrian Constitution indicates: "According to the suggestion of Ba'ath Regional Leadership, the candidacy for presidency is issued by the People's Council and presented for the citizens' plebiscite". It is quite clear that the non-Ba'athi citizens have no right for candidature. Obviously, the Regional Leadership would not only choose a Ba'athi cadre for candidacy, but because, for three continuous decades, it chose the same person until he died. Furthermore, according to the mentioned article, the People's Council cannot decide the candidacy but passes the suggestion of the Regional Leadership. On the other hand, people's rights for election and choosing the candidate are disregarded and transferred into a plebiscite because there is no more than one candidate to choose. Other than that, the applied "Plebiscite" and its results became a well-known political joke.
As for the judicial power,
we cannot talk about its independence at all. The
The normal judiciary system judges the cases, which are not transferred to the mentioned exceptional courts and are not related to the State Security court. These cases are called "normal". Whether civil or penal cases, the system, which is supposed to be independent, suffers the lack of independence and uprightness. Therefore, as a result of the authority's temperamental interference, the comprehensive corruption, the prevailed bribery, which most directories and institutions suffer from, the judiciary system could never be independent. Unfortunately, even the judiciary system, which is supposed to protect uprightness and justice, has been invaded by the plague of corruption. Certainly, when the decay reaches judiciary, then justice is finished.
The collapse of the judicial system does not stop here, but expands to the imposed laws and decrees. Actually, the judges are restricted to apply the exceptional laws, from the decree No. 6 till the law No. 49. These decrees and laws do not regard any constitutional or legal measures. Through these exceptional laws, hundreds and thousands of cases were judged without the minimum legal and judicial rules. There are other ways to issue arbitrary judgments, away from the exceptional decrees and laws, by using the law of sanctions that was issued in 1949. Thus, false accusations and created charges are fabricated to accord with the law of sanctions and condemn the accused people. In the case of matters that have no description or criminal meaning, the exceptional Judges use the Article No. 304 and Article No. 306 from the general law of sanctions.
Article No. 306 indicates the following:
1 - "Each established Association with the intention of changing the entity of the economical or social or the political position of the society by any mentioned mean of the Article No. 304, would have dissolution. The cadres who belong to it would be sentenced to temporary hard labor".
2 - "The establishers and directors are sentenced to, at least, 7 years".
3 - "The eased plea, which is applied for the conspirators according to the Article No. 262, includes the accused of the above mentioned felony".
Article No. 304 indicates that "Terrorist acts mean all the acts that intend to provoke a case of terror by using devices, like explosives, military weapons(3), inflammable substances and poisoning or burning or epidemic or microbial productions, which might cause any general danger".
In all cases, whether the opponent is an individual or a Party, whatever way he uses, even if he is away from changing the entity of the society, the court would always accuse the opponent as a terrorist. Even if the acts of the opponent never exceed the peaceful dialogue, the court would judge him according to Articles 304 & 306. Therefore, the contradiction between both texts of the articles and the reality of the accused wounds the heart, the mind and the conscience. So, we do not exaggerate when we say that the exceptional judiciary has ready-made formulas, in which it reshapes the accusations and the accused according to the demanded size. Are we not, in fact, in front of a contemporary "Procrustean bed", if not worse?
The miserable position of
the upper constitutional court on the constitutional and reality levels worsens
the judicial power status. In the constitution, the Articles from No. 139 to
No. 148 treated the upper court's formation, quorum, function, jurisdictions
and others. A quick look at these Articles clears the upper court's contracted
jurisdictions and its little number of members. Also, the Article No. 146
conceals the upper court's right to discuss the laws, which are imposed by the
President of the Republic for plebiscite. When we know that the president of
the republic is the president of the upper judiciary power, who appoints the
members of the upper court, we understand how the circle of power is completely
closed. Actually, we never knew that this upper court had ever acted on the
level of constitutional principles, laws, decisions, legislated decrees or
others. Nobody ever heard the name of the upper court's former head, Nasrah
Mullah Haidar, until he participated in the negotiations of
Finally, when we remember that due to the state of emergency and eternal martial laws, all this happened, we understand the tragic situation, which the Syrian nation, judiciary and courts suffered and still suffer from. Thus, the exception creates exceptions that swallow the rights, freedoms and consolidate tyranny without any limitations.
2 - The Authority in the Field of Political Practice:
In this field, the practices of repression and monopolization and the results are perfectly personified. This is an expanding field; therefore, I will refer to the most prominent features briefly. To apply the comprehensive domination and complete monopolized decision, the Syrian regime depended on two methods:
The First: to attach to it
some political powers of the national left direction, called: the advanced
national front. This front had a big name; its treaty indicated that it owned
the decision in peace and war affairs and fatal matters. In reality, the front
was not more than a decoration for external and internal consumption. The
treaty of the front disappeared, in fact, by the two mentioned constitutional
articles No. 8 and No. 84. As we all witnessed during a long
time, the front had no practical role at all, besides, the organizational
quorum of the front had 50% Ba'ath Party + the President. Thus, even if
the front practiced all its jurisdictions and even both mentioned articles did
not exist, as long as voting was tended to the benefit of Ba'ath, the front
became an annex to the authority's Party. Therefore, Ba'ath was always capable
of practicing leadership and decision. Probably, due to all this, especially,
the article No. 8, the Arab Socialist Union withdrew from the front and
protested against the issued constitution. Of course, a small split of the
The treaty banned all the
Parties of the front, except Ba'ath, from working among military forces and
students. Thus, we should not be so clever to discover that the first active
powers of the society are the military and the students. The main aim of this
banning was to drain the rest of the parties from the real elements of power,
especially, that the percentage of youth in the Syrian society, from 1 to 18
years old, is more than 50% of the total population. Also, the military
institution had a central role in the history of
The logical and practical results of the front's treaty and the practice that continued during three decades were more than enough to confirm the authority's success to achieve its goals fantastically. Moreover, the parties transformed into different organized groups and opportunist families. This, of course, in addition to the successive splitting, narrowed the parties' social and organizational bases and general activities until their status became so inferior. The conditions became worse when these parties could not find what to say about the essential general politics other than repeating, like a parrot, the speeches of the authority. Thus, the parties of the front adopted the speeches of the president as their political schedule and practical guide. At the same time, they reserved for themselves a margin of shy partial criticism that related to internal policies, exactly in the field of economy, administration and services. Besides, the parties reserved a shallow approach toward the policies that related to general freedoms, citizens' rights, mastery of nation and law, plus others.
Actually, the Arab
Socialist Party and the Communist Party, before and after splitting criticized
the position more than the other Parties. In the beginning of the eighties,
Bakdash, the leader of the communist Party in the front, said: "If we
worked from the inside, we would have been from the opponents". Still, in
spite of the "inside" comprehensive collapse on the social,
economical and political levels, the position remained without any changes.
According to the confession of the communists, the incomes of the proletariat
declined to a quarter. Also, the corruption prevailed, the repression was
generalized, especially during the 80ies, but the parties could not do
anything, so, the position in
The parties stayed still observing the deterioration of their influences with a stupid, dull and yielding attitude. So, the regime did not imagine such a success, where all the previous political influences of these powers were tamed, subdued and almost eliminated. Thus, the regime had no more things to do other than sticking to its weak positions in the Front and the regime, besides, some of its cadres did not feel ashamed to play the role of the flatterer poet and the political clown of the Sultan. To be fair, we should mention that some individuals or small groups were fidgeting and looking for self-salvation from these positions, mainly, the communists.
The Second: using the iron fist, the tyrannical repression and different types of terrorism to eliminate the political opposing powers, starting from those powers, who applied violence, and ending with those, who had a peaceful activity and they still are against the terrorist violence. Whether radical, right, left, or medium, there were no big differences between the fates of these powers. Therefore, the oppositions that refused to yield to the front of the regime were eliminated, politically, and most often, organizationally and bodily.
Due to imprisonment and
death, retreat and willy-nilly exile, the serial of horror prevailed in
The principle of responsibility and personal punitive was disregarded completely. There were shameful savage practices, inside and outsides prisons, that could not be accepted, neither by individuals nor by societies. It is not necessary to mention in this report all the horrible details of oppressions, which became locally and internationally known. Starting from the methods of terrorism and torture to the positions of the prisons that relate to food, medication, sun, air, martial laws, duration of detention, deprivation of civil rights, unlimited arbitrary detentions, with or without any tribunal, so, all depended on the whims of the regime. The regime relayed on the principle of interrogating the others' testimony and not the personal attitude of the accused.
It is preferable that the
reader would follow the international and local reports, if they were found.
Also, to read the report of the defending commissions of human rights and
democratic freedoms that was permitted inside
Furthermore, the aggravated
intensified security institutions' interference with the public life became
unbearable. The unbelievable interference caused a social suffocation and
tragic closed circles without any exit. A latest newspaper of the authority indicated
this subject: "A Festival for Children Canceled by A Security Decision, in
24.2.2001". While 300 hundred children were happily watching the
exhibition of a Lebanese Circus group in the city of
Let this subject be presented for the officials to find an answer and a treatment(4).
The group and the director were Lebanese, then how about if they were Syrian? Only God and the Security know! The reader can percept that if, nowadays, the security's interference reaches this extent, then how was it in the past? Also, if the mentioned local report of the human rights' position is about nowadays, then how was it before?
In addition to the two mentioned methods, the intensive nightmare presence of the security bodies managed the success of the regime to destroy and eliminate the political powers, whether allying or opposing, violent or peaceful, left or right or medium. Today, these powers are in a very weak position and have no actual political power at all.
The previous horrible
position, beside the enlarging economical and social pressure led hundreds of
thousands of citizens to join the authority's Party. This usually happens to
people in each totalitarian system, either because of fear or opportunism or
mounting to reach a rank or fortune and social prestige, sometimes to satisfy
sick whims or illegal aims. So, it is not strange that Ba'ath, the authority's
Party, includes about One Million and a quarter of members. If we, roughly,
consider the population of
The real monopolization of the authority and power, the generalized and comprehensive repression, giving full rein to the bodies of security, eliminating the political powers and the cessation of politics in the society, all formed the main features of the Syrian system. The decoration of the "advanced front" did not change anything. We have seen similar "fronts" in the socialist countries, which did not have any actual role. The whole position caused intensified terror among the citizens from politics, authority and security, also, caused the loss of the spirit of responsibility, the death of the citizen and the search for the private individual salvation.
3 - The Authority on the Social Level:
As we mentioned before, here, the essence of totalitarianism is found and all what distinguishes it from other systems of despotism and individual or partial domination. Penetrating the society and its civil organizations from inside, and swallowing it, turns it into a compulsory expansion of the authority. In addition, the Syrian regime settled the other totalitarian experiences. As this regime was hallucinating about its existence and continuity, which formed the main scheme of its internal and external policy, thus, it controlled the individual since his childhood till his grave. That occurred not only through the directed media, cultivation and universities, or intensive generalized repression, but also through the compulsory affiliation to the government.
The compulsory affiliation
almost starts from the age of ten, the Vanguards of Ba'ath, and never stops
until death. So, this continues through the
Furthermore, due to the violent political crisis between the authority and the armed Muslim Vanguards, from 1979 to 1982, the regime established dangerous organizational phenomena, such as, parachutists, Ba'ath and labors' phalanx and others. The entry to these organizations guaranteed financial and prestigious gaining, not only to make benefit of employment, housing, cars and others but also to obtain university studies. So, the affiliation to one of these organizations was a passport to pass for the scientific faculties at the universities, especially, which require high grades.
Schools and cultivation were decayed, as well as the universities. Ba'athizing the education, taking up the scientific chairs at the universities by belonging to certain organizations, disregarding the personal qualifications, affected the educational uprightness.
The catastrophic results of controlling the society and canceling its independence are gradually appearing now. Even on the level of speech, the aggravated results during the last years obliged the authority to start looking for solutions.
In fact, the authority that talks by the name of the nation, labors and socialism works from ages for its own private account. The interests of the emerging groups of such an authority, or who formed the authority's sphere, are mainly directed toward gaining fast wealth. These groups transformed into corrupted schools of planned and organized corruption. Also, the society and the national economy transformed into a special farm with a milk cow, whether in the public, mutual or private sectors. The exploitation was practiced by many legal or above legal forms, starting from the exorbitant brokerage and terminating by protecting the Mafia's of smugglers or joining them. As well as, exploiting financial benefits, participating the private sector, snatching shares, tributes, stealing, bribing, plus, monopolizing the public contracts, using the public services as if the country is a private property, beside uncountable ways of plundering the nation's fortune. The authority transformed into real Mafioso groups, stacked circles from the bottom to the top and vice-versa. The nearest circles to the center of political, economical and social decision's fabrication in the authority, Party, military and security institutions, are the more powerful and dominating. There was a comprehensive structural penetration through all the cultural, economical and social organizations. Besides, the grade of familial and tribal relation, especially, the ruling elite, became a greatly effective way to strengthen the Mafia's control, vertically and horizontally.
This Octopus of multiple hands and forms, of harmonious activities or competing ones represents the parasite leech that sucks up the blood, sweat and efforts of the real creators of the nation's fortune. These individual and organized Mafias were not hidden but worked openly with no shame. Every day the exalted palaces are built and the luxurious cars fill the streets and roads of the country, whether for personal or public use. In many cases, more tragic accidents happen because of these cars, which are driven by the officials or their children, with fast speed and disregarding any traffic law. With complete astonishment, people watched, helplessly, this show-off phenomenon of wealth and power, which in most cases of aggravation, people imitated those upper groups forming a farce frame of the origin.
Moreover, we can refer to the smuggled money of unimaginable quantities, whether smuggled by the Syrian whales of Bureaucracy or the private sector. Although many Foreign or Arab newspapers issued and still mention numbers of billion dollars, unfortunately, we do not have exact certified numbers. Many Syrian personalities had a smuggled fortune of billions of dollars, like Refa'at Assad, the brother of the former president, whose stolen fortune by force and on the expense of people reached once 7 billion US dollars.
Intentionally or not, this demagogy completely ignores the difference between the settling corruption, which runs like the blood in the veins of the Syrian bureaucracy, and the mentioned Mafia. Unlike the existing corruption in any other place according to the political or social or economical system or other marginal extents, the corruption in our country became a fundamental prevailed phenomenon that organizes the conduct and values of the authority and the society. The equality between the major and the secondary is a very old method that was used to justify the wrong, the evil and the crime in any personified form. It is a misleading method to delude the dialogue and loosen the solid base of the opposition. A well-known proverb in Arabic says: "Everything for the Arabs is one kind of soap", which means the actual cancellation between the real and the superficial recognition. In our country, the corruption is not just a settling fundamental phenomenon, but has widths and depths to the extent that there is not one field, institution or organization, which does not suffer from that. Our corruption is different from any other partial corruption that might occur in such a field or such an extent or such a time.
In addition to corruption, the misleading demagogy ignores the difference between closed and open societies. There are democratic societies that admit the other opinion and the contradicting benefits. These societies have the mechanism of discovering the individual or the groups' corruption, unmask and settle the account with the corrupted, legally and politically, whether they are individuals, a Party, an organization or a firm.
The democratic societies create the climate and the suitable provisions for narrowing the sphere of corruption by the cultivation mechanism and other social mechanisms, like the groups of protecting the customers, the uprightness of judiciary system and authority, legal mechanisms that investigate the fortunes and governmental or non-governmental incomes. The admitted contradictions of economical, social and political benefits in the open societies beside the huge open information play a great role to uncover the scandals, defame and calls for facing them. This is what I call the morals that result from the objective pressures of the contradicting benefits and the fear of their negative effects.
The contrary happens in the closed societies, especially the totalitarian ones, where the corruption is protected and hidden for a long time. The reasons for this long-term corruption start from secrecy and lack of information, and end with the settled fear and other diseases of totalitarian repression, like denying the other and canceling the independence of the civil society and its organizations. In this case, not many fingers, which clearly and openly point-out the corruption, could be found because it is possible to cut them off. According to the continuity of its benefits, only the authority has the jurisdictions to follow corruption, renew itself, organize its entity and maintain its ragged cover. This means that the authority has the right to unmask the corrupted powers and the abusers of the mind, soul and power of the nation. It is the authority that can open the file of corruption and determine its extent and when to close it, so that the structure would not collapse all together.
A quick look at the practices of the Syrian authority, during the past three decades, can confirm all what we mentioned. The file of corruption was opened several times, starting from the years 1976-1977 up to present, but each time it was closed before termination. In other words, the file was closed before approaching the main heads of corruption and the real Mafia, or who were called Big Fish or Whales. There was an exception at the beginning of the year 2000, the last time that the file of corruption was opened, thus, the Prime Minister and some others were approached, then the file was quickly closed. The Syrian nation still hopes and it is its right to hope that this file would be opened again. Until now, the authority did not present any justifications other than the need and necessity for the centers of powers, the new position of the authority and the "old guards".
The demagogic authority
calls the defects, the gaps of the successful revolution that have the ability
for self-clearance. I believe that the actual remainder of the
"revolution" had become rusty, as most intellectuals say, a long time
As for the social level,
the authority still talks about the social justice, and while discussing the
economical reformation it regards the social problem. It is impossible to
imagine social justice in a generalized totalitarian repression, which denies
the masses' participation in making decisions, deprives the nation of its
rights and freedoms, cancels the parties and overcomes the media, education and
culture. If we consider that the existence and continuity of the authority are
the main measures for sketching the policies, then talking about the social
justice is not more than an empty demagogy, which breaks once it approaches the
Syrian actual reality. The reports and the comparison between
The neutral reports confirm
that the middle-class or the small bourgeois, which was the womb of the regime,
suffers from corruption on all the levels, the economical, the social, the
political and the moral one. Also, the reports and interposition of the various
forums clarified that three fourth of the national wealth is monopolized by a
little group from the top of the authority. The rest of the nation, mostly,
lives in continuous search for earning the minimum of survival. The position of
It was necessary to concentrate on the social justice because this slogan or its alternative "the social democracy" had always been repeated to face the political democracy. Hiding behind the social justice was an essential introduction to cancel the political democracy. During the entire 20th century, we have heard enough varieties of this speech. Today, we witness the speech's deterioration and the decline of its experiments. Thus, the crucial factors are in the history and the Syrian reality, which related to each other and accorded at the end. One communist newspaper of the Syrian front's Party issued after the collapse of the socialist experiences the following: "what lessons do we need from this descent?" "Facing the political democracy by the social democracy without perceiving that an isolated one could not be guaranteed without the other means, as a result, sacrificing both of them"(6).
To tell the truth, the
result is identical with what happened in
Another social problem was, the authority's politicizing of all the masses'
organizations, transferring them away from the real nature of their goals and
considering the struggle to achieve these goals a crime. Due to the authority's
point of view, the real role of these organizations was to consolidate its
policy, defend it and propagate for its justifications about the actual retreat
of living and human rights. The famous clause of Lenin "Labor Associations
should struggle against their own authority", had
gone. If the problem of politicizing the organizations and associations is
accepted, abandoning their economical and social role is unaccepted because, in
this case, we would have annexed organizations and authority's associations.
This rejected position happened in
The citizenship and human
rights are worse in
As for the associations and
organizations, the right of collective negotiation about the salaries is
deprived, but it is available in the private sector. One of the real human
social problems is related to the thousands of people, who were deprived of
their civil and political rights according to the incriminations of the
During the Shishekli time, any restricted interference with the affairs of an association or a sports club or a cultural forum was firmly condemned. Now, the interference became memories from the past because every gathering organization is a part of the authority structure.
A wounded citizen in a strike against the authority was a shame for the authority and a declaration of war. Today, the strike against the authority became a memory from the past as well, as long as no one has the courage to think about it. Tens and more people died by torture in the basements of security or later in the prisons without any reactions. The worst matter in the totalitarian repression is the disparagement of the human life and soul, and disrespect for the sacred right of the human creature in living. The "scarcity of life" term does not exist in the totalitarian dictionary. For example, the Massacre of Palmyra prison in 27.06.1980 by Ref'at Assad, if there was a bit of respect for law, human rights and the sacred right of living, could that ever happen?
We would refer to one law of the state security directory, which is hidden and prohibited. The Law of the Legislative decree No. 549, dated 25.05.1969, which included in the Article No. 74 the following:
"It is prohibited to pursue any employee of the State Security Department, whether deputized, seconded or directly contracted, due to crimes which result from the job, or during resuming it, before he is remitted to the disciplinary council of the department and issuing a pursuing order from the director". This was our constitution, and we know what really happened, thus, we expect that this constitution would be placed in the museum of history, so that the coming generations would know what sort of grandfathers they had.
Not only striking became a memory from past, but also everything that had a relation with political rights and freedoms. Why not? As long as totalitarianism includes everything, there is no meaning to talk about free elections, voting, sovereignty of the nation, power of the law or the peaceful alternation of authority. During three decades, all these expressions were not necessary, plus, three generations had no idea about them.
Also, we need to refer to
the social position of the governing elite and the main officials in the
military and security institutions. In spite of differences, both political
totalitarian systems of
If we regard this
testimony, then we should consider this subject and look for the responsible
one about the mechanism of exceeding the democratic scheme. One phenomenon of
the totalitarian system features is the inheritance of government, like in
The mentioned phenomenon transformed the nation into an audience who watched a play in a theater. The masses became like a stupid witness of his own future, who cannot decide nor has the right to do anything about it. Furthermore, this phenomenon spread into the front, so, it became normal to find the children or wives succeed in leading the commissions of their fathers or husbands, the same spread into the ministry ranks. This phenomenon clarifies that there are no qualified cadres other than the responsible commissions and their relatives. Anyhow, the lack of qualified people is the responsibility of the previous commissions.
On a mutual level, between
judiciary, associations and politics, a statement signed by 70 lawyers included
demands, which showed clearly the bad position of the judicial system and the
association of the lawyers. The demands concerned the termination of the state
of emergency, the release of general freedoms and issuing a law for the parties
that organizes the political life in
4 - On the Economical Level:
All the economical experts, inside or outside, have unanimity that the Syrian economy has a structural crisis. A lot had been said about the real reasons of the crisis, its features and the destructive results, but we are mainly concerned with what relates to totalitarianism and its resulting factors. In fact, the public sector was the fundamental base for the rise and growth of bureaucratic bourgeois through many ways of legal and illegal theft, which are known for everybody. The ruling bureaucratic authority used these methods to create political loyalties by a series of services and gifts, which included free housing, free telephone, personal car and others. The services equal an income of at least 30 thousand Syrian Pounds per person. This is a simple example of the present positions, which most suffering people watch and witness around.
During the past three decades, the Syrian bureaucracy made endless efforts to redistribute the incomes in a way that contradicted every law or legitimacy or tradition or logic. In spite of all the reformation steps in the country, the authority continued the redistribution of incomes in its queer way. We would refer to one present example about the Mobile Phone Company or companies, which monopolize the whole cash inflow. Actually, this immoral conduct led us to this dark horizon, or the closed one.
The public sector includes real contradictions of ideological or political or social attitudes, such as, the attitude that guarantees the continuity of this sector. The same is applied for the government, Party and associations' bureaucracy and the word "Bureaucracy" in general with limited differences that relate to the grade of bureaucracy and other reasons of ideological or social or political reference. The public sector was and still represents the social and economical capital of bureaucracy, plus, the real creator of its privileges, fortunes and dominating presence.
On the other hand, the left in general, especially the dogmatic left, supports the existence of this sector. Without a necessary review for its existence and function, the left believes in the necessity of reforming the public sector on all levels, especially, the technological and the administrative levels. In general, the bourgeois groups call for liberating the public sector because of its bad position, high costs and permanent loss. The fact is that the bourgeois are not interested in exceeding these defaults of the public sector but to get rid of it and have control over the economy of the country. Usually, classes and groups look for their own benefits rather than the benefit of the country. Other political and social groups call for complete review of the public sector's concept and the role in any economical planning or in achieving the social and economical development. Thus, the public sector should neither be canceled nor just reformed but should have a role within the whole historical development because the governmental sector has to exist. Actually, the elements and consistencies of the public sector have to be, completely, studied with its interior structure too.
The national left groups that have an open criticizing attitude instead of the classical dogmatic well-known attitude that adheres to the government however it is, support this comprehensive criticizing review. Probably, the left bourgeois groups, as well, stand to this side. In all cases, the social matter and the social function, in addition to the economical function of the public sector remain essential and deep in all its discussions, which will affect its containment, function and future. Whether declared or not, the necessity for a dialectical relation between the social and the economical role of the public sector should be improvised. Thus, this sector would be able to function, effectively, for the comprehensive development and exceed the dark horizon, plus, launch into real commencement away from superficial, restricted ideology and egoist-narrowed benefits.
I would like to refer here that I do not know where the laborers of this sector stand? Who are the actual producers of fortunes, whose strive and fatigue is stolen? Theoretically and historically, the laborers are supposed to stand to the side of the government sector and strengthen it. This supposition might not, necessarily, accord with reality or differ to what we have seen before the collapse of other totalitarian systems from the attitude of proletarian bureaucracy and the well-known dogmatic left.
5 - The Information and Cultural Level:
The first procedure of the
totalitarian dominating systems is monopolizing the other opinion and marketing
the monist one. Obviously, this system would eliminate the newspapers,
magazines and other media means of political and cultural tendency. This is
what the Syrian government accomplished perfectly. Months ago, there were no
independent political newspapers in
In spite and because of
this severe block that continued for more than a quarter of a century,
satellites increased and the citizens were thrown open to the world. Still, the
Internet remained limited, supervised and controlled by the security
institutions, which closed every hole that they did not feel comfortable with,
whether political, social or historical. In spite of all the promises to
increase the Internet lines and to decline the control, a continuous old-new
war goes on between the authority and the users of the Internet. This reminds
us of Stalin's attitude at the beginning of the 20ies in
We are in front of dual fear, first, a tragic fear that caries the country because of the authority and its practices, especially, the security institutions, which control and interfere with everything, and secondly, the fear of the authority from the masses. What hopes could be expected from the destroying terror of a frightened, decayed and let out nation, and an authority that suffers day and night from the hallucinations of security?
"It might be necessary
to repeat that the spring of Damascus is still in its beginnings. The attempt
to achieve unanimity agreement and national unity does not belong to the
society of a "parrot" and mono side official speech, but to the world
of political and economical plurality and multiple cultural visions'(9). Thanks to Salamah for this confession
that the intended spring is the spring of plurality. Agreement and national
union are endeavors to be accomplished. Thus, the claims of the authority are
only justifications. Imposing orders from above by force and fear is completely
different from executing them, normally, by the base with deep
self-satisfaction. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the Syrian citizen
neglects the information of the authority, entirely, and looks for other
sources to obtain the news, information and analysis, especially, that which
relate to the interior position of
The methods of information
means, which consolidated the memory loss and brainwash, were numerous.
Wherever you go in
In addition, the intensive
presence included all ceremonies, processions, scientific weeks and culture,
inauguration of constructions and festivals. Without any exception, all the
occasions were presented in the official media under the care of the president.
Thus, his presence and, later on his family, was
obvious and accepted without discussion. The official title of the president
was mentioned with the addition of "the struggler", which is
reasonable and accepted, but once protocol is exceeded, the span is open for
literal and radical rebuking composition that could not be imagined or accepted.
Furthermore, some flatterers would complain from the language deficiency to
describe the president's glory. Besides, the history and biography of the
president was rewritten and his present was reflected on his past, thus, each
step of his life was prior and logical that led into another spontaneous step.
Since his birth, he was described as unique and distinguished person in all the
measures. These images were presented by visions that could only create of him
the first leader of his Party and the struggling movement of
The same ways were applied to deal with his eldest son and his tomb, later on. The ways reached to unbelievable and non-logical extents when the grave of the son was transformed into a permanent pilgrimage to be visited by the official and unofficial delegations from inside and outside the country to present their obligations of respect and glorifying, or rather sanctifying. Anyhow, it is necessary to say that these aspects retreated, noticeably, in the new age of presidency.
In all cases, the Syrian
official media did not reach the imaginary and legendary extents that
The Syrian media, greatly, lacked the human spirit, the spirit of criticism and citizenship, or the objective spirit and the minimum limit of credibility. The most dangerous thing is the reduction of history, country, nation and authority in one person. All the other institutional, social and individual presence loose the meaning of their existence and value, and if they were found. They obtain their presence from the worshiped person, they live to serve him and feel proud to be his folks and execute his will that could not be rejected or discussed. The dangerous thing is that everything in life became a gift from the authority, which is personified with excellence, and a favor that should not be fed up of repeating praises and thanks day and night. Simply, this means that the reality, the rights of the citizens and the power of the masses are forgotten. There were no rights to be obtained but not less or more than graces that are given from above. In brief, the nation was transformed into a folk and a subject of the personified authority's will. Retaining the self-individuality and collectivity, and the training for citizenship need more freedom, wisdom, courage and time. According to the close connection of culture with politics and media, what culture could be imagined in such totalitarian systems, whether related to the cultural institutions or being an expression of consciousness, values, morals and art?
This is a testimony from the writer and the poet Shauki Bagdadi. He talked about the negatives of the Arab Union of Writers that was transferred, gradually, from a cultural organization into a political organization annexed to the authority in most of its directions and ideas. All its possibilities of multiple ideas and attitudes are hidden and melted in one opinion and one attitude. Then Bagdadi proceeded about the killing of creativeness except in rare cases(10).
Again, the problem is the authority's politicization of social, cultural and professional organizations. Consequently, we have the problem of dependency and the destruction of creativity. Once the position of culture is deteriorated, what can we expect other than the domination of demagogical and ideological speech and the mono official political speech? Freedom is the essence of creativity, so, creativity is assassinated by repression. Kawakebi said about despotism the following: "Despotism spoils one of the important two parts of religion, first the morals, second the worships. Thus, despotism would not approach the second because it suites its system"(11). Also, he said "The despotic has no fear of religious sciences, which relate to what is repeated and specified with what connects the person and his God, because they do not eliminate stupidity or exclude haze". Besides, "The autocrats are scared of other sciences of life, such as, the theoretical wisdom, the philosophy of mind, the rights of the nations, the sociological dispositions, the civil policy and others".
Starting from history and
reality, there are sorts of creativeness that exist and flourish in the
totalitarian system. During the last three decades, some of this creativity
Even if understandable, this escape to the past is unacceptable. One side of the historical novel's creativity is the result of totalitarianism, and in the other sides, the result of the tragic historical position, which the social, nationalistic and national matters passe through. The position that transfers to the past to fortify for facing the present is distressful recoil, which the societies still suffer from. Probably, the intensive national mind structure of the Arabic intellectual, especially the Syrian, has a role for this historical fall back, because the use of history's weapon presents an element, which is more than just adaptation to totalitarianism. This element accomplishes some individual and collective self-satisfaction as a psychological reaction, but not a mindful reaction to the defeated present. Still, because of that too, the absence of the real narratives, or non-flourishing, which recount our real present, is a real scandal for the writers and a clear accusation to the totalitarian system, too. Although some stories talk about the sorrows, grieves and problems of the current position, yet, they do not represent the prevailing position or are not the prominent scenes in the narration.
The instinctive increase of
plastic arts is not only a result of avocations, but a part of it is a way of
self-expression to relieve from the nightmare of repression and the decline of
allowed margins. Today, while
Almost the same could be noticed in Cinema, Theater, TV and Radio. The movies of nowhere, no-time and historical fantasias fill the actual present. Accordingly, while the Syrian drama is flourishing, the realistic films are opposed and rejected. Sometimes, the works remain inside the drawers for years unseen by the masses. From time to time, these works might be presented in the international festivals of cinemas or in private theaters for very limited audience before they are spoiled or hidden.
The intellectual and cultural works do not have to indicate anything meaningful or useful because they can only relate to history or other fields or complete theories. Thus, anyone can talk about freedom as a form of living in other people's world, also, about despotism but outside the Syrian frontiers and never inside. Still, the censorship must be sure that the writer is restricted to theoretical range without reference to the tangible and absolute position of the political repression and without demanding anything related to it. The official speech considers the actual totalitarian system is a democratic nationwide system in which the unique real liberty is prevailed. Consequently, the system and its representatives consider themselves unrelated to despotism because they are democratic and free according to their own way, which is the best and only true way, plus, being a pioneering way. It is not the problem of the regime that the others comprehend and analyze the position differently, but, beware of declaring, and watch out for the personal, private and what relates to the system.
The political caricature,
for example, is an excellent satirical criticizing art. Still, it is so
difficult to find one caricature about the policies of the Syrian system in the
Syrian newspapers. The political field of
The attitude of the political totalitarian system from the cultural aspects is similar to the attitude of despotism from religion, as Kawakebi mentioned. As long as it does not approach the fields that the system considers prohibited or sacred, the culture can come closer to other fields with the demanded attention and care. But, what would the culture do if sooner or later it would face a clash with the totalitarian nightmare? Culture is a criticizing, open, deep and artistic mental creativity that aims for reshaping life in a democratic human and logical vision, which establishes the bases of the most honorable human values, like right, welfare, beauty, love and others. If culture is so, then it has to have a safe distance from any political system. Thus, what is the position of culture if the political system is totalitarian?
In brief, we can say that under the conditions of totalitarianism creativity might find an escape in certain fields, but its scheme would be narrow, fragile and full of danger. Other than that, there are related fields to the political mind, the philosophy of ruling and the catastrophic results in the society, plus, the matters of freedoms, duties and the dominating practices. Indulging in any aspect of the mentioned matters is a great risk.
Finally, we have to mention that this research treats the past period in the actual present time. Therefore, many of the above mentioned prohibitions and fears have been exceeded to the extent that it became allowed to release partial freedom of speech, which is restricted by many red lines and authority's sacredness.
1) I mean the "Totalitarian" system, which means the "whole" system. I preferred the first because it is easier to be spelled and more used.
2) In regard to the execution or non-execution of judgments, the executive power decides this, but the presidency has the last decision, including the canceling of sentences.
3) The law No. 36 added the
term of "military weapons" on
4) "Nidal Al Sha'ab" newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Syrian communist Party's central commission, No. 602, 31.3.2001, p. 13.
5) This does not mean that
the totalitarian current regime is a normal continuity to the established
6) "Nidal Al Sha'ab" newspaper, previous source, p. 5.
7) From the lecture of Dr.
Azmi Besharah "The Reality and Mind of the Civil Society, A Middle-Eastern Reading". This lecture is the last
chapter of his book about the civil society in general, edition of the
publication of a citizen in
8) "Nidal Al Sha'ab" newspaper, previous source, p. 11.
9) Al Thawra newspaper,
10) Al Muharer Al Arabi
newspaper, No. 285, from the 10th till
11) Abed Al Rahman AL Kawakebi, "The Disposition of Despotism", Dar Al Sharq Al Arabi, 4th edition, p. 102.
An Entrance to Read "Plurality"
Abdel Razaq Eid(*)
"Plurality" as a philosophical concept considers all that exist are combined of many-isolated equivalent constitutes, which cannot belong into one single source. On the contrary, the concept of 'Monism' indicates that the base behind all existence is one source. The opinions about plurality were the base of the Monad theory for Leibinz. Monad refers to the unified fundamental structure of existence, which was once the essence of the world, and once, the only source of being. According to Leibinz, the Monad is a simple closed unchangeable essence.
Therefore, plurality is used in the field of sociology, as a base for denying the single limited principal for the society. Plurality tends to present for the world a vision that exceeds monism, which might be a materialistic or idealistic vision. While the materialistic monism indicates that the materials are the essence of the world, the idealistic monism considers the soul or the idea as the fundamental essence. According to the classical Marxist definitions, the philosophy of G.W.F Hegel has the most idealistic trend toward monism; consequently, dialectical materialism starts from the reality which points out that world's nature is materialistic and all its phenomena are various forms of moving material. This materialism of Marxist philosophy extends to the social phenomena as well(1).
Considering the former theories, plurality in the Arab Islamic knowledgeable unconsciousness becomes within two frames, the frame of the one and only vision of God, where any plurality is polytheism and paganism, and the frame of leftist ideology (nationalism and Marxism). Nationalism regards the nation as one unified essence and absolute soul above place and time, as a closed spiritual unchangeable Monad, hence being immortal and absolute, it is clarified in "immortal mission" for one Arab nation of one fundamental identity and language with specific knowledge and merciful faith(2).
After Marxism became "Soviet", Stalin turned it into a collection of "commandments" in his book " The Fundamentals of Lenin", which is one of the most famous spread books. This book seems to be the main source, or the only one, for the communists who came after the establishment of the commune and the beginning of attracting the international communist parties into the soviet monism center. Marxism, thus, could not produce more than a mono trend of knowledge level to replace the religious monotheism or to argue with it and in most cases, Marxism had a magical metempsychosis effect. Therefore, the human history becomes a personification of its definite existence that moves according to one universal law, the "class conflict", which would definitely lead, in every place and time, to a united human society where plurality and variety are canceled. According to Stalinic reading of Marxism, plurality and variety (national, ethic and religious) should be nationalized to the benefit of a human universal model (Robot). Accordingly, human history would be subjugated to this mono aim to obligate the human history to become an organized transition within five forms. So, the multiplicity of paths, the dissimilarities of specifications, the methods of development and the transfer from one combination to another, is a heresy that harms the unity of the human development!
This general introduction requires investigating the nucleus, which rejects the principal of ideological, cultural and political plurality in the Syrian society, as well as, finding its representation in some historical periods, which could be described as liberal and some other marginal achievements that mixed with ideological-political trends (Islamic - Nationalist - Marxist).
Rejecting Nucleus - episteme:
In general, the French Encyclopedia defines Plurality as a multiplicity of ideologies and directions in different political, social, economical and religious fields. Philosophically, plurality is being defined against monism, whereas the truth is formed independently and unable to be abbreviated into a single principle(3).
Robert Dictionary adds that plurality comes from variable combinations of beings, specified and unbound to absolute truth. Plurality is the political system that depends on many means of organizational multiplicity. The Larousse considers the concept of plurality as a political, social, economical and others, which admits the multiplicity and the variety of opinions and directions. On the philosophical level, plurality is a doctrine, which only adopts compound single structures inside the world(4).
The philosophical Soviet Encyclopedia criticizes plurality because it is against the materialistic mono source of existence according to the previous concepts and later definitions, which confirm the social, political and economical plurality. Besides, plurality starts from rejecting the absolute truth and requires the admittance of relativity, moreover, the recognition of the single being as a rational sane and the owner of his life, body and mind. The ownership of life, body and mind will produce the liberty of thinking and expression that enriches the self-initiated creativity. The free human would develop the concept of "objection &contradiction" that establishes the social and cultural plurality, whereas, variety is the essence of dialectic. Dialectic is the origin of nature, progress and creativity(5).
Without doubts, all these concepts would lead to a free liberal system. Also, "objection & contradictions" as an equal concept of plurality would be the result of long liberal history which formed Stewart Mill's book "In the Freedom", which had an international and Arabic reputation as the writings of Ahmed Lutfi Al Saeid, Taha Hussein and Mohammed Hasanain Haykal indicated(6).
The first Arabic liberal
approach to the concept of plurality in the pattern of freedom and an
epistemological knowledgeable vision was by Taha Hussein through his comparison
between East and West. He recognized between two minds, the western
philosophical mind and the eastern religious mind. While he was establishing
for the two intellectual systems, he wanted to enter the world of sociology and
politics to grasp the distinctions between both eastern and western world. Taha
said in his precursor, episteme, book "Leaders of
Thoughts" in 1925: "Greek cities witnessed Royalty, Republic,
Aristocracy, radical and moderate Democracy, which influence is still very
Why this plurality system
of governing and the liberty of individuals and groups in
"Because, the Greek
life, which at the beginning yield to poetry then, obeyed the mind had the most fruitful life that the human being ever
knew in the
That is how Taha Hussein presents to us two knowledgeable systems, which are formed in two patterns: mind and poetry, plurality and monism.
Mind = philosophy = liberty = variable and changeable political systems
(Royalty- Republic- Aristocracy- Democracy) meaning Plurality.
Poetry = priesthood = prophet-hood = religion = unchangeable absolute
Royalty = despotism, meaning Monism.
The approach of Taha Hussein might be one of the first significations in the Arabic text about the epistemological mind, which is a system of thinking and a device of knowledge. Thus, due to the epistemological concept, mind is not the thinking nor knowledge but the mechanism that organizes thoughts and knowledge(9).
According to this epistemological understanding of the structure of mind, society and authority, the rejecting nucleus of plurality whether eastern, Arabic or Islamic is the mythical magical monist vision of the world and history.
Before the union with
We will go back to the
National Mass, being the unification of various national
willpower to defeat the French Colony. The National Mass included the
People's Party without its head Abed Al Rahman Al Shahbandar, who represented
the nationalist liberal secular tendency and was the most prominent radical
representative. Other people might say that the formation of the National Mass
was, indirectly, pointed against Al Shahbandar, who was obliged to live in
On 19th of October 1927, the National Mass was founded and marked the beginning of a new era of peaceful struggle and the end of armed fight. The supporters of the peaceful struggle held a conference in Beirut called "the National Conference of Beirut", which founded the National Mass that led a peaceful struggle from 1928 to 1945(11).
Actually, the National Mass
formed the historical base for the Syrian liberality. With the foundation of the
Mass, the main weight of the national movement was transferred from suburbs to
cities. The national movement was composed of armed fighting groups, rural
leaderships, civil parties and political leaderships, which were formed by the
elite of cities' rich people, the growing industrial and commercial bourgeois,
middle class and educated people. In this climate, the political history
founded the start of the civil society's organizations, the recognition of
Plurality and the peaceful alternation of authority before the military coups
d`etat. Later on, after the dissolution of the National Mass it was divided
into two big Parties that peacefully competed for the authority: the People's
Party and National Party. That happened in year 1947 after the shocking death
of Sa'adallah AL Jaberi on
In this context, the civil
political practice, the recognition of plurality and the alternation of
authority did not lead after the explosion of the National Mass into attacks,
arrestments and eliminations. That period was unlike what
The political conflict and
the turn into governmental or parliamentary legitimacy falsify the conclusions
of some Orientalists like, Jack Burke who says that the severe recognition
(personal ideological splits) replaces the original voluntary national will.
Seal talks about plurality, which ruled the wide political gatherings that were
known in the Arab world. He expressed that the national impulse in any Arab
region was inclined to establish a broad heterogeneous gathering, such as,
National Mass in
Max Faber found that the administrative revolution (bureaucracy), which applied the principle of labor's social division as a practice of rationalism, was not less than the industrial revolution that replaced the old tools of production by the vapor machines. Therefore, the administrative revolution should be considered a fundamental transition for the powers of production, where the three ideal models of the triple authority, as Faber suggested were found: the legal-rational authority, the classical authority and the aureole authority(15).
Liberalism that founded the
political-rational authority in the political life of
After the elections of 1947,
Shukri Al Kuatli, who desired to renew his election, wanted to take the chance
of Sa'adallah Al Jabri's death, the Prime minister who opposed the desire of
the president, to present the draft law for reforming Article No.68 of the
constitution. The adjustment of the constitution caused the collapse of the
Syrian parliamentary system after 14 months. This condition remained until
Khaled Al Azem came from
This means that the Syrian political liberality, National Mass, People's Party and National Party, through establishing a new modern administrative system, based on legal-rational authority, permitted a person, who did not belong to counterpoises of political and parliamentary masses, to form a ministry more than once. Besides, he was appointed the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Supply. Unlike the dominating principle of loyalty nowadays, the Syrian political liberality gave chances according to the principal of qualification. Thus, there is no justice to consider the splits and conflicts through the period of independence as a type of severe distinctions that replaced the original nationality as Jack Burke thought. In fact, the liberal ruling system depended on these anti national distinctions instead of a legal-rational, civil and modern system in its legal and administrative structure. If the conflicts of the liberal system leaned on personal, ideological and local factors, it would not have permitted the first military coups d`etat, nor their later revolutionary coups d`etat, or, the military rural domination, last of all. Moreover, It would not have accepted a system that rejected the natural history of society, which grew through civil and legal organizations that based on national concordances, plurality of political parties and ballot boxes, which were distorted into a Muppet show to watch the parliaments' moving dummies inside.
Liberalism/ The Miserable Mind:
The best theoretical model of the Syrian liberal mind is Abd Al Rahman Al Shahbandar. He combined between the practical and theoretical practice through his political roles since the first government during King Faisal's era when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This interpenetration explains the executive function of his writings. Al Shahbandar wrote "The Grand Social Affairs in the Arab World", which was published as essays in Al Moktataf magazine during the thirties, then printed in a book in 1936.
The book had an executive
function because it included an educative work program, which was meant for
performance. The writer tried to form a vision of a governing system that
accorded with the needs of the Syrian and Arabic society. The book was not only
directed to the Syrian readers, but to all Arabs. It was printed in
Mental misery could be inspired through Al Shahbander's speech, which merges between plurality and monism, parliamentary and Kamali experience, admiration of Democracy and the attraction to the national socialist models (Fascism & Nazism). Without doubt, the text was written before Nazism and Fascism uncovered the catastrophes, which led the world into it. Through the rising of Nazism and fascism, they intersected with the Turkish Kamali renaissance that was considered as a life after death.
The Kamali rise differed
from Fascism and Nazism because "it did not only overcome the government
and nation that were headed by Caliph, who pounded to inherited cults, but
also, it achieved a magnificent victory at war. It won a war against a foreign
country supported with alliances, mainly,
Al Shahbandar admired the Kamali's renovated fight in all the religious, social and legislative fields, as well as, the abandonment of most conservative systems, which were related to personal affairs, like marriage, divorce and inheritance. Thus, all the former aspects were replaced by the latest modern systems that progressed in the west with a little adjustment.
Moreover, Al Shahbandar
considered the Kamali's experiment as a model and a proof against those
"who claimed that the revolution has no advantages". He wondered that
"if the nationalists yield to Caliph Mohammed the 6th and his government,
and accepted the terrible humiliating 'Sever convention', then where would be
the Turks today? What would the corrupted
Certainly, it is possible
to sacrifice plurality for the benefit of oneness and democracy for the sake of
dictatorship by the name of fast achievement. Meaning, to
sacrifice the constitutional legitimacy by the name of the revolutionary
legitimacy. That is how the Arabic system became. It seems that
Shahbandar's questions were to establish the Syrian and Arabic political
systems. Moreover, he assisted to sketch the political-intellectual spectacle
In the next step, while Al
Shahbandar praised the Kamali's revolutionary experience he entitled his
scheduled intentions directly in "The Best Forms of Governing in the Arab
World". He explained clearly that "people should insist on the
correct parliamentary form that based on free election". This form suited
the countries of "restricted independence by mandatory or protection and
other ways of foreign interference with their own affairs". On the other
hand, if the Arab country is completely independent, then, the best way was to
be governed by a "fair Autocrat" who would save the country from
anarchism, especially, in the countries that were not familiar with the
constitutional affairs as in our regions. Although
Al Shahbandar was an
intellectual and a worker. He used the mind with the support of experience and
reality. Actually, the Algerian experience proved the correctness of the
parliamentary experience because people could impose their representatives on
the colonialist. When the government refused the representatives, the people
re-elected them again. In
Through experience, Al Shahbandar presented a comparison between two conditions in Arab history, which were before and after the constitution of 1908. People had their worst times during the nightmare rule of Sultan Abed Al Hameed. They thought that after declaring the constitution, obtaining free election and liberty of speech, they would become satisfied and alive. In fact, reality showed that the free election allowed the commoners to fill the parliamentary council and transform the dangerous political affairs of the state into an investigation about women's veil, size, style and thickness of the material. Therefore, it was a great disaster to have the ignorant crowd and the commoners rule the elite(18).
What to do if plurality would lead to the quantitative multiplicity on the expense of the qualified elite?
Abd Al Aziz Ben Sauod chose the oneness of quality. Soon, Sauod's Bedouinism shocked the democratic nationalist educated liberal individuals. Sauod was neither a Mussolini nor a Kamal Ataturk. If that wise king was brought up according to modern cultivation and the influence of renaissance he would not have lost the chance of Arab leaders gathering around him and using his privileged independence as the center to spread the Arab propaganda for the whole world. Unfortunately, all the Arabic efforts to make him rise had failed(19).
Then, what would be the choice if plurality leads to the domination of the ignorant multiplicity and monism, which presented one model of ignorant retarded Bedouin dictatorship?
This question would be asked again, but with a more theoretical and refined level, to Yaseen Al Hafez. He looked for the historical reconciliation among the heritage of the liberal enlightenment, without its economical period, the Nasseri trend, as a model of nationalist revolution and Socialism, as a prospect for the future.
Marxism/ The Enlightenment:
At the same period, Saleem Khayatah wrote from a different nationalist attitude. He had a leftist democratic nationalist attitude that belonged to the Syrian-Lebanese communist movement before establishing the subsidiary Commune in 1936.
At that time, the leftist magazine, Al Talee'ah, which was initiated by the communist Party, was establishing for a continuous relation among the renaissance mind, Arab enlightenment and the Social Arab movement, which did not yet produce the distinctions between communism and Al Ba'ath Party. It was the same period when the pioneers of socialist thoughts were producing socialist beliefs, illuminations and revivals full of national and nationalist spirits. That was before the communist party joined the communes and the policy of alliances, which led the communist party, later, to ally with the French colony by the excuse of defeating Nazism and Fascism. Actually, Saleem's writings were the result of starting the subsidiary relation with the Soviet policy and a response for the policy of alliances, which were suggested by the Soviet external diplomatic school.
During the thirties, the movement of Arab enlightenment raised and ended with the termination of the Second World War. Al Talee'ah magazine attempted to reach the main enlightened intellectual Arab individuals, with hope to become deepened in the history of the national education. That hope was not allowed by the classes of communism nor Ba'ath nationalists or Islamic religious fanatics.
Saleem's Marxists attitude, which was nationally enlightened before the communes of communism confiscated it, hoped to make Marxism an expansion of renaissance. Also, he wanted Marxism to be methodical, rather than signs and rituals, as what occurred, later on, when the Arab socialist movement transferred from composing into translating from Dar Al Takadom. The final resignation of the local Marxist mentality abandoned creativity for the sake of the big communist comrade, Stalin.
Actually, Saleem was not directly involved with political actions like, Al Shahbandar. Saleem avoided the involvement through the matters and systematical problems of the communist Party as Nicola Shawi, his student and the secretary-general of the Lebanese communist Party said in his autobiography. Nicola praised his teacher, Saleem, due to his role for gathering the communist Party, even though, not much interested with the organizational affairs. Therefore, instead of replacing the non-Arabic element by Arabic one, Saleem had an intellectual response about Arabizing the communist Party. He wanted to reproduce a Marxist method, environment, sphere and way of thinking on a higher level, which exceeded the present mentality. Thus, the French colony, which perceived his genius mind, attacked Saleem and his friends lost him because of their fear or envies. So, for more than 25 years he was not found anywhere(20).
As Taha Hussein did, Saleem compared between the Eastern and Western mind according to the current epistemic definition. He said: "The mind is the combination of points of view, beliefs of thoughts, desires of soul and the methods of achievements and production in all the different fields of life according to the inspirations of the combination"(21).
Saleem investigated about
the first moment when the two religions, the Hebraic (Monotheism) and Greek
(Polytheism) split from their origin, the Old Egyptian religion. Accordingly,
the history of both minds was represented by the conflict between monotheism
and plurality, where each time one overcame the other. The turn over of the
Egyptian religion in the east toward monotheism and the immigration of
We do not want to agree or
disagree with Saleem's views, whom Sameer Ameen
considered the result of the European Centrality's tendency that sketched a
straight line to connect with
With the concept of "plurality", the Greek founded a big crowd of Gods, which distributed authorities among themselves and differentiated each one by his function, characteristics and symbolism. As a result, there became an integration of life with its creators. Thus, life became a self-creator, for example: love, lover and God of love became one. That is how the Greek, due to their plurality, grasped a truth which the modern scientific mind could not reach more than they did. It is the idea which indicates that all what concern existence are included inside the existence and not outside it, besides, the dynamic power of existence is included within it and comes from it. Therefore, the Greek religion was a religion of life, reality and nature. There were no inclines to organizations of class function consisting of clergymen and rulers nor reconciliation toward supernatural powers. At this point, we reach the theory of class struggle, which administrates the philosophy of history logic that was achieved by Marx. Saleem did not present for us the opinions of Marx, but only explained and interpreted them as the directors of the Stalinic sanctum, who transferred Marxism and Leninism into an icon.
Saleem's aim in dealing with "plurality" was not to practice his hobby of thinking but to reach its causes and results. Mainly, the mind of plurality "gave the world the inspiration of the Republican system on the political level, Pythagoras paved the way for Einstein, Euclid and Archimedes paved the way for Newton and Galileo on the scientific level. On the philosophical level, Nietzsche was the natural son of Diogenes and Socrates was before Kant and Tolstoy".
Saleem's Marxist plurality free mind enabled him to liberate from the later calls for the partiality of philosophy, or accusing F. Neitzsche and Kant as undeveloped thinkers, according to the briefs of the soviet philosophical books. Following the broad mentality toward all human culture on the personal level and national level, Saleem found that the Arabic mind was still in need for the enlightenment of Kant and Tolestoy through analyzing socialism which could not be reached by a mind of middle aged background. Later, Yaseen Al Hafez developed the ideas of Abdullah Al Arwi. Accordingly, we can perceive the recent modern minds of Saleem Khayatah and Yaseen Al Hafez.
Actually, Saleem uncovered most scandals of Nazism and Fascism in his book "Hamiat in the West", which was written in Arabic language during the thirties. Through his historical dialectical vision he discovered the essence of Fascism which Al Shahbandar could not inspire with his liberal nationalist mind. Saleem considered Fascism "a phenomenon of return to monotheism like, the Fascist dictatorship, which was based on the concept of one totalitarian absolute ruling due to the influence of the mono eastern mind in the western countries nowadays"(23). He concluded his interesting research about monism of the Arabic mind that it was similar to Hebraic mind, which whenever tended to Greek plurality, the mind became creative in the fields of philosophy, poetry and narration (ex. Thousand Nights and a Night) and in science, which distinguished the east and surpassed the west at that time. Art (sculptures, theatrical actions, Philharmonic music) was blocked by monism spirit. Finally, after a long conflict with plurality, the Arabic mind inclined to monotheism and remains there since more than one thousand years.
Conclusion - from Plurality to Monotheism:
If we borrow what Saleem
said about the history of human mind, being a conflict between plurality and
monotheism, to apply it for the Syrian modern history, we can say that the
political Syrian mind started comprehending plurality after the declaration of
the constitution in 1908. This means, after 10 centuries of monism. Actually,
That liberal period of Syrian history, from 1908 to 1958, had its legitimacy based on legal-rational tendencies, which produced a government of executive and legislative organizations that renewed its administrative structure. According to Max Faber, that period was a revolution, which established new schools, political party's multiplicity, associations, newspapers, a peaceful alternation of authority and all what insured the legal scheme of the state and gave a new concept for nationality by considering the individual as a legal being.
Through this liberal atmosphere, revolutionary trends were formed and even had the chances to turn over the constitutional legislation guided by good intentions, urged by world revolutionary atmospheres and the idea of surpassing stages. This rush made the nationalist mind worry about the necessity of creating (a nationalist Hero) as a representative of the capable elite to lead the nation with the vision of a "Fair Autocrat".
This sort of liberalism, which began the experience of establishing the core of civil society, social and political plurality (cultural, intellectual and partiality) started under the colonial domination that restrained the national and nationalist prospects. That is why the revolutionary legitimacy relied, at the beginning, on the real national will through Nasseri charisma, then turned into the comprehensive charisma of Abd Al Nasser's successors, who repeated his procession in a tragic way. It seemed that those who came later fulfilled Hegel's triple theory of same repeated history and repeated their predecessors' conduct in a caricatured form.
Going back to monism and gradual greed for authority through developing despotism, liberality became a nostalgic wound. Due to all national and nationalist defeats and rulers' meanness, which transferred the countries into farms, the Nasseri moment was recalled because it represented a necessary symbolic capital for the nationalist dignity, virtue and decency.
Many factors affected people's longing for the past because of the constitutional manipulation of authority and legislation, as well as, the retreat and fade of society by the dominant state. Also, the government released all the legitimate forms and descended into an authority of piracy and group of thieves, besides, it transformed the parties' plurality into multiplicity of copies. Moreover, the praising ruling Party reincarnated through caricatured plurality in the form of a Progressive National Front. All these occurrences made the yearning for the past the only prospect of people as long as the future seemed to be gloomy. This yearning is not only the hope of Islamic minds (revelation moment), but also the nationalist, liberal and Marxist minds. However, the utmost paradox is the attempt to produce double yearning for Plurality, to retain liberty, and for monism, to regain the national dignity and decency.
Therefore, the future of the Syrian society becomes related to dual recalling (nostalgia) for the national decency of Jamal Abed Al Nasser and the liberal decency of Khaled Al Azem.
Encyclopedia: M.Rosental, B. Yoreen. Translated by Sameer Karam,
revised by Sadek Jalal Al Azem, George Tarabeeshi. Al
Talee'ah publishing house in
2) This metaphysical speech was presented in the works of the pioneers of nationalist mind, such as: Zaki Al Arsuzi, Michael Aflak and Kustanteen Zuraik's foundational book "The Features of Nationalist Consciousness" in 1942. Although secularism was derived from the system of nationalist consciousness, it was a strange concept to the pioneers' ideologies. Secularism was the functional element that recognized the nationalist consciousness that faced the society of Middle Ages before nationalism. The nationalistic mind remained of mono spiritual essence until it was disassembled and reproduced by Yaseen Al Hafez in the sixties. See our book "Yaseen Al Hafez, Criticism of Modern Retardation".
Without doubt, there was an antecedent experience to release the nationalist mind from its metaphysical romance by Ra'eef Khuri, who submitted a critical book that disapproved the romantic tendency of K. Zuraik. The experience of Khuri seemed to be pioneering but isolated from the context of poetry, literary and cultural production. Actually, Yaseen Al Hafez reproduced a complete composition of democratic, secular, rational nationalistic mind. See our book "An Entrance to the Mind of Ra'eef Khuri" in which there was a complete part to discuss the pioneering rational dialogue between Khuri and Zuraik since the beginning of the 40ies.
3) CD: Encyclopedia, Hachette, 99.
4) Review 'Pluralism' in Robert dictionary and Larousse.
5) Review Abdullah Al Arwi
"The Concept of Liberty",
6) Previous source, p. 42.
7) "The Leaders of
Thoughts" by Taha Hussein, 8th volume, Lebanese Book publishing house,
8) Previous source, p. 193.
9) Review our book
"Taha Hussein, The Mind and Religion", a research about the problem
of method, civilized developmental center,
10) " The Conflict Over Syria", Patrick Seal, translated by Sameer Abdo and Mahmood Falaha, Tlass for Studies and Publishing, p. 16.
11) Dr. Abdullah Hanna "Abed Al Rahman Al Shahbandar (1879-1940), a scientist of enlightenment, a liberation and national man", Al Ahali, Damascus 1989, p. 129, 133.
12) "Conflict Over Syria", previous source, p. 47.
13) Previous source, p. 48.
14) "Political Arab
World" by Jack Burke, 11th volume, French Information Department,
15) "Elements for a Political Sociology" by Jean Pierre Monet and Jean Pierre Kote, translated by Antoine Homsi, Ministry of Culture, Damascus 1994, p. 312 to 318.
16) "The Social Affairs in the Arabic World" by Abd Al Rahman Shahbandar 1936, 2nd edition, 1993, presentation of Mohammed Kamel AL Khateeb, Ministry of Culture, Damascus, 1993, p. 86.
17) Previous source, p. 89, 90.
18) Previous source, p. 92, 95.
19) Previous source, p, 94.
20) Review our study in Al
Nahj magazine No.
21) "Saleem Khayatah", Al Duhoor magazine, Beirut, January 1934 No.1, 3rd volume of complete works, 1st part, "The Articles" a presentation by Mohammed Kamel Al Khateeb, Damascus 1989, p. 89.
22) Previous source, p. 90.
23) Previous source, p. 94.
The Political Parties
Mohammed Najati Tayarah(*)
Since the middle of 19th Century, during the administrative reformations and the cultural interaction with the West in the retarded Ottoman society of multiple cultures, the elite of Arabic Shami started expressing the tendencies of a national rise. At the beginning, this rise was clarified through an active revival of cultural circles and associations. Then, it developed into a political activity, public or classified, according to the marginal dΕtente or the return of despotism, especially, during the Hamidi and Turkinizing ages.
During the late Ottoman age(1), the limited
distributed circulars in 1880 of Secret Beirut association declared the first
written statement about the political independent program of Arabic nation in
Grand Syria. This was followed by the activity of "Ottoman Shoura"
The Age of Arab - Faisali Government:
During the short age of
this government (
- The Independence Party,
which was established in
- The Party of the Syrian
Union was established in
The Age of the French Colony:
After the occupation of
Inside, about two years
The Syrian Communist Party
was established by Joseph Yazbek, Fua'ad Al Shamali and some educated
individuals, plus, the laborers of Tobacco in 1924 in Kharnaiel -
After lifting Martial Laws in 1925, the political life started again. The Party of Independence started its activity, as well as, more than 25 small Parties that appeared during 1928 and 1934, but all vanished, later(6). The most prominent Parties were The Reformation, National Union, The Nation Royal, and The Free Constitutional. While most of these Parties were to the right of the National Mass, Al Shahbandar supporters of the General National Union with those who converted to The United National Front, plus, the public institutions, stood to the left. The most important new Parties were the following:
1) The People's Party:
established in 1925 as a result of unifying the delegations of
2) The National Mass: After
the fade of the Grand Syrian Revolution (1925 - 1926) the discordance
aggravated between the Syrian Nationalists, who were secularists of Hashimi
tendencies and Islamic of Saudi tendencies, especially, during the
Syrian-Palestinian Conference(8). Then,
Hashem Atasi called for a General National Conference in
3) The League of
Nationalist Work: It was born at the conference that was held in
4) The Syrian Social
Nationalist Party: Antoine Sa'ada established it, secretly, among his students
5) Muslim Brotherhood: This
mission was transferred from
The Period after
After the Syrian
Independence and the evacuation of the French in 1946, the country witnessed a
fertile period of constitutional political life that was tensioned, from time
to time. Actually, four prominent military coups d`etat occurred from 1949 to
1951. The fifth coup d`etat was in 1954, which occurred by the concordance of
the political and military powers. The concordance was due to the convention of
- First - The Directions of Nationalism:
A) AL Ba'ath Arab Social Party:
It was formed as a result
of Michel Aflak and Salah Al Bittar, Arabic Revival Movement's incorporation
with Zaki Al Arsuzi, Al Ba'ath Party. The Foundation Conference was held in
After participating in the parliamentary game, the Party's role enlarged. However, Ba'ath Party used to ally with the military coups d`etat and oppose it later. These contradicting attitudes reflected Aflak's paradoxical ideology. In fact, while his ideology recognized the Party as a nationalistic comprehensive revolt, at the same time, it was declaring about respecting the essential freedoms of the individuals and confirming the liberal democratic struggle(19).
Due to the problems of
leaderships and unity of organizations, the Party faced its interior crisis
during the Second Nationalist Conference. This reflected the start of a
tensioned relation between the Regional and Nationalist trends in the Party(20). On the political level, Al Ba'ath, effectively, supported the
After Iraqi Ba'ath and its
Allies dropped the system of Abed Al Kareem Kasem on
Ba'ath authority tried to
advance to the front. Therefore, as a response to the collapse of the
convention on April 17th, Ba'ath authority drifted to the leftist ideology and
replaced the triple
The right wing's response
to the results of the Sixth Conference did not delay. Thus, on
After expelling the Left,
the alliance of Nationalist leadership and military organization dominated the
authority and Party. So, Ba'ath entered its second stage, which witnessed an
ideological and political conflict between both Allies. This conflict continued
until the Movement of
The heavy Debacle of June
upon the Arabic nation, the crisis of Black September in
In spite of Assad's attempts for medial organizing between the Liberal-Plurality pattern and the Partial Mono pattern, actually, his government was of a "Personal type" because he preserved the concentration of great power in the center. At the end, Assad was the owner of the decision(28).
Through the succeeding
events, such as, Tashreen War, Lebanese Civil War, the conflict with Muslims
Brotherhood, the First and the Second War of the Gulf, Assad was able to
consolidate his system and invest the strategic tendency for Grand Syria, thus,
On the Party level, the policy of increasing Ba'athi members and the setting up of a dogmatic generation enlarged the number of the Party's members, so, by the year 2001, it reached 1.250.000 million members. In spite of its legitimate relation as a leader of the government and society, Al Ba'ath could not absorb the political field of the society, on the contrary, the conflicts of this field were reflected inside the Party. This was clarified in various forms like, directionality, regionalism, sectarianism, powers' centers, leaderships (Captains' organizations, Riff'at Assad's problem).
The interior life circle of the Party was not renewed; the Regional Conferences stopped for 15 years, since 1985. Of course, this position stabilized the continuity of the Regional leadership for the same period and Al Zu'obi government for 13 years. In fact, Al Ba'ath was transformed into a Party of marginal authority instead of a society's Party(29). Accordingly, an aggravated economical stagnancy and general corruption prevailed, which one of its most important headlines was Al Zu'obi suicide. Upon the enlarged intelligence agencies' authority of a symbolic leader, who was a model of absolute titles, the society became more marginal and turning away from history.
beginning of the 21st Century, after the death of
B) The Socialist Unionist Movement:
This movement began as a
trend inside the second line of Ba'athi leaderships. The members gathered due
to their resentment of Ba'ath's secessionist attitudes. After Secession, these
feelings were clarified by forming the socialist unionist vanguard. Then, at an
establishing conference in the beginning of 1962, it was named as the Movement
of the Arab Socialists. 50 members attended the conference; most of them were
Due to the members'
previous organizational experience, the movement grew quickly. It called for an
After the 8th of March in 1963, the Arab Socialist Movement participated in the ministry and the Syrian delegation for the 17th of April's discussions; besides, it was a principle power in all the Nasseri powers' moves and pressures. Its relationship with Ba'ath remained on and off, between the dialogue of returning back to Ba'ath and accusing Ba'ath of conspiracy and turning against it. In 1964, the movement participated in establishing the Syrian Socialist Union, then, withdrew and held its Third Conference in 1965. The Conference adopted a convention and an internal system presented by Fayez Ismaeel, the new secretary-general. The withdrawal from the Syrian Socialist Union was the reason for its first loss of an important part of its members and popularity. More losses followed because of its co-operation with the authority of the 23rd of February, and later on, with the Correction Movement. However, the movement justified its cooperation for the sake of positive struggle. Thus, the movement had many splitting cases, which were, finally, presented by its participation in the front of the regime and its authority. One split was formed in 1975, called the Democratic Socialist Union Party, and led by Ahmad Al Asa'ad, that participated in the regime as well. Since its return to co-operate with Ba'ath, no essential ideological or political differences could be noticed in between, neither with the dissident Nasseri Movements nor with the paralleled movements, or those participants in the Front of the regime.
C) Arab Revolutionary Labors Party
The Party was formed as a result of Ba'ath Eighth Left Nationalist conference in 1965, which defined its choices and confirmed its classes' types, Radicalism and Unionism. Due to analyzing the roots of the Arabic Revolution's crisis, the Party found that the deficiency of small Bourgeois leadership was the reason.(32)
Since the announcement of
its establishment with its special vision of Lenin-Marxism, which adopted the
studies of Yaseen Al Hafez and Ilias Morkus, the Party faced the governing
After the Debacle of June
1967, which was a complete test of the nation's structure(33), Arabic
Revolutionary Labors Party stood against the Left tendency and its derivatives
in their Public and Fedayee Liberation War, which, practically, was to liberate
the organized army and evacuate the rest of nation's energies. Especially, when
When the Correction Movement occurred, the Labors Party had a positive attitude toward it. The Party welcomed the suggestions of the temporary Regional leadership about the establishment of a National Progressive Front and participated in its preparatory discussions. But, soon withdrew after noticing the insistence of attaching it into Ba'ath, which caused the split of its participating powers and shattering, later on(35).
Under the pressure of the Debacle (June 1967) and the collapse of Nasseri, the Third National Council of the Party, held in summer 1973, formed a new turn by approaching the retardation matters and ideology. Also, by paying attention to the historical moves of the democratic revolution, plus, developing the partial consciousness and study.
When Tashreen War surprised
all, regardless of its limitations, the Party welcomed its results. Besides,
recognizing the small events of Arab citizens' conduct during the war, the
Party found the first signs of a new civil society and demanded the start from it(36). The fourth
report of the Syrian Regional Council in 1976, concentrated on considering
modernization, rationalization and the formation of Arabic intelligence'
consciousness a compulsory entrance for adjusting the scale of power to Arabs'
benefit. In addition, the Party asked for deepening the political criticism
into the structure of the society. These revisions were completed by the
suggestions of the fourth conference of Nationalist Council about a conscious
criticism of the Debacle, which line would be clarified, later, through the
Party's activity in
In 1978, one of the most
prominent leaders, Yaseen Al Hafez, died. Thus, in spite of the continuous
printing of the Party's newspaper for sometime, its nationalist institutes
stopped to hold conferences until 1993. At the Syrian crisis of 1979, the Party
suggested Democracy and Secularism which would enable
When the Party held the first Nationalist Conference in April 1993, it started to expand the dialogues and enlightenment about the new international diversions after the collapse of the Socialist countries. In the second conference of August 1994, the Party adopted "the Marxism guidance being a universal, modern, political and intelligent system, but with an open mind and a criticizing spirit"(38).
Now, at the elevations of the 21st Century, the Party forms a small Marxist group, which has more modern intelligence than a political Party's popularity; this might be its equation!
Studying the Ba'athi
splits, we can refer to projects of Parties' establishment that did not last
long, such as, Al Ba'ath Democratic Socialist Arabic Party, which related to the
heritage of the 23rd February's movement, Al Ba'ath Socialist Arab Party
(Nationalist leadership), which related to Ba'ath Nationalist Party of Iraq.
The relations with
D) The Movement of the Arab Nationalists:
This movement grew in
The voluntarily commitment
to the Nasseri leadership beside considering the United Arab Republic as the
nucleus of a comprehensive Arab Union, strong and able to destroy Israel,
placed this movement together with the movement of Nasseri masses. Therefore,
the movement spread, widely and strongly, in all the Arab countries. The
conflict of the nationalist movement against Secession was the essence of
transforming it from a limited brotherhood assembling into an organization of
masses; so, the number of its members reached, in
The tensioned relation with
Ba'ath Party led to the negative political competition. This was reflected in
their fragile alliance after the 8th of March 1963, till the alliance turned
into a bloody conflict because of Nasseri Officers' dismissal and the 18th of
July movement. Thus, responding to Nasseri leadership, which called for the
establishment of one Arabic movement, the movement declared the dissolution of
all its organizations in
Affected by the debacle of June 1967 and its consequences, plus, the Nasseri popularity and its diversions, the movement turned to be a radical organization for middle-classes.
Here, due to the Syrian attitude toward the opposing front, the split of the movement started. Two leaders of the movement, Hani Al Hindi and Jihad Dahi, signed the agreement with the opposing front. Therefore, the leftist group of the movement considered this participation a "wrong small Bourgeois step and called for withdrawal from the front to establish instead a class alliance to save the country"(41).
While the movement was exposed to pursuing and shattering attacks as the other Syrian oppositions, the Left of the Nationalist Arab movements declared its complete liquidation. That occurred at the meeting of the executive committee that held by the leftist branches in January 1969. Thus, the movement faded and all its wings transferred into the expansions of the Fedayee Movement(42).
E) Socialist Arab
The co-operation between
The first trend, headed by
Dr. Jamal Atasi, secretary-general, became a Party since the conference of
1968. Through his organizational tendencies, revisions and analysis, Atasi
expressed his affectedness by Marxism. Besides, Atasi distinguished between his
commitment to nationalist Nasseri prospects and his criticism of Nasseri
system. In 1968, the Party participated in the opposing front. Then, due to the
However, the Party of Arab
Socialist Union was effected by the events in
Then came the establishment of Nasseri Masses' Organization and the Arab Vanguard Supporters' Movement, which both retreated after the fast dynamic flourish among the educated and young Nasseri masses during the seventies and eighties. Later, some of both cadres returned back to work with the Union Party, which, since the sixth conference it transformed into a Party that adopts correction instead of clashing. This position continued until the end of seventies. When the national crisis broke out, accompanied by violent events, the Party adopted the wide concept of democracy instead of the narrow public democracy(46), and attempted to form the "Democratic National Assembling" in 1980. Atasi became the secretary-general of the Assembling and had an effective role to shape the Party in a manner of frontier work instead of the one Arab movement, which was dear to the hearts of Nasseris. The condition of the crisis and the intensifying congestion did not allow the democratic national programs any effective role. Although the program was adopted by all the Assembling at that time, the whole Party, including the Communist Party - political office, was exposed to the worst attacks.
Therefore, the Party's
efforts were stressed toward developing its democratic consciousness and
strengthening its organizing system to preserve its power, which declined and
shrank over the time. Consequently, the Party turned to be a 'waiting Party'
depending on its Nasseri memory and the prominent role of its leader Jamal
Atasi. In the last conference at the beginning of year 2000, the Party decided
to become overt and added to its name the word "Democracy", to be
distinguished and to express the Party's essential tendency. In March 2000,
Atasi died, thus, the conference, which was insisting to re-elect him again,
transformed the commemoration of his death into a national rise of feelings'
occasion. This national chance assisted the Party's open policy and the overt
democratic dialogue, which the Party still insisted to follow, especially after
the changes that happened in
- Second - The Communist Directions
A) The Syrian Communist Party:
At the Parliament of 1954,
Khaled Bakdash became the Party's elected representative after being its
secretary-general since 1937. Due to Bakdash's control of the political line
and the halt of the Party's interior circle since the second conference in
1949, the Party had to face the essential national matters. Actually, the most
dangerous matter was its approval for the division of
After 1963, the Syrian communist Party supported the decision of Nationalization, which it had rejected during the era of Abed Al Nasser. Then, the Party suffered from the independence of the Lebanese communist Party away. The Syrian Communist Party waited years of tension with Ba'ath until the authority of the 23rd of February came and allowed it a symbolic cooperation in the ministry. The interior life of the Party did not start its circle until 1969 in the third conference, where Bakdash faced a criticizing radical trend. Bakdash insisted on the correctness of the Party's attitudes and refused criticism, except what concerned the organizational matters(48).
The opposition, led by Riad Al Turk, member of the political office, imposed the project of a political program in June 1970. The project included a criticism for the Party's history and a future vision of an Arab Communist Party with views toward the nationalist and Palestinian matters and Fedayee activity. The project tended for an independent path from the Soviets and applied democracy to the interior scheme of the Party. This project was the start of the conflict inside the Party, which aggravated through the quarrel about cooperating with the Correction Movement, plus, Bakdash's antagonizing the authority and the Soviets against the trend of the project. Finally, the conflict exploded by the splitting Mass' Statement in April 1973. In spite of all concordance efforts, the agitated conflict led to the formation of two Parties:
1) Syrian Communist Party:
its secretary-general Khaled Bakdash had preserved his cooperation with the Correction Movement. Up till now, the Party is still represented in the Ministry and the Front beside other governmental organizations. On the other hand, Its organizational structure became more weak and isolated, especially, after centralizing among minorities and familial sphere. The Party suffered various splits, one of the splits was the Mass, which worked for a while under the name of Communist Party - base organizations, led by Murad Joseph. The most important split occurred in 1986, which transformed into a third communist Party led by Yusef Faisal that participated as the principal Party in all the organizations of the Syrian authority. Having open political and ideological justifications, this third split was distinguished better than Bakdash's classy language and stubborn ideology. Thus, Faisal was able to unite some splitting masses in the sixth conference of 1987 and give some hopes for developing an open communist line, which was not confirmed on the practical level.
2) Syrian Communist Party (the political office):
The trend, which formed
most of the Party's basis and its political office, held a fourth conference in
1973 and elected Riad Al Turk as a secretary-general. When the group of Abed Al
Samad and Ne'mah Bakri withdrew, the Party lost its representatives in the
Ministry and the Front, but kept a minimum participation in the branches of the
Front. This Party avoided the tensioned relation with Ba'ath until 1976. Then,
its objection for the Syrian military entrance to
B) The League of the Communist Action
This league emerged from
the conference of 1976, which accredited the unification of groups of new
Marxist circles that appeared in both universities of
Fateh Jamoos, Haytham Manna (till 1978) and Aslan Abed Al Kareem, active dynamic members, had a great role in this diversion and established the league's theoretical guidance that was called the "strategic line". The strategic line adopted the Arabic nationalist concepts and declared the emblem of toppling the system(50). Consequently, the league was exposed to successive pursuing attacks during 1977-1978. Besides, its altered attitude toward authority after the conflict with Muslim Brotherhood, the opposition and both communist Parties, affected the limited structure of the league and broke it down(51). This was associated with the league's change of speech to become of more Soviet tendency, especially, after converting into a Communist labor Party in the conference of 1981. Later on, it achieved some ascending, again, by becoming active with Arafat's oppositions. During that period, due to the absence of the persuaded leftist opposition, the authority's attitude toward the league became tolerant. But, the authority attacked it again after the league participated in the Kurds strike in 1986, then severely, shattered it later. Since that date the league had no more noticed role, still, some available signs and analysis try to renew this role, lately(52).
During the seventies, within the communist direction, other circles and organizations grew and had some glow, such as, Syrian Communist Union, Arabic Communist Organization and others. In spite of the differences between these movements, they were all extinguished or eliminated and never continued?
- Third - Islamic Directions:
A) Muslim Brotherhood:
At the beginning of Independence, the Syrian Brotherhoods were distinguished from the Egyptian ones because they did not ask for practicing Sharia, but demanded a proper rule to eliminate the disadvantages of Imperialism(53).
Thus, the movement of
Muslim Brotherhood participated in the competition for election and won four
Deputies in 1949 through establishing the Socialist Islamic Front. By the
virtue of Mustafa Al Seba'i, who was titled "The Red sheik", the
movement of Muslim Brotherhood inclined into a Social Islamic Democratic Party
that co-operated with national powers against the project of Grand Syria and
Two trends disputed during the history of Muslim Brotherhood's. The first trend was peaceful and reforming, led by persons like, Mustafa Al Seba'i followed by Isam Attar, the second was violent and defiant, led by Marwan Hadeed and Adnan Uklah.
In spite of Muslim Brotherhood's classical ideology to face the project of modern government, its civil structures included a wide section of educated groups. This expressed, of course, another contradiction in the Arabic modernization and its problems.
B) The Party of Islamic liberation:
At the beginning of
fifties, Taki Al Deen Nabhani and his companions established the Party of
Islamic Liberation in
Thus, the Party's growth in
Although the Party was not
licensed, it took advantage of the democratic atmospheres during the fifties.
The age of
- Fourth - Local and Regional Directions:
A) The Syrian Nationalist Party:
After the independence of
After the change of
B) Arab Socialists:
The movement started from the heritage of the Socialist Arab Party, which had incorporated with Al Ba'ath at the beginning of the fifties, then separated because of its support to Secession and the severe objection to Abed Al Nasser.
Its historical leader Akram Hawrani led the movement, again. After his quarrels with the successive Ba'athi authorities, this movement, which depended on a strong Hamawi base and selective Socialist thoughts, shattered. Thus, three splitting groups were composed under the same name. The previous Major General Abed Al Ghani Ayash, who became from the opposition and participated in the Democratic National Assembly, led the first group. Abed Al Ghani Kanoot, who supported the Correction Movement and participated in the Progressive Front, led the second group. The third group was led by Abed Al Aziz Othman and succeeded after his death by his son Ghasan.
C) Kurds' Movements and Parties:
There are more than twenty
Parties and active movements among Syrian Kurds, especially, in Jazeera region.
All these Parties are not licensed. Some of the Parties are an expansion of
Kurds Parties from outside
1) Mohammed Najati Tayarah, "Associations period, Parties and Arabic Nationalist Movements", 1st part, assortment of Faisal Daraj and Mohammed Jamal Parout, The Arabic Center for Strategic Studies, Damascus 2000, p. 16.
2) Khairiah Kassem,
"The Arabic Authority in
3) Abu Ali Yaseen, "The League of Nationalist Labor, Parties and Nationalist Arabic Movements", p. 52.
Murkos, "The History of Communist Parties in the Arab World", 1st
edition, Dar Al Talee'ah,
5) Khaled Bakdash, an
introduction for "The Road for
6) Mohammed Harb Ferzat,
"The Parties' Life in
7) Abdullah Hanna,
"The Labors Movement in
8) Abu Ali Yaseen, previous source, p. 54.
9) Previous source, p. 57.
10) Abdullah Hanna, previous source, p. 212.
11) Mohammed Harb Ferzat, previous source, p. 138.
12) Abu Ali Yaseen, previous source, p. 62.
Thokan Karkute, "The Development of the National Movement in
14) Mohammed Harb Ferzat, previous source, p. 146.
15) The previous source, p. 146.
16) Mohammed Jamal Barout, "The Group of Muslim Brotherhood after the Ordeal. Syria, Parties, Groups and Islamic Movements", 2nd edition, part 1, edited by Faisal Daraj and Jamal Barout, Arabic Center for Strategic Studies, Damascus 2000, p. 255.
17) Abu Ali Yaseen, "Al Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party, Parties and Arab Nationalist Movements", previous source, p. 222.
18) Mohammed jamal Barout, "Al Ba'ath Nationalist Party", previous source, p. 361.
19) Patrick Seal,
"Assad, The Conflict over
Mustafa Dandashli, "A Contribution for Criticizing the Political Movements
in the Arab World", 1st edition, 1st part, Dar Al Talee'ah,
21) Dandashli, Previous
source, p. 315. Also, Hani Al Fakiki "The Dens of the
Debacle, My Experience in the Iraqi Ba'ath Party", 1st edition, Riad Al
22) Dandashli, previous source, p. 330.
23) Tayarah, previous source, p. 510.
24) Yaseen Al Hafez wrote
the first draft of the Report, Fawaz Trabulsi mentioned that a committee headed
by Michel Aflak joined Jubran Majdalani and Yaseen Hafez to change the
Introduction, but Aflak avoided the committee's meetings and wrote the
replacing Introduction alone. Look Trabulsi "The Picture of the Boy in
Red", Dar Al Raies,
25) Tayarah, "From the Leftist Ba'ath to the Arabic Revolutionary Labors Party, the Parties and the Arab Nationalist Movements", Previous source, p. 518.
26) Patrick Seal, previous source, p. 287.
27) Barout, previous source, p. 430.
28) Patrick Seal, previous source, p. 287.
29) Abed Al Razak Eid, "Al Ba'ath, A Marginal Authority's Party, Can Ba'ath Transform into a Party of Society?" Al Nahar, 28.09.2000.
30) Shams Aldeen Kaylani, "The Socialist Unionists, from the Movement into the Party, The Parties and the Arab Nationalist Movements", previous source, p. 213.
31) Previous source, p. 215.
32) Look: "A Group Of Thinkers, The Reasons of the Arabic Revolution's
Crisis", Arabic Studies, 2nd year, No. 12,
33) Yaseen Al Hafez,
"The Debacle and the ideological Debacle", 1st edition, Dar Al
34) Tayarah, previous source, p. 541.
35) Mohammed Jamal Barout, "The Political Syrian Age", Al Haiat 31.08.1988.
36) "The Arabic Revolution", the central Newspaper of the Arab Revolutionary Labors Party, Middle of December 1994.
37) The previous source, beginning of October 1979.
38) The Schedule Document, the second conference of Arab Revolutionary Labors, August 1994.
39) Barout, "The Movement of the Arab Nationalists, the Parties and the Arab Nationalist Movements", part 2, previous source, p. 9.
40) Previous source, p. 13 and p. 21.
41) Previous Source, p. 48
42) Previous source, p. 58.
43) Shams Aldeen Kaylani,
"The Socialist Union as a Sample for
44) Previous source, p. 146.
45) Previous source, p. 151.
46) Previous source, p. 152.
47) Murkos, previous source, p. 123.
48) Barout, "The Syrian Communist Movement and the Questions about the Fate", Al Haiat 05.11.1988.
49) Previous source.
50) Barout, "The League of Communist Action and its Winding Path, From Shining into Dissolution", Al Haiat 19.11.1998.
51) Previous source.
52) Fateh Jamoos, "Which Political Movement? Which Party We Want? How do We Start?" no publishing house, or printing place, 06.01.2001.
53) Barout, "The Group of Muslim Brotherhood after the Debacle", previous source, p. 257.
54) Previous source, p. 91.
55) Husam Jazmati, "The Liberation Party, the Parties, Groups and Islamic Movements", previous source, p. 90.
56) Previous source, p. 91.
57) Mohammed Harb Ferzat, previous source, p. 229.
58) Previous source, p. 263.
The Social Diversions
And the Role of Civil Organizations
Kareem Abu Halawa(*)
Many conferences, lectures and researches are held about the present and future of the Arabic society. This refers to the transfer of social mind from describing and personifying the reality into trying to know it and suggesting solutions and entrances, which lead for the scientific and rational deal with the reality's phenomena.
The mind's hesitation about the phenomenon of civil organizations means an inclusive reference that the role and status of civil organizations did not reach yet to the aimed level that the movements of development and civilization look for in our societies.
The attention toward civil organizations is included within an Arabic intellectual speech, which is growing continuously. In this speech, the concepts of civil society, plurality, dialogue and social practices are all combined together to form new characteristics. These characteristics confirm the increasing tendency of the present Arabic speech to adopt the democratic principles and to upgrade the value of participation in the public affairs, besides, not to be limited to the elite.
The diversion reference of knowledge is not less important than the social one. During a long period, researches and social studies were concentrated upon the government, its institutions and their role in the society. Now, a new emerging direction called for paying attention to the social activists, whether individuals or civil associations or groups of benefits, and asked about their role in the development and their capacities to assist the social project.
This study aims at defining the structure of the Arabic civil organizations and their role in the society. This will be studied through a scheduled choice that asks about the features of this vital social sector and its legal status. Besides, discussing the suitable methods to activate the work of these organizations and to introduce their practiced activities for the projects of development.
The analysis would not be completed without a careful attention to the difficulties and obstacles that encounter the work of the civil organizations and restrict their capacities and embed their active assistance to face the problems of development. Thus, the organizations should be encouraged to associate and enlarge their role of social participation as an indispensable necessity for the success and continuity of development.
What are the civil organizations? Where are their locations in the social structure, whether in their relations to the government and its institutions or to the civil society? What roles and functions can they do? Till what extent they are able to act these roles?
Since more than a decade, the attention to organizations is, gradually, widening on two levels. First, on the level of studying the local social structures and organizing them, after most sociological studies were directed toward the concentrated sample of the government's role. Second, on the level of the enlarged role of these civil organizations, which the international associations and organizations started to care for. This attention was activated in order to enable the Third sector or the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist in the public programs as a part of reducing the governmental bureaucracy' strategy and to rise the role of the private sector. The activation and assistance are considered references of the increase of participation and transparency in the operation of development.
With the appearance of the dependency school, the developing mind witnessed fundamental diversions that could be concentrated as follows:
1) There was a diversion from the written theories of development into the theory of dependency, which concentrated on interpreting the backwardness and analyzing the non-equivalent international economical relations.
2) The diversion from the concept of national income as a standard of development into the problems of unemployment, the bad distribution of income and the fulfillment of the essential needs.
3) The transfer from confirming the defined economical problems into the attention toward the international problems and restrictions, such as, energy, consuming recourses, hunger, pollution and population.
4) The transfer from treating the developing countries as a group of identical benefits into treating them as a group of dissimilar conditions and benefits. Besides, the concept of the international benefit's accordance disappeared and was substituted by the concept of benefits' conflict, especially, between the advanced countries and the developing ones.
All the theoretical efforts combined to construct what was called the 'independent development' with concentration on the problems and crises that such development had to face it, as follows:
- The identity crisis: it arouses the problem of limited and narrowed allegiances instead of national loyalty. Moreover, it enlarges at the beginning of the contradictions between the classical education and the modern one.
- The legitimacy crisis: it refers to the matter of accordance upon the legitimacy of ruling. This means, the transfer from the inherited traditional foundations of legitimacy into other new modern ones.
- The crisis of penetrations: it is about the government and its development policies' ability to reach all the sides of the society, which means the capacity to absorb the whole social structure.
- The crisis of distribution: it relates to the resulting problems of the national income's distribution; also, the justness or unfairness of income's distribution.
- The crisis of participation: it means the extent of ability to let the biggest possible number of individuals and social groups assist in the political operation and administrate the country affairs. In other words, this attitude relates to democracy.
- The crisis of integration: it means to overcome the regional, ethnic and religious differences to reach into higher social resources, which all accord about the loyalty to the country.
The dependency school was increasingly criticized and various difficulties faced the policies that related to untying the obligations and breaking the dependency. Also, a whole political and economical diversion followed the end of the cold war and the dissociation of the Socialist system. Besides, these diversions accompanied the new globalization and its scientific, political and economical manifestations. Due to all the mentioned above, there had to be a criticizing revision for the concept of development. Therefore, the concept of the sustainable human development, which was concentrated in the reports of the human development at the beginning of the 90ies, formed a compounded concept that regarded the previous experiences of developments, theoretically and practically.
This does not mean that the
concept of the sustainable human development is final, complete and includes
solutions for the complicated problems of development. Today, the societies
witness several forms of "bad development", like unmerciful
development, futureless development, deaf development, rootless development and
the development without opportunities for work. The crisis of Southeast Asian
countries, in the middle of 1997, lost 30 to 50% of their currencies' value.
The crisis expanded to include
The human development report of the year 1996 studies the nature and degree of relation between the economical growth and human development. In an unanticipated initiative, the concept of human development was exactly defined as "enlarging the people's choices by providing job opportunities, income, health, education and political rights that concentrate through the concept of participation". That was through the suggestion of the human development index. This indicates connecting the economical development to an essential aim, which is improving the quality of people's life and guaranteeing a rightful distribution of income, plus, preserving the environment. The report affirms the controversial link between the economical growth and the human development, so that the growth becomes a device and the development becomes an aim. Accordingly, the report confirms the importance of the governments, the institutions of the private sector and the civil organizations' participation in the matters of directing the growth and development's operations.
The changes in the civil work sector in many Arab countries refer to a couple of economical and social changes and diversions, with a less degree of political changes. Part of these changes clarified their influence by the international directions, which raised the value of the Third sector. In fact, the NGOs have an important role in dealing with the problems of population, environment and the pauperized groups of people, in addition to the matters of human rights, women and others. What are the factors and reasons, which assisted the change of the civil sector's status, in the Arab countries? What is the new role size of this sector?
The careful analyzes of implicit economical and social factors for this diversion clarifies that there are two groups of factors. The first is related to the policies of development, which in spite of failure and success, plus, gaps and deficiencies, most Arab countries followed. The second is related to the changes of the social structures and population construction, which is connected to the new demands and needs that, resulted from the recent developments.
Most Arab countries followed monetary and financial policies to face the inflation and the budgets' deficiencies through liberating the market, tending toward privatization and the constructive economical reformations. These policies led to the decrease of the public spending on general services in the sectors of heath, education and social care. This decrease urged the civil sectors to cover and fulfill a side of the populations' demands. In fact, the civil sector has a natural and necessary role because it complements the role of the government. Also, the role of the private sector is enlarging.
The social and economical
policies, which caused the retreat of the governments' role to spend on general
services and social care, paralleled the continuous population's increase in
the Arabic countries. In 1990, the population of the Arab countries was 270
Million inhabitants. The average of population's growth reached (2,6), which is one of the highest averages in the world. It
means that there are new population's needs and demands, which the governments
are unable to fulfil, especially, when these needs relate to youthful
societies, where the average of ages less than 15 years old, represent 40% of
the total population. In addition, some Arab countries witnessed exceptional
conditions, like wars, beside environmental and natural catastrophes, as in
Due to the second crisis of the Gulf and the increase of the debts and loans in most Arabic countries, in general, it is noticeable that, the development in these countries slowed down during the period from 1991 to 1997(1).
The Arab countries depended on the central planned economical policy. Other countries had political policies that depended on the economy of the market and the economical plurality. The comparison between both policies shows that, in spite of supplying the lower economical structure, like industrial and agricultural projects, roads and services, the central policy did not succeed to invest the economical structure. Therefore, it reached the crisis of a closed prospect and actual slow growth because of bureaucracy, routine, and corruption, besides, restricting the initiatives and restraining the investments. This requires the economical reformations, reconstructing the societies, privatization and activating the private initiatives(2).
As for the second group, most of its countries suffered the aggravated problem of bad distribution of wealth and incomes because of the privatization's procedures, financial reformations, the pressures of both International Bank and Monetary Fund. This led into an aggravated phenomenon of unemployment and the increase of poverty percentage. Therefore, this requires a revision of the negative social effects of the actual developing policies and finding the difficult balance between the policies of the economical liberation and the society development needs beside the social justice. Of course, the differences between the Arab countries in both groups should be noticed.
It is clear that paying attention to the civil organizations, being one of the civil society's components in the developing countries, is not separated from two central matters, which these societies face, the Development matter and Democracy.
The failure and stumble of the South World societies' development experiences, or the first generation of development, are not hidden anymore. They looked for the accumulation of capital without the accumulation of the human experiences and releasing their capacities. Also, they neglected two essential spans of development, which are the continuity and regarding humans as the purpose of this development and its device at the same time. The second feature of the developing countries experiences' failure is presented in their deficiencies or the undesired rise of the nation participation. Thus, most participation remained superficial and ineffective.
The Features of the Civil Sector in the Arabic World:
This study tries to define the essential features of the Arabic civil organizations that started in the 19th Century. In fact, the civil work started very early in our social history, which was practiced through (Waqf) Endowment, Zakat and other forms of human donations that constituted mutual values among the civilizations, cultures and religions in many different parts of the world.
The forms of Arabic civil organizations vary and differ according to number, date of activity and types. The available information refers to the existence of 70.000 thousand Arabic civil organizations. Thus, there are a huge number of nation initiatives that could be classified according to their activities into four types:
- First: Charitable
associations include the total of civil activities that work in the field of
traditional charity, which depend on the form of donor and donated. While the
percentage of the charitable organizations is 34% of the total civil
- Second: The organizations of services and social care are civil organizations that activate in many social fields and offer health services, economical and social services for children, women, aged people, family and others.
- Third: Development organizations are a new type of civil work organizations, which gradually started to develop in the Arabic societies. The purpose of this type of organizations is to achieve development within a limited local society.
- Fourth: Defensive
organizations are organizations of opinion and effect, advocacy, such as, human
rights, women's rights and disabled rights. Recently appeared
- Fifth: Various cultural organizations, like literary associations, unions of writers and artists, associations of poetry, novel and story and others, in addition to rehabilitation organizations, training, obliterating illiteracy and others.
Although the previous civil organizations differ and vary in types and activities, they share three mutual elements. First, they do not aim at gaining money; second, they are NGOs; third, they offer civil initiatives and nation volunteering to fulfill the needs or the social demands and participate in the operation of development.
Specifying my concepts and an attempt to define them:
The concept of NGOs refers to a couple of voluntarily social initiatives that activate in different fields, like social services, charitable donations, health, education and cultural services. Besides the attention to the affairs of environment and development, professional training, women rehabilitation, local social development, plus, defending human rights, children rights and others.
The civil organizations are localized between the government and its institutions, on one side, and the private sector, which aims at gaining, on the other side. The civil work organizations and the civil society institutions participate in many mutual roles and functions. The definition of "civil society" means "the group of associations and social organizations that work, relatively, independent from the government to achieve different political, economical and social purposes. They include political Parties, associations, unions, cultural clubs, chambers of commerce and industry, craftsmanship and professional organizations". The essential and sufficient condition to establish these connections between the individuals leans on the concept of "citizenship", which is a substitute for the traditional belongingness before establishing cities.
On the conceptual level, there is a difference between the domestic society and the civil society in the Arabic society case, which can not be recognized, in the English term, because it unifies both. Actually, the domestic society is established according to the connections and primordial organizations that the individual belongs to at the time of birth. Thus, there are anticipated considerations without giving this early belonging any margin of freedom to chose. On the other hand, Sa'ad Al Deen Ibraheem defines the civil society as 'the total voluntarily social organizations, non-inherited and non-governmental, which care for the individual and enlarge his capacities for effective participation in the public life'(3). This was confirmed by the German sociologist Tunnis who according to Hegel distinguished between, first, the term of 'Burgarlleische Gesslschaft', civil society, which referred to the forms of modern voluntarily social joint that built upon free belonging and benefit. The second term was 'Burgarleische Gemainschaft', domestic society, which depended on the forms of inherited social joints(4). In the Arabic culture, we use similar and many terms to refer to the civil organizations. Thus, when we say 'Third sector', we mean to distinguish it from the governmental sector and from the private sector that aims at making profit. When we say 'non-governmental organization', we mean the domestic organization that forms with the private organizations, which aim at winnings, what is called the 'civil society', in general.
Probably, the decisive distinction between the domestic organizations and the rest of civil society organizations is the following five features:
1 - Volunteering.
3 - No attempt of making profit.
4 - No attempt of members' personal service.
5 - Participation in the general affairs.
These organizations are established according to mutual general attention or aim at working in a specified field. They want to achieve collective benefits or assist the individuals, pauper and needy families. Furthermore, they aim at defending matters, like human rights, women, childhood and others.
In comparison, the organizations of the civil society are qualified and successful more than the governmental organizations for different reasons like:
1st) Unlike the governmental organization, the civil organization has a capacity to attract volunteers, gifts and donations; thus, it reduces the costs of work.
2nd) The organizations of the civil society can obtain better information about the needs of the local societies and better methods to fulfill them. In addition, these organizations can define the social groups that deserve to be helped. On the contrary, unlike the civil organizations, the huge faraway bureaucratic institutions from the actual reality prevent them from figuring out the recent social changes.
The success of the three sectors, the governmental, civil and private, is related to their capacities of accordance, complementary and dialogue in between to surpass any difficulty that faces the procession of the society development. In case of paradoxes or conflicts, which are natural, the ways of directing the conflict and solving it legally are the guaranteed actual ways for not developing into a negative or destroying conflict, or to hide it until a possible chance appears. In other words, the nature of conflict between the three sectors must be defined and treated, fundamentally, to reach its deep reasons instead of reconciling it temporarily and incidentally. This will guarantee the continuity of development and avoid the fruitless historical conflicts, such as, tribal, sectarian and ethnic conflicts.
The Civil Associations in
organizations have a long history in
The last stage of the civil associations' development was the supervising stage. Thus, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor supervised the different activities and works of the organizations, gave them directions and supported them financially. In 1974, the activities of the civil organizations were restricted within a general frame that included 13 items.
The organizations in
1) 240 charitable associations that include beneficiary help and beneficiary education associations.
2) 127 cultural associations that include artistic, literary and scientific associations.
3) 203 leagues, clubs and social unions. They include orphanage, nurseries for employed mothers, aged people, disabled, retarded, blind, deaf and dumb, rural clubs and child care organizations.
4) 26 health associations.
5) 29 co-operative associations, which are supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.
Due to their role of
rehabilitation, training and services for children and women, probably, the
social care associations are the most civil associations that assist the human
development. Although the number of these associations does not exceed 18% of
the total number of the civil associations in
This positive assistance
clarifies one phase of the civil work in
In spite of the important
assistance of the civil associations in
- To modernize the organizing laws of these associations according to the recent social and economical changes. Besides, guaranteeing the wide independence of directing, organizing and sketching their own strategy.
- To provide the associations with human qualifications. Besides, enabling them to achieve their goals, clearly and transparently, especially, their budgets, financing and distributing their services, to personify the associations' effective participation.
- To get rid of obstacles and problems, which face the work of civil associations, mainly:
- One) Some people try to make personal benefits.
- Two) The spread of paralyzed and favoritism phenomena because of depending on personal and relatives' acquaintances, which lead to employ unqualified cadres.
- Three) The secrecy that prevents from discussing any matter within the association.
However, these obstacles contradict the minimum provisions of successful civil organizations or institutions. Usually, the provisions of the associations are built upon clear purposes; rules of work according to studied plans and organizing the participants' activities away from bureaucratic routine and complicated procedures.
Therefore, the civil
organizations might become a real partner in the operation of development and
economical reformation that started in
The Unlicensed Associations and Forums' Phenomenon:
Although, most of the civil
The new phenomenon that
witnesses big cultural and social activities in
Disregarding the results of the intellectual, political and social activities that raised convulsion writings and responses, the careful analyses clarify a group of references, like:
- First, the necessity to widen the margin of movement and democratic expression for the increasing number of people, who perceive their importance of participation in discussing the matters and subjects that relate to the Syrian affair.
- Second, according to the new leadership of President Bashar Assad, the vision of economical reformations and fighting corruption, besides, the improvement of public functions became important matters. Therefore, the people of pro-reformation and renovation started to express their view openly through newspapers, local and Arabic magazines.
The main important demands are related to the renewal of laws, the termination of the Martial laws, the review of the judicial and educational systems, besides, the successive economical decrees that relate to private banks, universities and administration, in order to reform the public sector and encourage the investment. The economical reformation became a mutual denominator between the government and the rest of social powers. Thus, the conflict is not about the economical reformation but about the possibilities of achieving an economical reformation away from political reformation or before it. The references point out that there are preparations and studies for a new group of laws that concern the widening of political participation. Therefore, a new law for the Parties and printings, which will guarantee the right of issuing private newspapers, will achieve better development.
Disregarding pessimism and
optimism, it is clear that today,
Today, it became clear for
all those who are interested in the civil sector in
Assisting the treatment of pauperization, unemployment and illiteracy problems demand, today, upgrading the civil works, to assist effectively in development and participate in treating these problems. This could be achieved through providing new chances for work or to enable the people of low incomes to increase their productivity and other types of help. The most important thing is to transfer from the role of treating the negative results, because of bad income's distribution, to the role of participating in sketching and executing the protective policies, which review the mechanism and methods of distributing incomes inside the society.
To achieve the economical or social or cultural development role, civil associations need to modernize their organizing laws, whether in their connections to the government or to the benefited groups. This demands new systems and laws, according to their new roles that relate to organizing their directory councils, defining their supervising directions and their sources of finance.
Throughout these steps, the
civil organizations in
1) Mahmood Abd Al Fadeel, 'Privatization, the Demands of Development, Distribution and Social Justice in the Arab World', a commentary on the lecture of Yaseen Sa'eed No'man, 4th Annual Conference of Arab Center for Strategic Studies, Damascus 2000, p. 7.
Sukkar, 'The Economical Reformation in
3) Sa'ad Al Deen Ibraheem (supervisor), 'The Role of the Professional Organizations and Intellectual Forums to Consolidate the Culture of the Civil Society', discussion circles, Iben Khaldoon Center for the Studies of Development, Cairo, 1998, p. 16.
4) Bablo, Norberto, 'Gramci
and the Concept of Civil Society, in Joining Civil Society and the State',
Civil Work in
Civil Associations, the Social and Economical Crisis of Development in
Mohammed Hussein Bakher, 'The Measurement of Poverty in ESCWA countries',
Khandeel, 'The Civil Society in the Arab World', a study for the Arabic civil
- Kareem Abu Halawa, 'The Problematic Concept of Civil Society, the Arise - the
Development - the Manifestations', Dar Al Ahali,
Civil Society and its Role in Developing Democracy', a group of writers, the
- 'The Civil Society in the United Arab Emirates', Abd Al Halek Abdullah and others, the Association of Sociologists, Sharja, 1995.
- The report of the Human
development in 1997, the publications of the United Nations,
- RICHARD T. INGRAM: TWN
BASIC RESPONSIBILITIES OF NON PROFIT BOARDS, NCNB GOVERNANCE SERIES -1-
- SELDGMAN, ADAM: THE IDEA
OF CIVIL SOCIETY, FREE PRESS,
The Syrian Movement
of Human Rights
A Historical View:
Since the beginning of the
twentieth century there were different individual attempts from Lebanese and
Syrian writers and intellectuals to define and praise human rights. In 1901 and
1908, they translated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, issued
by the French Revolution. They, also, translated the American Declaration after
the constitution of
After these preliminary
accumulations, the political and cultural speech started to approach the idea
of human rights and freedoms. Many studies criticized the Hameedi despotism,
and despotism in general, such as, "the Disposition of Despotism" by
the lawyer Abd Al Rahman Al Kawakebi, who was born in
During the twenties and
thirties, lawyers, national intellectuals and some communist writers defended
the human rights, as well as, many journalists from Grand Syria and in exile.
At the end of the twenties and the beginning of thirties, two associations of
Doctors and Lawyers were born. The year 1933 witnessed the establishment of
Arab Women's Union in Damascus, then on the 15th of May 1937, the league for
Resisting Fascism, as well as, the publication of "Human Rights: From
Where and to Where?"(1), a book by the Arabic intellectual Ra'eef Khuri (Zaidoon
Publishing-Damascus). With the rise of the active resistance against Fascism
and Nazism, and demanding independence from
The debacle of
The Associations for Defending Human Rights:
- 1 -
In 1962, after the
Since establishing the league for defending human rights, the discussions were about its program and its connection with the human rights according to the International Declaration and the human rights' relation with the rights of nations according to the leftist intellectuals. The importance of this subject retreated after the two issued conventions in 1966, which admitted the self-determination and many collective social rights. All the members of the league accorded that the Zionist existence was aggressive and opposed the grand principles and human laws.
The league paid attention to the legitimacy of declaring the state of emergency, but the general nationalist span and the absence of democracy in most political parties affected the league to accept the actual position. Thus, the league defended the victims of arbitrary detention and the independence of judicial and legal systems in a political environment that disregarded the league. The communist Party was disordered by the crisis of its split into two. The Arab Nationalist Movement was inclining to the Lenin concept of politics and ruling. The Movement of Muslim Brotherhood adopted the way of Saied Kutob, which rejected the principle of plurality. The National Party and People's Party had a finishing stroke. However, after eliminating Nasseri officers in the summer of 1963, Al Ba'ath Party was appointed as the leading Party of the revolution and country.
Through the aggravated absence of freedoms, the increase of repression and the nationalization of civil and political activities by the executive authority, the democratic speech re-existed. The first strokes were directed toward the judicial system, which role became marginal through increasing the exceptional courts and the domination of exceptional and martial laws and decrees over the constitutional laws. Since 1970, the period of General Assad was distinguished by personifying the authority, concentrating all the powers under his control, sketching the governmental organizations according to his image, releasing, freely, the security bodies and private military units to interfere in politics, economy and sociology. In addition to his fierceness against the rights of the civil associations, Assad brought in to the constitution the ideological nature of each social or associational system. The Syrian Constitution approved the right of forming masses organizations in the Article No. 48. This Article included that "the sectors of masses have the right to establish associational, social or professional organizations, co-operative associations for production or services in which the laws define their field, relations and limits of activities". Article No. 49 linked between the activities of these organizations and the purposes and directions of the leading Party as follows: "the organizations of masses have to participate effectively in all the different sectors and councils, which are restricted by laws, to achieve the following:
1 - Building the socialist Arab society and protecting its system.
2 - Planning and leading the socialist economy.
3 - Developing the provisions of work, protection, health, education and all other matters that relate to the individuals' life.
4 - Accomplishing the scientific and technological progress and developing the means of productions.
5 - Implying the public supervision on the institutions of the government".
To give an idea about the
Ba'athi application for these directions, we will present the organizational
law for the profession of engineering as an example. The 1st section, 1st
chapter, 3rd Article includes: "the association of engineers is a social
professional organization, which believes in the aims of the Arab Nation toward
union, freedom and socialism. The organization is committed to work inside the
Due to this social and political pressure, the social reaction was of dual expressions:
- A violent movement led by the combating vanguards of Muslim Brotherhood movement.
- A civil movement led by the professional associations and supported by the national democratic tendencies in the country, which demanded the termination of the state of emergency, the release of dΕtentes, the political plurality, the separation of authorities and the constitutional reformation.
The Syrian league of human
rights decided to engage in the fight for political reformation. In addition to
Lawyers, Engineers and Doctors' associations, the league demanded to organize a
one-day strike on
During that period, many
- 2 -
In December 1989, the
Committees for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights (CDF) were
declared, secretly, in
We should contemplate the conditions of establishing CDF inside the country and its relation to the previous speech. While the speech was trying to give a respectable impression about the constitutional position, it held a political charge, which was not less than the opinions of the secularist opposing parties. Actually, two years after the big launch of detentions in 1987, CDF was born. The detentions were, mainly, intended for the Communist Labor Party, also included a big part of the Communist Party - political office and big number of Ba'athi opposition, plus, a less number of Nasseri oppositions. At the same period, there were about five thousand detained Palestinians and thousands of detained from the movement of Muslim Brotherhood. If we take into consideration all the former detentions we can imagine the strong strokes that hit the Syrian political society. Accordingly, the society was in bad need for civil expressions, which would remind of the individuals' rights and the primacies of progress in any society, like the right of expression, organization and the independent social communication away from the schemes of the authority.
The political activities
and the programs of change were paralyzed by these detentions; thus, the
position demanded preserving what remained. In spite of the storms that shook
the world and changed its political map, the bodies of security were able to
paralyze the Syrian political elite, moreover, concealed its preliminary right
to discuss the surrounding events. In these conditions, which accompanied
Assad's attempt to untie his international political isolation through his
attitude toward the Gulf War, it was important to open the file of political
repression, directly, as a starting point for political reformation. Thus,
since 1990 till 1995, I concentrated my writings and struggles on analyzing the
main characteristics of the political oppression. The political oppression was
clarified in arbitrary detention, torture and compulsory or involuntary
disappearance, as well as, in canceling the legitimate existence of any
independent expression or opposing the authority, regardless of the extent of
its independence and its method of struggle. Also, the political repression was
clarified in studying the social, political and cultural chronicle results of
the state of emergency, besides, paralyzing the Judicial System. This tendency
attracted the most important elite of human rights in
Our tendency succeeded to
open the principal files of political oppression in
There were external factors
too. One of the factors was the crisis with the International Federation of
Human Rights after the conference of
The tendency of those who withdrew from the commissions was to link between the political reformations and the human rights as a penalty paid by the activists of human rights in all the dominating countries. Actually, there could not be equality between the repressor and the repressed or the heralds for liberty and autocrats; besides, there could not be neutrality in the matters of freedoms. The Syrian society has to pave the way of Democracy through education and struggle; therefore, the essential and fundamental dialogue should be with the society.
During that period,
- 3 -
The experience of
There is another important matter, which is related to the activity limits outside the country. Obviously, secret work or the work in exile are coercive methods and not normal. If the defenders of human rights have an aim, it is to cancel these two forms of work, which resemble the patient's breathing from an Oxygen bottle due to the deficiency of his respiratory system, which cannot inhale normally and naturally. In fact, this is an expression of an ill case that the society suffers from, if the society is not its cause.
Fortunately, the space channels and electronic means of communications canceled the distances and limits between people. Thus, the person who lives outside the country is able to obtain information more comprehensive and quicker than those who are inside. The direct contact with society and the attentive cadres for human rights enable the organization abroad to become a device of pressure, a power for suggestion and an initiative and cultural storage for serving the restrained people inside. Therefore, it helps those who are subjugated to repression, hunger and daily running to earn the simplest primacies of living and survival. So, if there is any advantage of the outside experience, it is the capacity to have always, a step into the front in comparison to those who are inside. On the other hand, its existence becomes unjustifiable if its role is diminuend or its initiatives are restricted and turned to be limited and conservative like the actual position inside the country. There has not been any single experience in the world in which the refugees praised the political system that ostracized them and faced them by two choices, either immigration or prison, especially, if the system continues in the same manner that we present.
Since the death of
- For the first time, since the Massacre of Hama, fear and worry become a common denominator between the ruler and the ruled.
- All people are convinced
that the president is incapable and the political legitimacy is absent from the
top of the authority, according to the concepts of Max Weber and Ibn Khaldoun.
Consequently, the institutions, which were fed by Assad the father, snap the
inheritance of his legacy. This reminds us of Shatheli ben Jedeed's example in
- The courage to present the fundamental problems and to be organized in various social mediums beside searching for symbols and names that were not polluted during the era of domination to reestablish the nucleus of civil resistance.
- Reformation and peaceful changes form an essential part of the social speech. This gives us the actuality and power to defend the tendency of the political reformation, the theoretical and legal participation to visualize the substitute for constitution and the necessary institutions for the democratic transfer. Of course that will happen away from a conference of Ba'ath Party, the speech of appointment and others.
All these factors make us
confirm the role of human rights' activists to assist the peaceful withdrawal
from the authority of the ruling military minority into the state of law. Thus,
we need a state of law that respects the legal international commitments of
1) We published important paragraphs of this book in my book "the Childhood of a Thing, the First Labors of Human Rights in the Arab World", Al Jamal publishing, 1999. Other documents from overseas were published in a study 'Freedom in the Overseas Creativity', Dar Al Ahali, 2001.
2) See the lecture of the
engineer Saleem Khair Bek, the Professional Associations in
3) The cadres of the league spent five to six years in prison, some of the associates remained 12 years without any tribunal or any accusation.
4) In spite of my first role of leadership in the CDF from 1990 to 1998, where in 1998 I demanded to freeze my position, I did not, personally, know these details because of the organization's secrecy inside the commissions. Since the first day of establishing a branch abroad, I approved openness and was the first one to declare my membership and opinion. I believe that the personal political experience of the establishers and the absence of the well-known names were the reason for not giving openness the importance that it deserved.
5) I expressed this
tendency in many written interpositions and lectures. One of which is my
interposition in the
6) I presented my interposition in the symposium, which was organized by the commissions, Amnesty international organization and the International Federation for Human Rights in 1993. In this interposition I concentrated on the necessity for the plurality of organizations in the field of human rights. Also, I confirmed that the plurality of political Parties could accomplish one guarantee of dynamism in society. See the third part of the mentioned meeting's publications, in French language.
In fact, since we received the letters from the prisons, I do not have any more illusions about the future and the capacities of the Committee for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights. Still, I pressed all my efforts to preserve their existence. In spite of the occurring raptures that followed the launch of detention, I wanted the organization to hold together and remain comprehensive as much as possible to include the Syrian geographical, social and political map, away from the twisted circles and personal problems. This tendency delayed the formation of some initiatives, because it has a trustful and respectful relationship among the different spheres of human rights, including the approach to the movement of Muslim Brotherhood and the Democratic National Assembly. Frequently, I asked my self and the others this question: Is the Tunisian experience the best in the world? Or, is the monist organization responsible for all the occurring catastrophes, in which the society paid the price first, then the league? Isn't the Plurality of the Moroccan experience a healthy phenomenon?
The Judicial System
Haytham Al Maleh(*)
The Judicial Authority represents the last fortress to protect the nation and guarantee the rights and security of the individuals and groups in their relationships and in facing the political authority. As much as the judicial authority is strong, stable and independent, people's freedoms, properties, souls and honors are more protected and honored.
If we pass in front of the
Justice, in fact, is the basis of the rule and its supporter. Justice is the people's path to happiness and security. In the Holy Koran, justice is demanded. In Surah Al Nahl No. 90 "Allah commands justice, the doing of good", and Surah Al Ma'idah No. 8 "Be just: that is next to piety". In Surah Al Anam No. 152 "Whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned". In Sura Al Shura No. 15 "But say: I believe in the Book which Allah has sent down; and I am commanded to judge justly between you".
Sura Al Hujurat No. 9 "Be fair for Allah loves those who are fair and just". In Sura Al Nisa' No. 58 "And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice".
Mohammed, the profit, urged for justice and warned from tyranny by a severe suffering. He said "One hour of justice is better than worshiping for 60 years".
Ibn Taimyya, known as Sheik al-Islam, said in a remarkable achievement: "People did not contradict the idea that (the consequences of tyranny are bad and the results of justice are honorable). Thus, it has been said that even if the state is atheist but just, God would support it, and even if the state has faith but tyrannical, God would not support it".
Christianity, too, called
for justice. One of Saint Pules' letters, which was directed to
The Old Legislations called for justice. Hammurabi said: "The two Gods, Al and Pal, called me to do what reflects the good for humankind, make the right spread in these countries, destroy the evil and the corrupted persons and prevent the tyrant from hurting the weak". Distributing justice is the particularity of God. Glorious God said in the Koran: "The command rests with none but Allah: He declares the Truth, and He is the best of judges", Surah Al Anam No. 57. Also said, "Allah commands, there is none to put back his command, and he is swift in calling to account" AL Ra'ad No. 41. Also, justice is the particularity of profits. God said: "O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth: so judge thou between men in truth and justice", Surah Sad No. 38, Ayah. No. 26(*).
Judges regained this divine particularity to distribute justice among people. So, judges became the articulating tongues of justice, who utter the right, talk by the sovereignty of law. They judge to have their verdicts executed without leaving the space for anyone to argue after their judgements because they present the truth and prudence. Judges preserve the oppressed, protect the weak and help people to live without tyranny or superiority or arbitrariness.
Can judges achieve all that? If the judiciary system is not an independent authority, and just an organization or one department of the state's institutions, can judges spread tranquility among people and in their souls, properties, freedoms and honor? Or if the judges were as the rest of the governmental employees without an actual immunity that prevents them to be subjugated to any external influence, which impedes them from working according to right and justice, could they be fair? In fact, there should be an immunity that helps judges do their work away from fear of arbitrariness, oppression or whims, in order to achieve justice and apply the sovereignty of law!!
Actually, if the judicial system is not admitted as an independent authority, which is equal to other authorities of the state, then, it will not be able to achieve justice. Also, if there is no admission for the judge's immunity that enables him to remain solid in front of all temptations, then he may be driven through. Even if he might arouse the anger of the ruling authority, as long as his judgment accords with his conscience, the judge must take his decision, independently.
The judge owns the most precious things of humankind, which are his freedom, life, property and honor, thus, his work is different from any other employee. Consequently, two issues should be admitted, first, the independence of the judiciary authority, secondly, the independence of the judges in their work. If the judiciary is not admitted to be of an independent entity, so, what is the use of the judges' independence? Then, if unspecified persons, by any motive, were pushed into the judicial system, what is the use of the system's independence? What is the usefulness of this independence as long as we attack the neutrality of judiciary and force it among the political mazes to become a part of the ruler's will?
We clarified, quickly, the
rank of the judicial system and its necessity for an intact and straight life.
What about the judicial system in
1 - The Judges' Immunity in the Syrian Legislation:
We will not go back to further decades but we will talk about the judges' immunity from the year 1961. The Legislative Decree No. 98 was issued in 15.11.1961, which since that date it had many adjustments. The immunity was meant for protecting the judges from segregation and transfer.
"Segregation" means the dismissal from service, "transfer" means the transfer into another country or job. (Art. 92)
All judges, jurists and attorneys have the segregation immunity (Art. 1/92) except the judges, who did not, yet, pass three years of appointment (Art. 1/93). All judges have transfer immunity (Art. 92) except the following:
- Judges in the office of the attorney general, who are transferred by an issued decree according to the suggestion of the Minister of Justice.
- New judges who did not pass three years of appointment in the judiciary.
- Judges who demanded their transfer in writing.
- Judges who passed three years in their appointment but necessities require their transfer.
- Judges who are transferred according to promotion from one grade to a higher one.
- Judges who are convicted by the Supreme Council of Judiciary with a more intense penalty than cutting off the salary.
- New assistants of judges, judges of Sharia and inquiry (Art. 2/93).
It is not allowed to
transfer a judge or delegate him into a job of a lower grade (Art. 84), or
transfer him into another cadre in the state unless he demands and the Supreme
Council agrees (Art. 1/85). Also, it is not allowed to have in the same court
jurist judges or attorneys' judges with relatives from the fourth grade or
less. If the relationship, affinity, occurred between two judges in the same
court, then one of them has to demand his transfer, or the relative-in-law
would be transferred (Art. 88). This means that even if the relative-in-law has
immunity, he will loose it in this case. This legislation did not allow the
lawsuit penalty against the judges who commit crimes during their work or out
of work unless submitted by the attorney general of the Republic according to
the permission of a judiciary committee, composed of the
Accordingly, we would like to refer to the judges of the State Council that study the administrative cases. The law No. 55 of year 1959 indicated that the members of the state council, whose grades are counselors' assistants and higher, could not be segregated. The deputies, who did not, continuously, pass three years in their jobs or in similar ones that have immunity, could be segregated. Still, if it were clarified that anyone of the mentioned judges lost trust and consideration, which are required in the judicial job, he would be remitted to retirement by a Decree of the President after the agreement of the mentioned committee in Article No. 64. The punitive and complain committee is composed of judges from the mentioned council, headed by the head of the council. The Article No. 66 of Law No. 55 indicated the methods of forming the committee.
Due to this legislation, the transfer immunity is withdrawn from the judges when they are promoted from one grade to another, but not in the same city. The immunity of transfer is omitted from judges, who did not pass three years in their jobs, according to the necessity. Also, the jurist judges could be transferred into the attorney general office or the contrary by an issued decision from the Minister of Justice after the agreement of the Supreme Council (Art. 83) with no need for the judge's agreement. The segregation immunity of a judge does not mean the inability to dismiss him at all. The dismissal could be accomplished by an issued decision of the Supreme Judiciary Council. The Supreme Council is considered a punitive council for judges, in case they commit deeds that defame and disgrace their conduct. Thus, the supreme council takes the decision of segregation according to the opinion of the majority of members after proving the judge's moral defects. This means that the legislation entrusted a complete judicature institute, which is the Supreme Judiciary Council, to determine the judges' matters of appointing, promoting, transferring, segregating and chastening. Composing the council of seven judges plus the head of the Supreme Court, confirms the immunity of the judges and their independence.
Many legislation were added as follow:
- Decision No. 124, dated 15.06.1923.
- Decision No. 238, dated 02.06.1928.
- Legislative Decree No. 15 dated 19.10.1946.
- Legislative Decree No. 80, dated 30.06.1947.
- Legislative Decree No. 19, dated 10.07.1952.
- Legislative Decree No. 133, dated 08.10.1953.
It is noticed that there was much submitted legislation. The multiplicity of legislations in the judicial authority created an unsettled atmosphere for judges to work. Besides, withdrawing immunity is much more reflected on the judged individuals than the judges themselves.
2 - The Judiciary Power in the Syrian Constitutions and the other legislative Clauses:
During the period of independence, the judiciary authority passed through many conditions as follow:
A - The Syrian Constitution of 1953:
The constitution gave great importance to the judicial system and was concerned about its independence; therefore, Article No. 113 indicated the following:
1) The Supreme Court is composed of seven members, one of them is nominated the head of the court.
2) The member of this court has to be:
a - Obtaining the provisions of election to the office of attorney general.
b - A graduate with the
academic degree "License of Law" from the
c - Aged 40 years old and above.
d - Had practiced law, judgment and university teaching, or one of these jobs for at least 10 years.
Article No. 118 indicated:
1) The Supreme Judiciary Council is composed of seven members:
a - The head of the Supreme Court is the head of the council.
b - Two members from the Supreme Court, which are chosen by the court.
c - Four higher ranked judges from the court of preference.
2) This council supervises the affairs of the jurist judges, which are related to their work.
Article No. 119 indicated the following:
"According to the provisions of law, the head of the supreme council and the Minister of Justice have the right to submit suggestions for appointing, promoting, transferring, disciplining and segregating the judges. The supreme judicial council takes decisions on these suggestions by the absolute majority of the members and informs its decision to the Ministry of Justice to be executed, according to law, with an issued decree or decision".
B - In 1962, the legislative decree No. 120, dated 11.09.1962, indicated in the 3rd Article the following:
"The text of Article No. 65 is canceled and replaced by what follows: the supreme council is composed of:
- The Court of Cassation's head becomes the head of the council.
- The three deputies of the head of the Cassation's Courts.
- The secretary-general of the Ministry of Justice.
- The oldest councilor of the Cassation's Court.
In the absence of the head of Cassation's Court or one of his deputies or the head of Appeal's Court, the judge who follows in seniority at his court replaces him. If the secretary-general is absent, the more senior judge of the central directory replaces him".
C - The Syrian Constitution of year 1973:
The authorities of the state are detailed in the second section of the Syrian Constitution. The first chapter explains the legislative authority, the second chapter explains the executive authority and indicates that the President of the Republic is the head of the executive authority. From the Article No. 83 till the Article No. 114, the constitution explains the methods of candidature and election of the President.
Studying these articles clarifies that the President of the Republic dominates and controls all the authorities, completely, in a way that nothing could be resolved without his will. Thus, the President represents a center that is more powerful than the centers of some kings and princes. This center is absolute without a successor for the president's opinion or judgment. That is why the constitution became prepared to give absolute power for the executive authority, which is headed by the President of the Republic. We are not going to approach the jurisdictions of the president, but we expose them in order to explain the positions of the judicatory authority and pass through all the sides that control the judicial system.
The Syrian Constitution of 1973, the third chapter, which is titled "The Judiciary Authority" indicated the following:
- Article No. 132: "The President of the Republic heads the Supreme Council and the law clarifies the method of formation, specialization and the rules of its work".
- Article No. 133:
1 - The judges are independent and no power affects their judgments other than law.
2 - The judges' honor, conscience and impartiality guarantee the people's rights and freedoms.
- Article No. 134:
"Judgments are issued by the name of the Arab Nation in
- Article No. 135: "The law organizes the judicial system with all its classes, types, grades and clarifies the rules of specialization in the various courts".
- Article No. 136: "The law clarifies the provisions of appointing, promoting, transferring, chastening and segregating the judges".
- Article No. 137: "The Attorney General is one judicial organization, headed by the Minister of Justice. The law organizes its function and specialization".
- Article No. 138: "The State Council practices the administrative judiciary. The law defines the provisions of appointing, promoting, chastening and dismissing its judges".
Although this chapter is titled for the judiciary authority, but it does not mention that this authority is independent. Article No. 132 clarifies that the President is the head of the executive power and the head of the Supreme Judiciary Council. While the Article No. 133 clarifies that the judges are independent without any effects other than law, this text becomes meaningless when judicature is forced among the political rules. Thus, the judge becomes an adherent to Ba'ath Party and a follower to a despotic ruling authority, or rather becomes a part of the current regime!
Introductions that Led to Results:
What happened in
A - The
If the judicial authority
is not completely independent from the legislative authority, the judiciary
independence from the legislative one has no meaning. The right for judging
should not be concealed from people by any legislation or under any
circumstances. Also, the judiciary judgments should not be canceled or banned.
Besides, the immunity of segregation or transfer should not be approached by
any claim. Actually, the executive authority can spread its power whenever it
wants by using legal covers. This is what happens in
If we study the texts of the present judicial law we find that the immunity is nominal and illusionary. The immunity of transfer was omitted from the jurist judges at promoting them, as well as, the judges who passed three years or more in their assignments in case it is necessary to transfer them. Even for promotion, the former legislation did not allow the transfer without a written agreement by the judge himself. This was issued in the Article No. 79 of the legislative decree No. 80 in 1947 and the Article No. 96 of the legislated decree in 1946. The present legislation permitted the transfer of jurist judges into the office of the attorney general (Art. 83) without the agreement of the judge himself. Thus, the immunity of the judge becomes weak and exposed to be stolen.
B - The
Usually, the executive authority interferes with the assignment of judges, protects their ranks and promotions and subjugates them to a special system, which is connected to civil and chastening responsibilities. Also, the executive authority suspends the accomplishment of judicial verdicts or the decisions of the Supreme Judiciary Council. Thus, the judicial authority is not completely independent.
If we go back to the contexts of the law we find that the Article No. 65 of the Judicial Law, which was issued by the adjusted Decree No. 98 in 1961, indicated the following:
The Supreme Judiciary Council is composed of:
- The President, represented by the Minister of Justice -The Head
- The head of
- The two most senior deputies of Cassation court's head -Members
- The assistant of the Minister of Justice -A member
- The Attorney General -A member
- The Chairman of Judicial Supervision Directory -A member
If the Minister's assistant or the Chairman are absent, the director of the legislative directory replaces them. If any of the other members is absent, then the most senior counselor in the Cassation court completes the quorum.
Accordingly, the Minister of Justice became the head of the judicial authority and the majority of the council followed him. So, this authority was not independent any more, but became one department of the states' institutions, which was directed by the Minister of Justice.
Nowadays, we find Ministers without enough judicial experience heading the Supreme Council that includes judges, who spent their whole life serving judicature. So, how can we interpret this? After all the mentioned facts, can we say that the Judicial Authority is an independent Power? Of course Not!
C - The Exceptional Judicatures:
How was the judicial system divested of its independent authority? And how its neutrality was invaded?
The establishment of exceptional judicatures is a queer method of the totalitarian systems, which do not accept the specialization of the normal judiciary in specific crimes or conflicts. Removing authority from the normal judiciary for a certain crime or a conflict uncover the partiality of treatment. If the matters were to be resolved by law, there would not have been a need for establishing exceptional tribunals or special committees even if these established tribunals were not provided with exceptional authorities that exceed the general law and violated its guarantees. According to the research of Mr. Nasri Mulla Haidar in the magazine of lawyers, forming such tribunals and committees violates the principle of judicial neutrality.
1 - Military Courts, which were described by the constitutional experts as a queer method that does not accord with the normal judiciary of independent authority. Also, it does not accord with the democratic method. Many decrees, some of which were Arabic, prohibited the establishment of such exceptional tribunals.
2 - Some of the exceptional tribunals are the military courts, which do not comply with rules or sanctions. The judges in these courts should not be, necessarily, graduated lawyers or related to the field of law. Originally, these courts are specialized for judging the soldiers in certain cases. Nevertheless, a legislative decree imposed widening the jurisdictions of these courts to judge the civil people.
3 - Also, another court is
4 - The laws established other special committees like, the committees for controlling the salaries of agricultural work and labors' dismissal, plus others.
5 - The
All these courts and committees stole the specialization of judiciary and restricted its work within a limited range, besides, violated its neutrality and dignity.
The mentioned decree
included one judge named Ahmed Rashed. He was deputized for heading the
military court, which judged the participants of
In 1966, the writer of this
report was deputized for work in the Libyan Judiciary. The authority issued a
legislative decree that indicated the omission of the judicial immunity, thus,
24 judges were dismissed from work and I was one of them. Also, Mr. Abd Al
Kader Al Aswad, the head of the Cassation court was dismissed. He was one of
the biggest judicial personalities in
Judges are the commanders of right, who are necessary for the command of power, because the power without right means tyranny and theft of rights. The command of power for the sake of right rectifies the false and saves the humans from loss among the law of the jungle. The human governments have two criterion powers of control, the power of law and the power of arms. Judges who are above fear and blame or influences, should direct the power of law, otherwise, the power of arms would predominate and lead to the domination of the military systems above the civil systems(2).
In addition, most institutions of the state reject executing the judicial verdicts. Actually, those who refuse to execute any judicial verdict would have a legal penalty. Nevertheless, a wrong perverted jurisprudence prevented querying the Minister, who refuses to execute the judicial verdicts, except by the President of the Republic. The directory of prompt that follows the Ministry of Justice issued this jurisprudence.
Accordingly, we can notice
how the judiciary authority collapsed, completely, in
It is useful to review some
establishments in the
This will clarify that the
executive authority and the following Party's organizations had penetrated into
the depth of the judicial system and its entity, plus, stole its liberty and
independence. If we enter the
1 - A room for the Party's group.
2 - A room for the pledge of allegiance.
3 - The economical court is located in the last floor. It is closed and its sessions are secretly held. The lawyers are prohibited to see its files. It is similar to an institution of security, which has no relation with law.
4 - The pictures cover the walls of the courts in a way that spoils the judiciary's dignity and transform the court into an exhibition for portraits. This view does not accord with the general sense of a Palace that heads for justice.
Finally, I present all the mentioned points for the whole society. Probably, there would be a listening ear that would regain the honor and neutrality for the judicial authority and guarantee immunity for the judges to protect them from the fear of "Sultan" and the worry about their future and their families. Accordingly, we can guarantee an important fortress to protect the whole society from the tyranny of arbitrariness and oppression, thus, people become tranquil about their future.
(*) "The Holy
Qur'an", 4th edition, Amana Corporation,
1) The mentioned decree at the end of the research.
The legislative decree No. 40
The President of the State
According to the verdicts of law No. 2 issued by the temporary Regional Leadership of Ba'ath dated 25.02.1966, and the Council of Ministers' decision No. 334, on 29.05.1966, the following was decided:
Article No. 1: Contrary to all valid verdicts, especially, the Article No. 92 of the judicial law No. 98, dated 15.11.1961 and its adjustments, the Council of Ministers is allowed, for 24 hours and for its estimated reasons, to decide the following:
1 - To dismiss the judges from employment.
2 - To transfer the judges from their cadres to any other cadre.
This decision does not require justification or include reasons for dismissal or transfer.
The judge is dismissed or transferred by a decree, which is unable to be reviewed. Moreover, it is not allowed for the state council or the general institute of the cassation court or any judicial source or any other administrative source to review, object, contest or appeal against the imposed decree. The rights of the dismissed judge are settled according to the law of retirement.
Article No. 2: This legislative decree is to be declared and considered valid right after issuing.
The President of the Republic
Dr. Noor Al Deen Al Atasi
The Social And Psychological Effects
On the DΕtente
And the Deprivation of Civil Rights
Mohammed Issam Dimashki(*)
Prison, is the most widely spread and applied mean of discipline. It is classified under the mechanism of control and restrain, which is used by the governments and regimes to produce and reproduce the social and political control. Therefore, prison is the distinguished machinery through which the concentrated work is accomplished to achieve the mentioned goal. This implementation is used to fulfill the social, political and security application and reach the final goal, which is the continuity of the ruler and the subjugation of the ruled.
Human, historical, political, moral and democratic developments discussed the role of prison as a social function. Also, they questioned if the prison is a form of punishment, could it succeed to restrain the prisoner from violating the law again? Does prison and its elements, such as, the jailer, prisoner's relationships, the system of the prison and the moral-social views of the prison, allow the rehabilitation of the prisoners? Furthermore, would prison achieve the second social function, which is restraining the individuals of society from violating the law? Most responses were negative. Often, prison produces criminals, who make benefit of other prisoners' experiences, and become more dangerous. Moreover, the relationship between the prisoner and the jailer causes a lot of deformations for both sides. It also, opens a wide span of corruption. Still, in spite of the anticipated knowledge about the results of wrong deeds, the individuals of society continue their violations to law. This means that the elements of the social and economical position overcome the expected role of prison.
The study of the social
function of prison is an important matter, which is not approached yet,
The function of the Political Prison:
The political prison aims at the reproduction of political control to the class, group, Party, government and others. It also, aims at restraining or eliminating the opposition. It is clear that this function is related to the non-democratic political systems. In a democratic country, the existence of a political prisoner, who might often be arrested because of an act of violence, is related to the function of state-society. Actually, it is related to democratic institutions, state of law and independent judiciary, but not to the service of a certain authority or a regime. Thus, law and judiciary are independent from the direct politics and from the temporary benefits of the governments. Even the governments' political interference seems to be a part of social reproduction, which is understood and accepted by the political and social institutions.
The non-democratic system has different titles, such as, national, socialist, communist, nationalistic, Islamic, and others. In these systems, prison, in addition to the other worse historical mechanisms, like eliminations, executions, genocides and others, are the direct means to reproduce the political control of a ruling authority that considers itself the representative of the historical, revolutionary or religious legitimacy. This authority permits the application of all implements to consolidate its control. All the forms of regimes relay on one mutual well-known Machiavellian principle, which has two divisions, first, "the end justifies the means", secondly, the exclusion of morals away from politics.
W. Reich says in his speech to "The Small Man of the Street", "You believe that an end justifies the means, even these villainous means. You are wrong, the end paves for itself a way to reach it. Thus, each step you make today is a part of your life for the future. There are no clean ends, which could be reached by villainous means. The wickedness or inhumanity of the way makes you villainous or inhuman and make the goal impossible to reach"(1).
As for the systems, which do not consider its important source is the human, the individual, it is so easy to accept the genocide of millions of those, who confuse or destroy the achievement of a communist future. Also, they accept the imprisonment and execution of millions, or thousands of those, who object the nationalistic unification, social reformation, progress, socialism or antagonize imperialism!
nationalist, Nadeem Al Bittar, said: "If the leadership of the new state,
The bad and dangerous side is that some rulers, intellectuals or politicians do not only monopolize these beliefs, but also these beliefs expand to include wide sectors of masses. Actually, the masses are the most hurt of such practiced system because of "the repressional conscience", as Hadi Al Alawi described that. In fact, the social diversion is still superficial and could not make fundamental diversions for people's behaviors and consciousness. Usually, the changes are related to the forms, which clarify the repressional conscience(3).
We should not only face the oppression of the rulers, but the oppression of the groups and individuals, who are against the desecration of human rights, because they suffer from that as well. Still, they are ready to practice opression, and they do it, even through their opposition. However, the essential problem is related to the authorities, because they own the controlling system and have the capacities and implements of influence and actions. Therefore, instead of "directing the mutual affairs logically"(4), as Kawakebi defined the politics, the authority practices despotism and "the dispose of mutual affairs according to its whims"(5).
Again, does prison accomplish the continuity and the reproduction of the political control? The answer would be on two levels, the first is an imminent and direct one. On this level we have to confess that the authority, often, achieves its goals, except in some exceptional historical periods in which the repression is rebounded toward the rulers, then, the oppositions stop and deter the nation. However, the society becomes tamed, subservient, contemptible and tractable. This will enable the ruler to continue his governing without the need for comprehensive powerful restrains, which he applied at some periods.
"Tigers at the Tenth Day" is a short story written by Tamer Zakria. The writer expresses the growth of subjection in a wonderful way. "At the beginning, the jailed tiger was not asked for more than confessing its hunger, and the food would be afforded. Then, the tiger was ordered to become motionless, later, to imitate cats' meow, donkey's braying and clapping for the trainer. At last, the trainer considered the tiger a flatterer, thus, he punished the tiger by feeding it grass instead of meat. By the tenth day, the trainer and his students disappeared, the tiger and the cage, too. The tiger became a citizen and the cage a city!"(6) The magnificent speech was "Citizens, we have, previously, clarified in many occasions, our attitude toward the fateful matters. However the antagonistic powers conspired, this strict attitude will never change, and by faith, we will gain victory"(7).
The second level is a further and historical one. In fact, no one guarantees that the comprehensive and the deep repression procedures consolidate neither the continuity of the system forever nor the non-collapsing of the historical changes, whether it happens peacefully and quietly or violently. Here, we have, in particular, the former experiences of the socialist countries. Without doubts, this historical experience urged and will urge the rulers not to ignore this reality.
The tangible level of our
research, here, relates to the imminent and direct level. Therefore, we will
try to observe the effects of detention and prison phenomena, which often
continue for a long time, as well as, all the accompanying severe violations of
human rights that influenced all the sides of living in
The Effects of the Detention Phenomenon:
It was narrated that one Arab president said once, the following:
"In his country, he had people who looked for high ranks and he could afford the right positions for them. Also, he had people who desired wealth, which he could afford. On the other hand, he had people who did not want neither ranks nor money, thus, they had to go to prison". This vision relies on the principle of "eternity", punishment and reward. The punishment is for the opponents and the reward is for the followers. Even though, we should not forget that the mentioned narration includes valuable appraisal of the opposition who do not desire either money or prestige. This evaluation contradicts the speech of the regime, which accuses the oppositions for running after authority, or serving their own external or internal benefits. In fact, the oppositions are people of programs, whether wrong or right programs, which should have the chance to interact with the actual events and thoughts. The program's interactions must reach to people, to enable self-correction and to have the real chance of effectiveness.
Without gaining money or rank, most of the individuals of the nation prefer to live in peace, if they can have peace, and rely on the aphorism "Kiss the hand you cannot break and wish it to be broken". Thus, when the opposition emerges, the nation, or part of it might sympathize with it, but they remain cautious and negative as long as the authority is the stronger side.
Of course, this principle
has exceptions. In
For a certain period, it
seemed that the regime perceived the depth of the social movement. Therefore,
before settling completely, the political leaderships of the regime had limited
attempts of self-revision. Also, they listened to the opinions of the intellectuals,
writers and scholars, and thought about developing the ruling Progressive
National Front. Soon, the regime introverted and was convinced to exceed the
crisis of the country by depending on the Party's heritage and the
commandment's experience. Thus, the regime decided the dissolution of the
opposing associations of the professionals, such as, lawyers, engineers and
doctors. Also, it detained some of the associations' leaders(8) and re-established all the unions in a way
that guarantees support to the regime. On the military and security level, the
regime defeated the armed disobedience in
The regime exceeded its crisis, but founded a deeper crisis in the society, which made people full of fear. Accordingly, the families of the killed, missed and jailed citizens had to withdraw and endure their wounds, also, most common people withdrew and took care of their living conditions. The intellectuals retreated to their private creations and the oppositions dislodged in the near and far countries. The rest, who remained, suffered very difficult conditions of living and remained without any considerable efficiency in the political field. Thus, our country became the country of fear.
The last annual report of
Committees for Humans Rights, which was issued for the first time inside
This number of prisoners deserves to be viewed, especially that the prisoners were subjugated to exceptional tribunals and oppressive verdicts, thus, most of them spent long periods in jail. The late improvements of detentions and arrests do not give us an excuse to ignore studying this phenomenon and approach its negative effects on society and the individuals. We, clearly, warn the new generations of the danger of this phenomenon and we help to understand it and attempt to decrease its tragic influences.
Prison of Mazzah was the
most important political prison and, probably, the only one in
The delight for closing the
Mazzah Military prison, lately, has a symbolic value, especially, for the
prisoners. When this prison was closed, it included a little number of
political prisoners, less than five prisoners. In fact, the real delight
happens after the closure of
The political prisoners are treated much worse than the other prisoners. This paradox is clarified in all means of imprisonment, such as, place, treatment, food, visits, and financial assistance from domestic associations, besides, permitting the prisoners to continue their university studies and other facilities. This contradicts the legal codes, which require regarding the social and political conditions that caused the political offence and to deal with the political prisoner according to this view.
The mentioned paradox means doubling the negative effects of the imprisonment's phenomenon, in general. This phenomenon expanded and exceeded the individual cases, which affect the prisoner's family, relatives and friends. Actually, it reached the extent of causing a real social disturbance that could be recognized in various regions and among wide range of the masses' mediums. In fact, this matter needs specialized field studies by researchers and psychologists. Until now, the researches have the following obstacles:
1) The ruling authorities prohibit any approach to these files because they consider this subject has one aim, which is to libel and scandalize them. Moreover, the authorities do not care for the social effects of detention.
2) The lack of secured environment, which allow the injured persons to present their information and experiences of prison. The former condition of terrorism that they suffered at prison is still alive in their images; thus, they often prefer to keep silent or to falsify flowery information. Former prisoners suppose that they might be interrogated or pursued again, in a time that they are tired of their bitter experience and desire to settle and rest. Also, most of them believe that giving any information, which unmasks the authority might obstruct the release of the remaining prisoners.
3) Lack of education and consciousness among masses about the importance of the human rights. When knowledge is found, it is usually restricted among the political and intellectual elite, who started to pay attention to the importance of this matter, especially, the leftist elite.
4) Lack of public organizations, which are dedicated to defend the Human rights. The members of the unique above-mentioned organization were detained and scattered. Although this committee returned back to work, by the connivance of the authority, it runs activities without a legal frame and it issues statements on its own responsibility.
In the spring of 2001, the authority closed various forums, which were concerned with reformation and democracy. The Forum of Khalil Ma'took for Human Rights was closed at the beginning of its activity. The forum's aim was to spread the education and consciousness of human rights. This forum included lawyers and intellectual activists of different political and ideological directions.
The work of the opposing political organizations still has obstacles because of restrictions and lack of press and informational freedoms. Due to the endured forced absence from society over a long time, the relations of these organizations with masses weakened or became disconnected, especially, with the new generation. Besides, the work of the organizations still needs to be developed and deepened. So, this work requires an environment of democratic freedoms in order to grow.
5) The applied
political-intellectual speech about the local, cultural and national
particularity accuses the activities of human rights and who deal with that of
prejudice and serving the imperialistic policies. This speech is still
prevailing, officially, and is adopted by the Parties of the Progressive
National Front, which assisted by its silence and deliberate mislead to
disguise the real position of the human rights in
This expresses the case of
big parts of the Syrian intellectuals who consider democracy one of their
political primacies. The particularity of our country is not less than the
other countries of the third world. Still, there is a tangible progress of
human rights in other Arab countries like,
In spite of the above-mentioned obstacles, I will try to approach the effects of the prison's experience within three axes. The first relates to the prisoners, the second relates to the society and the third is related to the jailer (the institutions of detention and the prison).
The Positions of the
The estimated number of prisons in
There are differences between the positions of prisons according to the place and variations that relate to the specific period of imprisonment. The permanent position is that there is no law, which organizes the conditions of the prisoners and defines the ways of their treatment. The jurisdictions of the prisons' directors and the directions of the security branches differ from time to time and from one prison to another, depending on this director or that head of a branch or others. Besides, the treatment of political prisoners differs from one group to another. This confirms what we pointed out before about the political reference in dealing with the prisoners and the political and security benefits of the regime and its institutions, which are far from relating to a legal or human reference. Any law, however oppressive, has restrictions on the jailers' behaviors, but this type of jailer cannot accept these restrictions.
Generally, the worst treatments were noticed with the religious groups, then, with those who were Pro-Iraqi Ba'ath. There was no recognition between, who used arms and who did not, or who belonged to an organization or did not, or who had a real relation with the organization or was near from one of the organizers. Religiousness was considered a strategic reserve for armed work, thus, prisoners were treated according to what they might be. Therefore, the known juridical principle, which relates to the innocence of the accused until the accusation is confirmed, was completely blown up. This principle is confirmed in the International Declaration of Human Rights, Article No. 11.
One bitter paradox is that
The discrimination between the political powers might seem logical if the law is considered the origin of recognition. Indeed, those who commit crimes and violence must be treated legally, even if they have death sentences. However, this punishment is still a subject for discussions.
Another paradox is that corruption has a positive role because it improves the position of the prisoners and renders them services during some times and in certain conditions. Visits, which were prohibited, were achieved by big amounts of money and valuable gifts for the director of the prison first or to his relatives, or to an officer at one of the branches. The families were ready to pay big amounts of money just to be sure that their sons were still alive! From time to time, there were scandals here and there about the collusion of inquisitors and security cadres to render services for the prisoners in return for money. In many cases, the families were the victims of extortion, which was practiced by some authority cadres, who contacted the parents and claimed having information about their detained sons.
In our attempt to study the positions of the prisoners, we choose three sources. The first is an old source in order to confirm two points, firstly, that the attention for the positions of prisons is not just a modern novelty because its relation to the human side assures reviewing in previous historical periods. Secondly, it is connected to what is called "local particularity". This means that those who are convinced with the local particularity are, eventually, ignoring the elevation of the human thoughts. The second source is new and international, which expresses the human and civilized rise. Flowingly, the third is related to the subject of prisoners and to human rights in general.
The First Source: It was mentioned in the book of Hadi Al Alawi "Chapters from the Political Islamic History"(10) as follows:
"Abu Saif, Judge of Judges during the rule of Haroon Al Rasheed, presented a plan for reforming prisons, which deteriorated so badly. Actually, the government did not provide any sustenance for the prisoners and left them to be sustained by their families. In the case of poor prisoners, they let them go begging, chained and guarded by jailers. The directory did not bury the dead prisoner; it left that job for his companions at the same dormitory. Besides, the dead prisoner was buried without any religious rituals, such as, wash, shroud and prayers. Abu Yusef condemned these positions and said to Al Rasheed: "Adam's son cannot be stripped of guilt", therefore, committing violations is not his nature, but because of two reasons: "either ignorance or destiny". So, the punishment should not be exaggerated, to become a sort of vengeance".
Plan of reformation:
It was as follows:
1) To appoint a fair employee to register the names of wretched prisoners.
2) To allot monthly amounts to be paid for the registered prisoners, each had 10 Dirhams per month.
3) To afford clothes for the prisoners.
4) Wealthy prisoners had to sustain themselves.
5) To review the cases of the prisoners. Thus, each prisoner who deserved punishment would be punished and who was innocent should be released.
6) To prohibit beating the prisoners.
7) To use common methods of inquiry and to prohibit the confession by force of torture. Any confession under torture can not be regarded".
The Second Source: Haytham Manna mentioned it in "A Short Universal Encyclopedia of Human Rights"(11).
In our age, the rights of prisoners were issued in a convention adopted by the first conference of the United Nations in 1955. It was about the protection from crimes and the treatment of prisoners. Then, it was adopted by the Social and Economical Council in May 1977.
The formation of these rights start from considering the prisoner, firstly and lastly, a human being, and the prison cannot deprive him of this value. In fact, "imprisonment" is a punishment; thus, the prisoner should not be exposed to other additional punishments. The rights approve for the prisoners the minimum ideal rules, which should not be contested. These rules are connected with the prisoner's right to live, his safety, his health, his human dignity, and to have a fair application of law. Besides, the prisoner should not be exposed to torture, maltreatment or humiliation, as well as, discrimination of any type, whether nationalist ethnic, sectarian, racial or religious. Also, the prisoner has the freedom of faith and religion and the right for family life respect, plus, the right for self-development".
Third Source: Is the International Declaration of Human Rights, from which we chose the following paragraphs:
A Comparative Study:
1) The origin of punishment:
In the old text, "not to exaggerate the punishment and turn it into a vengeance". In the new text, "the existence of a person in prison is a punishment, thus, he should not be exposed to other punishments".
2) The Legal Position:
In the old text, it means, "reviewing the prisoners cases", in the new text, it means "the fair application of law".
There exist in
We will not approach a
specified legal study of this field, but we can say, in general, that there is
no legal practice for detentions, responsible inquiry, punishment or release.
This position opposes some items of the Syrian Constitution and contradicts the
International Treaties, which
In the old text, it means "the use of common methods without torture and if the detained confessed by force, then his confession wont be regarded". In the new text, the detained "should not be exposed to torture"(15).
Finally, we can say that the Judge Abu Yusef approached an important side that concerned the prisoners' inquiry. Even though, a confession would be applied against the prisoner and, accordingly, would be punished, most often, the prisoners confess in order to escape from torture. Of course, it is not regarded that this confession was by force or under the psychological or material pressure. If someone would deny his confession, which was extorted by the force of security bodies, he will be exposed to a new torture ordered by the civil court until he repeats his confession.
4) The Treatment of Prisoners:
In the old text, it is mentioned that "it is prohibited to beat prisoners". In the new text, "it is prohibited to maltreat or humiliate the prisoner, or to place him in a dark cell. Also, it is prohibited to combine the solitary isolation with any other kind of punitive punishments"(17).
Those who had passed by
There are unbelievable
stories about the methods of torture and insult, which the jailers applied,
Lately, a Syrian lawyer
published an important study, where he approached what he called as the
"secret law", which is prohibited of publication. This law prevents
the Syrian judicatory to review the crimes of homicide and torture, which are
committed by the bodies of security agencies(19). Certainly, this law violates the constitutional and legal
rules, which protect the citizen from the authority's attacks, and the known
lists of human rights and the International Treaties that
In the old text, there is no direct deal with this subject. In the new text, "Athens Part", "the doctors commit themselves to provide the best care for prisoners' health, for whatever reasons, without any anticipated discrimination. As for respecting the morals of profession, the prisoners have the right to receive the best possible health care"(20).
In general, health care is very bad in all the Syrian prisons and branches, even at the best military prisons, like Saidnaia prison. Often, by the virtue of some imprisoned doctors, the health of the prisoners improves, as well as, when they can afford the price of medicines and all the costs of dental treatments. Besides, the prisoner could check with specialized doctors in the hospital and have surgeries.
6) The living conditions:
In the old text, it is required to "allot amounts of money for those who have no sources of living" and "to provide clothes". In the new text, it is required to have "cleanness of clothing, enough nutritious meals and proper drinking water"(21).
Clothing conditions were so
much miserable and were, rarely, provided for prisoners. In
The old text did not deal with this subject. The new text recognizes the "right to respect the family life".
The directories of prisons do not care at all about this side. On the contrary, the security institutions always try to sow dissension between the prisoner and his family and falsify accusations about him to defame his reputation among his family, besides bearing him the responsibility of being in prison. The directories of the prisons do the same falsifications when families, who try to visit their sons, are called.
8) Freedom of belief:
The old text did not deal with this subject. The new text approved the right for "freedom of belief and religion".
In our country, the
prisoner is not allowed to practice his religious rituals, if he does, he
practices that secretly. The atheist prisoner cannot reveal his general ideas
or his political attitudes, if he does, then he will be exposed to more
punishments. During Ramadan, meals are served in the evening and early morning,
which means that the government admits the right of fasting. Still, the
believers, who want to fast and pray, receive punishments in
The old text did not deal with this subject. The new text cleared the prohibition of "discrimination or alignment of any national or ethnic or sectarian or gender or religious sort".
The question is: How a
non-Alawi prisoner could be convinced that there are no
existence of authority's sectarianism when he finds all the directors of
Is not there a meaning for having most of the discipline assistants and sergeants from Alawi sect? Such directors, helped Saraya Al Difaa to execute the Massacre of Palmyra. The victims of this Massacre were estimated from 600 hundred to 1000 thousand murdered persons. Actually, the Alawi inquisitor and the Alawi cadre, who gives the orders for torture and practices that, is unable to ignore the sectarian charge loaded by the regime, being the protector of his existence from the danger of Muslim Brotherhood. Considering the cadre's cultivation and education, the charged load must affect his feelings and unconsciousness. There are two points to be mentioned:
First, Sunni cadres who work in prisons are, usually, directed to execute orders. Sunnis feel that they have to prove their loyalties toward the authority. Thus, they exaggerate the application of orders, so that they won't be accused of sympathizing with their own Sunni prisoners.
Second, Alawi security and military cadres do not exaggerate like Sunni's do against the opposing secularist prisoners, because they include many Alawis and other sects of minorities.
To include all about the subject of prisoners, we need to mention the following:
The Detention and imprisonment of Juveniles:
Usually, juveniles who
violate the law are transferred to special Reformatories, which apply special
legal considerations for their age. In
exceptional court, which was accused by the prisoners that it made the ages of some juveniles older in order to send them to the Gallows.
The Female Prisoners:
At prison, the corrupted oriental man of the regime finds an open chance to practice all the contradictory conducts of a sex-hungry man or, whose sexual life with his wife is not sufficient enough or who has a spoiled sexual cultivation. In detention, the privacy of homes and women are never respected(22). If this happened, then it is due to an individual conduct and moral, which does not accord with the fast missions of attacking and sudden arrests.
Women were, often, detained
as hostages or relatives of the detained or fleeting men, without considering
their pregnancy or parturition. When
During the inquiry, in addition to the general methods of torture, a woman is subjugated to sexual torture. Women were stripped of their clothes, tortured and threatened with rape, and they were really raped sometimes, according to the narration of some female prisoners. Also, women were hanged and cauterized on their legs and thighs. Cigarettes were extinguished on the sensitive spots of woman's body, as well as, electrical shocks. Relatives, like fathers, brothers and husbands, were obliged to watch the torture of their relative women in order to make pressure upon them.
Lack of accuracy or the exaggeration of some prisoners requires cautiousness until the results of investigations, which are carried by neutral sides, appear. However, it does not seem that the authorities would accept this investigation in order to restrict the real size of violations and protect the responsible cadres. To define the level of responsibilities, the received directions and orders, the individuals' level and role of responsibility in all the violations is actually a very critical matter to be investigated.
The Prisoners of Other Arab Nationalities:
Due to political disagreement
with the leadership of PLO, the detention of great numbers of Palestinians
exceeded the particularity of the Palestinian matter. As these detentions were
launched by the name of the
The same matter happened
with the Lebanese, whom most of them were released at the end of last year. The
discordance is still unfinished with the families of the rest-unreleased dΕtentes. Although the Syrian regime recognized the
sovereignty of the
In our study, we can notice that the Syrian Constitution as a resource was ignored. During the last thirty years, the constitution did not obtain one text that would assist to appeal for the positions of the prisoners. In fact, the applied exceptional laws and practices do not regard accordance with the constitution, which suffers many contradictions and needs additions and adjustments, mainly, to consider the international treaties that relate to human rights as more powerful resources than the local laws.
The Social and Psychological effects of the prison on the prisoner:
After reviewing the positions of the prisoners, we transfer to the effects of the prison. We will study the result of social, psychological and sexual suffering of those who are still living inside or outside the prison. At prison, I read a study, which I do not know its source, about an experiment that was applied on a couple of rats. The rats were put in a smaller space than the usual needed one for their movements. The behaviors of the rats were watched for sometime. As a result, due to the narrow space, the rats became nervous with clear agitation. Moreover, the rats practiced queer sex. Actually, the complexity of the nervous and cerebral systems of the human produces more suffering than the rats' suffer. Prison is that "Ghoul, which swallowed the kids", as Haseebah Abd Al Rahman said in her novel "The Cocoon". She wrote: "Mom, what changes happened to the kids, after they spend time inside the Ghoul...and after their bloods were sucked..??!"(23).
Months ago, I heard the following story: "A woman was asking her neighbor, how is your son who came out of prison? I hope he is not mixed up because my relative, who spent a long time in prison, is in difficult condition and unhealthy to live normally".
The experiences, which a prisoner passes through, affect him mentally and psychologically; thus, they are clearly reflected in his conducts and behaviors. We heard about prisoners who committed suicide after leaving the prison. Let us say that those people have an anticipated ability for suicide, but prison is the main factor that develops a person into such a critical case, which originally, might not be definite in the development of a personality. Disregarding the special cases, we will draw some examples from reality, because we believe that proceeding and researching in such a subject and an environment for freedom will give us results that deserve to be contemplated and studied thoroughly.
Hala(24) Has fear of red color and fear of rape after she was attacked by an attempt of rape. Once, she tried suicide. She has fear of execution. A psychological shock deprived her of ability to talk.
Abu Zakaria(25) He has a Ph.D. in Geology, scientifically
brilliant, one of the prisoners had torn out his eye, but he still believes
that his eye will recover. He was in
S(26) A rural person who suffers schizophrenia. He believes that all people deal with him badly, sometimes, he becomes very aggressive. The medicine stopped the deterioration of his state in the prison. Now, he has been released, but I do not know anything about his position after he left the prison.
I saw and heard of cases,
which had lost the complete personal and psychological balance, to the extent
that the directory of the prison was obliged to isolate them. Some of the badly
disturbed personalities were killed after torturing them in
If we want to indulge in the social and psychological effects, which do not destroy the personality and are able to be reformed or, at least, are able to accord with the society again, then the suffering cases will include very big numbers. Actually, most of those who left prison need a social and psychological rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the authority does not help in this field, on the contrary, by depriving the coming out prisoners of their civil rights, legally or actually without a sentence, the authority tightens and declines their chances in life, work and travel. Furthermore, the authority does not give the chance for international organizations to follow the positions of those prisoners and help them.
In spite of the natural selection during many years, which let alive only those of strong bodies and mentalities, prisoners often need a special health and psychological care. In fact, the list of social and psychological distortions includes sickness delusion, depression, introversion, and the incorporation with the dominant, besides, the successive nightmares, aggressiveness, egoism, reveries and others.
The separation from children and their growth in the absence of one parent, sometimes both, create bitter suffering for the parents and the children. One hero, a prisoner, of "The Cocoon" says about her daughter: "I did not need to see my daughter's sad face, her tearful blaming eyes, words were read behind words, why she fled away from me and left me alone?... I talked to her a lot, was she convinced or not? I do not know. She did not answer or display a single move, or a word, she punished me with her carelessness and left"(27).
The absence from the family is so bitter. Hibah Dabbag says in her autobiography: "the anguish of departing my family was my first agony.. my image and body were separated from them by the power of a mighty. This temporary time and the undesired parting were followed by a compulsory vanquishing absence, which threw me into the depth of darkness and the dungeon of prison. Therefore, many were torn out because of their miserable life and were transferred into the mercy of the gracious most merciful God.. the rest were scattered along the wide world and estrangement.. The image turbid.. life darkened.. Roses of hope wilted before sprouting.. And I am at the gloominess of prisons, a hostage, because of my brother, who is a political activist"(28).
Concerning the sexual sufferings of the prisoners, In Albert Camus' novel "The Stranger", after a couple of days of arrest, the hero feels hard pressure for sexual need and asks the jailer about that. The jailer tells him that he himself, as well as, all the others feel the same. The discussion of this prohibited subject is still critical; due to fear from society, it is not easy to deal with it clearly and directly. In fact, however the mechanism of its affects is complicated, the presence of sexual feeling is very strong and its influences on the personality cannot be ignored. "When the sexual energy fails to find a way to discharge, whether directly or escalatory, it find its outlet through depression, worry and neurosis illness"(29).
The sufferings of the political and judicial prisoners cannot be ignored(30). Although it is prevailed that the political dΕtentes endure the problem's intensity because of their, relatively, higher consciousness and education, but the problem is not only the intensity of suffering, it relates to its forms of influences and the results.
We would like to clarify
that the prison urges the prisoner to practice conduct, which does not
necessarily express his anticipated preparedness. In
The Repercussions of Prison upon the Family & Society:
Prisoners are not the only ones who pay the price. Again, this regime, like all the other totalitarian systems, violates the rule that relates to the solitary punishment. The detention of any member of the family exposes the whole family to suspicions. Usually, the authorities defend this attitude because the traditional society increases the chances of family influences. This logic is, relatively true, but cannot be generalized. Whatever the authenticity of this logic is, it does not justify ignoring the rule of solitary punishment. This sort of treatment urged many families of the dΕtentes to immigrate, legally or illegally, before their names would be inquired within the lists of those who are prohibited of travel(31). Actually, nobody knows when any of the security agencies would decide to arrest a relative of the dΕtentes or the pursued ones. However, from time to time, the relatives of the dΕtente are called, threatened and asked to give information about their son and his friends and companions, even the children's innocence are exploited to get information.
The most harmful suffer of the dΕtentes' families is when they are taken as hostages. Wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and relatives of the demanded persons were hostages for long periods. This phenomenon started to decline after the year 1991. In some cases, the hostages might be a whole family. At prison, I met the father, the brother and the brother in law of one fugitive; they told me that the mother was arrested too.
During the inquiry, the arrested has to fill detailed data, which does not only include the names of father, mother, brothers and sisters, but maternal and paternal uncles, aunts with their husbands and wives too, also, friends and companions. The existence of such a form explains the relatives or the companions' shock when they are surprised by a prohibition of travel, employment, promotions or military enlistment. The collective punishment was one of the important forms to subjugate and tame the Syrian society, even those who belonged to the authority's Party and institutions did not escape from this sort of punishment. The collective punishments and the other arbitrary forms succeeded to change the structure of the Syrian society fundamentally, which was formerly known by its wide attention to political work and public affairs.
In addition to the former mentioned suffering, the families of the arrested prisoners are exposed to direct and indirect blackmail by the security's bodies and agents. Thus, when these families are allowed to visit their sons at prison, they bear high costs to supply them with money, clothing, food, mattresses, blankets and bed-sheets, which are, restrictedly, afforded by the directories of the prisons. Social joint liabilities vouch for affording the needs of the poor prisoners and are cut off from their families.
The most harmed ones of the families' members are the wives of the prisoners. While the law gives the wife the right to divorce her absent husband, who remains away from her for more than two years, the wife, often, wont prefer this choice because of different reasons, such as:
1st- Having mutual
confidence with her husband of his fair case. Still, the continuous position of
long-term imprisonment affects the family so much. The duration of 10 to 15
years of imprisonment is a common position in
2nd- The wife might not choose divorce because of having children, which burden her with a heavy financial and psychological load.
The traditional structure
of the society, like relatives, often assists in protecting a woman and helping
her. Due to the illegal arrestments and imprisonment in
Old aged parents are victims too. Missing their young sons who were arrested in a sudden and terrifying way caused most of them severe illness or sudden shocks, and as a result, early deaths.
Children, for sure, are the ideal victims of the illegal detention. In addition to the financial needs due to the absence of their father, the children grow in an extorted atmosphere of cultivation as they depend on their mother's existence alone. This position urges abnormal relationships between the mother and her children, which is clarified through children's denial of their father. Actually, in spite of the mother's efforts to remind the children of their father, they might not welcome their father's return. After imprisonment, a child might treat his father, harshly, because he is not used to his presence at home. A child might consider the former position of his father is the reason for his disappointments among his friends, like when he is questioned about his father's work and his gifts and other privileges. Thus, the children grow with deepened feelings of lack of financial and morale care, which the other children do not lack. Therefore, the father, the prisoner-victim, becomes "unfair" as well.
Lately, many people complain about the increasing phenomenon of individuality and the retreat of the joint liabilities, which usually were a characteristic value of the traditional society, who used to consider the lack of the joint help in the western societies as a negative point. Also, the non-political religious manifestation and the religious pretension increased, because it provides a human with comfort and tranquility beside the good reputation. All this was accompanied by the phenomena of corruption, social depravity, moral putrefaction and others.
Even though the religious phenomenon is the result of a cultural, social and economical environment, it also relates to repression and prison. The regime alludes to the individuals that they could do anything they want but away from politics. This made the society withdraw from the political and cultural organizations and pay attention to earn living through the difficult economical conditions. Unfortunately, the individuals try to earn their living by all means, disregarding the moral and legal considerations. Except the case of the political oppositions, all illegal violations could be solved by bribery or mediately, in the utmost cases, by spending a couple of months at prison.
The paradox is that those who commit big economical violations pity the political prisoners because of their much-complicated position. There is one known joke, which is narrated about the political prisoners. It says that once, a prisoner was brought to a prison's dormitory of one security branch. He asked all the prisoners about their accusations and discovered that each one of them belonged to such a Party or an organization. Thus, he hurried to hit the door of the dormitory and called the jailer saying: "Please, I am a homosexual, do not put me with those politicians!"
When I left the prison, I
noticed that my relatives avoided mentioning my imprisonment. They told their
children that I was travelling away. When I contacted by telephone an old
friend from the prison, who has a conservative inclination, to review our
memories together because I do not need to hide anything from him, he started
to change the subject, mentioning that we were together in
Another friend of mine,
during university times, asked about me, thus, he was told that I was in
We can understand why the authorities conceal the subject of prison and prisoners, but why common people attempt this deliberate concealment too?
1st- Due to the suffering, which had been lived through or heard of, the factor of fear has been strengthened in the collective conscience of people. This explains the retreat of most people from demanding democracy and freedoms, which are led by intellectuals in general. After the death of the president, those intellectuals perceived that a small margin of democracy is opened, but soon this margin was tightened again.
2nd- There is a difficulty in separating between the prison as a place for criminals like killers, thieves and others, and the political prison, especially, for young generations. Due to the democratic education and human rights rules, children learn that a prisoner is a criminal who is pursued by fair justice, the policemen. In fact, the children are, only, taught the anthem of the leading Party, its slogans and the glorification of the eternal leader. So, when my relatives and others introduce me to their children, how can they explain my attitude?(32).
3rd- The psychological desire to forget the bitter subject and fold it into the unconsciousness. This facilitates the success of the regime to isolate the opposition from other people because of the severe repression and its tragic social and psychological results; and because of the compulsory years of absence from various opposing directions.
In spite of all what I have mentioned about the negative effects of the prison upon society, I cannot forget the wonderful and natural human sympathy, which I received from various social circles. They were of different contradicting religions, sects and ideological belongings, but all of them supported the political prisoners' matter because they were the victims of injustice, who said a lawful word to the tyrannical ruler. This word is the starting point, which all those who are interested in democracy and justice have to start from, in order to form the human rights' education. Human rights and democracy might be connected to each person, differently, according to his believes and Ideologies. But the rights could be generalized to become an independent necessary education and are required for developing our society into an upgraded human, democratic and political one.
There is another important political starting point that could be noticed through the left or the right political speech, which includes the matter of the democratic freedoms and human rights as one of the primacies.
Finally, there is another
starting point, which might turn to be the most important one, and it means an
actual conversion of reality. It is about the authority's commencement of
acceptance to deal with the international organizations of human rights. Besides, issuing orders for declining the arbitrary detention,
lessening the torture, releasing most of the prisoners and liberating the
activities of the Human rights' association in
The Security Bodies of Detention and Imprisonment:
Abu Haian Al Tawhidi said: "Who transcends above the lesser, is a diminutive to his superior".
The series of the superior and the diminutive that ends by the prisoners is full of social and psychological deformations according to its grades, ranks, benefits and jurisdictions which allow its relation with the arrested and prisoners.
The participation in
torturing, watching or assisting in the collective massacre has side effects,
which could not be covered or prevented by any cultural or political charge,
because it touches the essence of the relation between a human to a human. One
of the most prominent examples that are dealt among prisoners is about one
The control of information
within the country does not allow to proceed and investigate
the expected effects upon the bodies of repression. It has been said that one
of the military policemen cadres, in
"A cadre, who seemed to be a soldier at the military service, came next to me to check my identity card, after seeing my name, he looked at me and his eyes became full of tears. Agitated and crying, he said: "you are from my town, God help us", I asked him: "why? Is there anything?", he said: "God give us patience, what we can do? God help you". As if I was tumbling down a dark well, I asked him: "Why? Did they come for me?", he said, turning his face away: "Yes". He left and gave my identity card to the head of the soldiers, who was calling: " Waheeba Al Dabag"(33).
Any slackening to execute the punishment might cause a harder punishment; simply, a jailer might turn into a prisoner. In addition to the contradiction that a jailer goes through between what he had been charged of and the reality that he discovers, beside his own social and moral values, the jailer endures another economical paradox. Actually, the salary, compensations, promotions and privileges of the bodies of security are much less than the military police cadres' earnings. The wages do not often fulfill the living needs, especially in the capital, where the numbers of security's bodies are intensified. Therefore, in spite of the danger to be discovered, the jailer considers it easy to steal the prisoners or render them services in return for money.
From time to time, we hear about a scandal in a prison or a security branch, this could be repeated and duplicated to the extent that it influences the security's directions and disturbs the discipline. This is natural because the legal-organizational positions of detention, imprisonment and the treatment of prisoners are absent. In addition, these bodies are not subjugated to open supervision and the press is prohibited to deal with such a subject. In fact, the official press could deal with the subject of directors, ministers, and probably alludes to the Prime Minister, but can not deal with one single "body of security", leaving aside the officers and the heads of the branches. Thus, the sacredness of these securities created a phenomenon that even the local press wrote about without perceiving its deep meaning. From time to time, we hear about a crime here or a theft there, in which the criminal or the thief claims that he is a security cadre in order to execute his crime. Actually, the grade of fear from the bodies of security does not permit the people to even ask about the identity card of this person. This, of course, affects the reputation of the security's bodies, which is, originally, not a proper one.
The daily torture, the
complete liberty for the inquisitor and the death of the dΕtente are considered normal positions. One of the bitter
paradoxes was that an investigator was punished by solitary imprisonment for 48
hours because he "killed a man under torture", probably, because the
bodies of security wanted to have more information before the man was killed.
It is, also, a normal position to order the jailer to kill a prisoner, like
what used to happen in
The worse possible effects
on the jailer or the inquisitor happen when they deal with female prisoners.
Here, there is a wide chance for extorting the human personality, which feels
its deficiency, diminution and immaturity in front of women. Due to our
society's structure, this deficiency is not a rare position in
B - The Deprivation of Civil Rights:
The deprivation of civil
rights was not, sufficiently, approached by the human rights' demands and the
required constitutional adjustments. Now, the reports and statements of the
international and local organizations started to pay attention to the necessity
of rehabilitation for those who are deprived of their civil rights. Thus, I
will treat this subject according to what I have passed through and what I
heard from many other official sources like,
I believe that not only the dispossession of civil rights, which were issued by the State Security Court at the beginning of 1992, should be given a consideration, but also, the dispossession on the actual daily level.
The actual application of deprivation happen with those who were exposed to exceptional military courts, exceptional courts, or those who were arrested and released from prison without any tribunal, so that they become enlisted in the files of the security institutions. Thus, whenever they need to deal with official institutions, look for employment, decide to travel or need any other procedures, their past will always be present. Regardless of a verdict existence or not, the official institutions need the agreement of the security institutions.
Those who were exposed to
an exceptional court, in spite of its harshness, do not care for its verdict
because of its illegality, which could be canceled by the Minister of Defense.
On the other hand, the verdicts of the
The rules of
As long as a former prisoner is unable to get the certificate of "Non-convicted", most of his official transactions could not be achieved, even at working in the private sector. Thus, the participation in any tender or a contract needs this certificate.
Therefore, the authorities expand the effects of punishment till after the prisoner leaves the prison. The stamped identity card of the prisoner, which includes the phrase "dispossession of civil rights", will affect him everywhere. Thus, a released prisoner is obliged to submit explanations and clarifications to whomever he deals with. Consequently, while having a condition of increased unemployment and declined chances of work for the graduates and the scientifically qualified cadres, the former prisoners become exposed to an increased social and economical siege. Then, what can those, former prisoners, who are originally incapable of practicing private jobs, do?
In spite of the private sector's cautiousness to employ those who have political or opposition belongings, to avoid security or economical blackmail or pressures, this sector contained a part of those former prisoners, who desire to work and whose physical capacities enable them to work. Also, the traditional family type contained another part of released prisoners. Still, many of these former prisoners are living dependents on their families, who are, originally, poor.
One factor of the former
prisoners' suffering is that due to the long years at prison, they become older
and cannot do any type of work. In addition, many of them have deformations and
physical deficiencies or weak health. As a result of disengagement from life
developments at prison, even those who might have had a professional experience
they might have lost it. Furthermore, the age or health of the former prisoner
might not enable him for a professional rehabilitation. This position requires
the participation of the government to provide a source to earn living or to
compensate those former prisoners like, in
Finally, if the dispossession of voting and election is useless and unimportant at this period, it has a moral value, which should not be neglected. In fact, it makes the citizen perceive his citizenship rights, which means his liberty to vote or not, to elect or not. Actually, the people who have this right, theoretically, are, practically, unable to practice it.
We look forward to see when this right will have an actual value and, besides, we allow ourselves to be optimistic about the existence of a real democratic development, which will include our country. While waiting, I join my voice to the voice of the lawyer, Mr. Hasan Ameen Refa'ah. He says: "The International family members, who are included in the General Institution of the United Nations and the Regional, National, Governmental and Civil Independent Organizations have to form and define the compulsory power of the Human Rights' Declaration. Also, the organizations must provide the protection and the necessary power to execute the Declaration and oblige the governments, the independent institutions and the individuals, according to their responsibilities, to include its principles in all the international treaties, legislation and national constitutions. Besides, they must apply definite chastisements' procedures for whoever disobeys these principles"(34).
"For the first time, I look at people and they do not see me chained. Do they have pity for me? Or, are they gloating over my grief? I am walking; I am not inside a car. No need to peep through the blindfolds, the windows of the bus or from behind the bars of the food truck(35).. From one moment to another, I could hear the tone of that cadre or sergeant and see the image of his facial features.. I wish I would never see any of them... An incidental idea pleases me that they ride cars... I walk from one street to another and from one pavement to another watching peoples' faces and searching about an intimacy that I had been familiar with, or I believe that I had accustomed to.
One friend said to me: "People do not deny you due to lack of fidelity, but because of their fatigue, our country is all fatigued."(36).
1) W. Reich, "Listen small man, A Speech about Freedom to the Street Man", translated by Ausamah Hamed, published by Dar Iben Rushd, p. 74.
2) Dr. Salem Hameesh, meetings "With Them Wherever They Are", Al Farabi publishing house, 2nd edition, 1988, p. 104.
3) Hadi Al Alawi, "Chapters from the Political Islamic History", p. 348.
4) Abd Al Rahman Al
Kawakebi, "The Dispositions of Despotism", The Arabic East publishing
5) Previous source.
6) Zakaria Tamer, "Tigers at the Tenth Day".
7) Previous source.
8) Many lawyers died under torture like, Mohammed Abed Al Aziz Ka'kah, Zakaria Abd Al Jabbar, Ahmed Abdu and Sa'eed Nino.
9) The Committees for the
Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights are resuming their work. The
members were detained in 1992 and were exposed to different sentences by the
10) Hadi Al Alawi, previuos source, p. 128 - 129.
11) Hytham Manna, "A Short Universal Encyclopedia of Human Rights", Dar Al Ahali for publication and distribution, Damascus 2000, p. 205 - 206.
12) For example, Dr.
Engineer Karameh spent 11 eleven years in a solitary cell, who was detained
after the dissolution of the associations of professions. Also, Riad Al Turk
spent 18 years in a solitary cell, who was detained in March 1980. Both spent
these periods in the branch of military inquisition in
13) One of the most
prominent cases is Mr. Naseeb Raia, who was convicted by the
14) The International
Convention that related to civil and political rights, which
15) Article No. 5: "It is prohibited to expose any man to torture, punishment, hard treatment, cruelty or humiliation.
16) Syrian Law of Sanctions, Article 391: "Anyone who hurts someone, hardly, in an unaccepted way by law in order to get a confession of a crime or related information will be sentenced from three months to three years of prison. If the violence causes illness or injuries, the minimal sanctions are one year of prison".
17) Hytham Manna, previous source, p. 206.
18) Published in October 1987 about the torture in the Syrian prisons.
19) The Law of the Legislative decree No. 549, dated 25.05.1969, includes in the Article No. 74 the following:
"It is prohibited to pursue, judicially, any employee from the State Security Department, whether deputed, imparted or directly contracted, because of crimes that result from the job or during it, before he is remitted to the discipline council of the department and issuing a pursuing order from the director".
20) Haythm Manna, Previous source, p. 206.
21) Previous source, p. 206.
22) The Article No. 18 of the International Declaration of Human Rights guarantees this right. Article No. 12 of the same Declaration includes: "It is prohibited to expose any man to arbitrary interference in his private life, family affairs, his residence, correspondence or reputation. Every person has the right to law protection from any interference".
23) Haseebah Abed Al
Rahman, "The Cocoon", unpublished novel. The writer is a political
prisoner from the Communist Labor Party, she spent 4 four years in women's
prison. After she was released, she participated for a period of time with the
activities of the human rights and democratic freedoms' commissions in
24) Hibah Dabbag, "Just Five Moments", reported from an autobiography of a Syrian female prisoner, who was taken as a hostage in return for her fleeing brother that was accused of belonging to Muslim Brotherhood. She was detained for 9 nine years, 1980 - 1989. Published by the Syrian Committee for Human Rights, p. 28 - 29.
25) I witnessed.
26) I witnessed.
27) "The Cocoon", previous source, p. 223.
28) Hibah Dabbag, previous source, p. 2.
29) Faisal Abbas, "the Personality in Psychology", reported from the book: "Pavlov and Freud", p. 59.
30) When I was in the cell, one of the jailers saw a prisoner masturbating, thus, the jailer obliged him to have an intercourse by the gutter.
31) The last annual report
of the Committees for the Defense of Human Rights in
32) One of the important points that the annual report mentioned was demanding the education of human rights to be enlisted in the curriculums of schools.
33) Hibah Dabbag, previous source.
34) From a lecture prepared
by Lawyer Hassan Ameen Rifa'ah, presented at the Human Rights Forum in
35) The prisoners call it so because of its similarity to their position,.
36) From the autobiography of one prisoner, who was released, lately.
The Syrian Policy of Communication
(Information - Culture - Education)
Hussein Al Oudat(*)
The Right for Communication and the Freedom of Expression:
In this age, it became obvious that each individual has the right to communicate and converse with other people to obtain information.
Also, each individual has the right to exchange opinions, acquire education and participate to develop it through creativity and exhibiting his experience by using the cultural and information systems. McBride committee, formed by UNESCO, confirmed the right of communication for each individual in the world. The committee acknowledged "each individual's right to discuss, participate, meet, establish associations, acquire information and report them, plus the right of information, education and choice".
reality, practicing these rights demands obtaining the means of communication
(mass media, education and cultivation) to use them for expressing opinions and
benefiting them for discussions and dialogues. Unfortunately, such rights
are not seriously recognized in
This announcement replaced the press law, which since 1963 became frozen and almost canceled. In spite of the newspapers' references and the official declarations about the outlet of a new press law, no practical steps were taken until now(*).
Accordingly, the Syrian citizen and the civil societies have no right to establish any newspaper or magazine, or any readable, audio or visual information media. Consequently, the citizen has no base to practice his right to communicate or express his opinion except through the official means of information like, the government's newspapers and information media or the semi official newspapers of the masses' associations and unions. In fact, all these means do not permit any opposing opinion because they are all related to one scheme that expresses the one attitude of the state, officially, which is practically, the government's attitude.
The Syrian constitution guaranteed the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Article No. 38 of the constitution included that "each citizen has the right to express his opinion, freely and openly, in writing, speech and all means of expressions". Also, the citizen has to "participate in supervising, criticizing and developing his country, in which the government guarantees the freedom of press, publication and distribution according to law". Therefore, the constitution guarantees the right, but its practical applications do not regard or respect this legal text. Practically, individuals, parties and political trends were deprived of this right. The state monopolized this right for the co-political system and its supporters, precisely, the co-government and its supporters.
In this way, the successive governments dominated the information media and education, restricted them to their policies and applied them for their service. Moreover, the governments used these means to become their own voice that explains their achievements, praises their activities and masks their errors. Also, the governments cancelled supervision upon the administration of the state, besides canceling the other opinion and the minimum freedom of expression. Furthermore, official institutions and bureaucracy dominated the information media, which rarely paid attention to peoples' needs and interests, and always ignored the role of civil society organizations. Thus, creativity retreated and fear dominated the journalists and writers, especially those who were employed at the official information media and the prohibitions increased. One of the paradoxes is that the constitution of the ruling Ba'ath Party, approved in 1947, recognized that "the freedom of speech, meetings, belief and art is sacred, and no authority could abase it".
The Syrian citizen was deprived from discussing the matters of his life, defining the features of his future, practicing the effective free dialogue, assisting to adopt the best choices, carrying the responsibility of his present and future, and choosing the way of his living. As a result, the consciousness deteriorated, education became shallow and the individuals were transformed into receivers without initiatives or creativity, and yield to actual conditions.
The position of the policies of communication (Information, culture, education):
The Arabic Committee for Studying the Matters of Information and Communication defined in its report, page 66, the policies of communication as the "Group of principles, rules, directions, conscious practices and prevailed conducts that the system of communication is based upon". These policies aim for "fulfilling the actual communicational needs of people through the ideal use of the available capacities and human and natural resources in the society, like art, communication and information". (P. 43)
The policy of communication concerns the whole society and not a certain class only. It is supposed to care for the interests of all social groups and political trends, as well as, the cultural, ethnic and religious groups that exist in the country, and deals with the various concepts, values and goals of these groups. The most important provisions of this policy are its comprehensiveness and diversity, which necessarily requires the participation of all these groups. However, the policy of communication should not be produced by one group or rendered to serve one group.
The paradox is that the Syrian government, which owns all information media and most of communication means, has no written policy of communication. If any existed, then it might be directions, routine work traditions, ministerial or administrative statements, or oral orders, and all are reactions to the emerging events and relay on individual initiatives of prominent politicians, informational cadres of authority or the supervisors of mass media. Most of these polices are for the sake of ordering and prohibiting, no real policy exists, if any existed, it would be oral and temporary. Thus, the cultural and information speech was transformed into a speech from a sender to a receiver, without any dialectical relation in between. The speech remained partial and concentrated on two matters, first, the publicity for the government and its achievements, second, the enlargement of entertaining programs, which were cost-less and superficial.
Accordingly, the Syrian policy of communication was neglected or, almost, ignored the matters of development with their comprehensive concept like, the economical, social, cultural, educational and others. Due to the lack of various groups' participation, the policy, in fact, had no balance. The practices of the informational cadres were characterized by fear, lack of initiatives and lack of serious researches that fulfil the society needs.
The obstacles to achieve the democracy of communication "oblige us to re-concentrate on the different freedoms of information, expression, thoughts and belief" because, as Mac-pride committee said (p. 14), "the imposed restrictions on these freedoms stiffen the development and progress toward a democratic communication systems". It is obvious that any non-Democratic system has harmful effects on communication, because there is a logical connection between the democracy of communication and the whole democracy of society. Thus, once we decide to study the actual position of communication we should always remember this connection to the Syrian policy. The actual position emerges from the prevailing ideology that is connected to the production of social-economical context.
The Actual Position of
Means of Communication in
1) There is no
informational or cultural industry in
2) There are three daily
newspapers, which are all published in
3) Specialized periodicals or half-periodical are published by masses' associations and organizations.
4) The government owns the Radio stations and TV local channels including the space channels.
5) At the beginning of year 2001, after President Bashar Assad resumed his responsibilities, the government permitted the publishing of one private weekly newspaper called: Al Dawmari.
6) At the beginning of year 2001, the government permitted the participating Parties of the Progressive National Front to issue their newspapers, distribute and sell them openly.
7) The import of Movies is still restricted to the government through the Institution of Film. Private movie theaters could not import films directly, except what comes through the Institution of Film. Private film production is permitted after inspection, as we will mention later.
8) Theaters' exhibitions and productions are divided between the public and private sectors after inspecting the theatrical texts.
9) The Institution of Distributing Publications, owned by the government, is the only distributor of local and imported newspapers and periodicals.
10) Private sector is permitted to own printing houses, but prohibited to publish any article, regardless of its size or subject, without censorship by an anticipated written agreement.
11) Private sector is prohibited from establishing centers for studies and researches.
12) Internet subscription was permitted in year 2000 and 2001, as well as, mobile phones.
13) On thousand Syrian
citizens read, daily, less than 10 newspapers and five books, and the own 300
radio sets and 250 TV sets. The Syrian individual consumes about 3 kilograms of
paper for writing per year. Although the estimated numbers are not precise,
they still refer to the cultural and educational miserable condition in
Censorship & Supervision:
Anticipated and successive supervision, sometimes, are practiced on any information or cultural activity, whether readable, written, or audible. Also, school books, lectures, meetings and all what is related to contact and communication are controlled according to the following mechanism:
1) Daily newspapers are subjugated to self-supervision, which means the journalist's self-control, and to the supervision of Press Institution. As all the newspapers are related to government, thus, their editors and supervisors do the function of controlling.
The other permitted non-Syrian newspapers and magazines are inspected by the department of supervision in the Ministry of Information, which has the right to permit or reject them. These newspapers were distributed in the evening time instead of early morning because they needed time to be inspected. This method was changed after the middle of the year 2000, and newspapers became distributed a little bit earlier.
2) Weekly newspapers and periodicals that related to the Parties of the Progressive front are self-inspected by specialist supervisors of the Parties. The newspapers of masses' organizations and associations are all self-inspected by their own directories.
3) Movies and TV serials:
- A specified directory in the Ministry of Culture controls the imported movies.
- A specialized directory in the General Institution of Radio and TV controls imported TV series.
- Local films and serials' productions pass twice to censorship, first, to control texts, second, to control the terminated production before presentation. The proposed TV serials are censored by the General Institution of Radio and TV, and Films by the Ministry of Culture.
- The Ministry of Culture controls the theatrical performances twice, once to inspect the texts and the other is before its performance.
Many institutions inspect the prepared manuscripts before publication as follow:
A - The issued books for
The manuscript is presented to the Ministry of Information- department of supervision to obtain its approval; then, this department transfers the manuscript to one of the following directions:
1) If the manuscript is related to creativity, like Poetry, Stories, Novels, Literary studies and others, it will be sent to the Union of Writers, which formed supervising committees, called "the readers", as a preliminary step toward permission or prohibition.
2) If the manuscript is related to a political, religious or philosophical subjects or intellectual in general, then it will be sent to the Regional Leadership - the office of preparation to decide whether to agree or forbid it.
3) If the manuscript is of a military scheme, then it will be sent to the Department of Morale Directing at the Ministry of Defense.
4) Sacred books and some religious books are sent to the Ministry of Religious Endowments.
5) The department of supervision in the Ministry of Information controls the other subjects.
6) Schoolbooks are all
In all the former cases, after approval, the manuscript is returned to its owner for publication. After printing the manuscript, the owner has to return it again to the department of supervision in the Ministry of Information to obtain another approval for distribution. These procedures to obtain the approvals for a manuscript might take months.
All the practiced measures of supervision are relative. The measures are not written nor detailed, and vary from each other. Thus, the relativity of approval or rejection differs from one institution to another, and sometimes, differs from one supervisor to another within the same department. In fact, the Syrian supervision yield to various measures, values and general expressions, such as, preserving the general morals, the nations' values, the national security or the benefit of masses and others. All the measures are undefined and general, therefore, they are able to differ and contradict according to the specific understanding of the supervisor. Due to these variations of control, it happens that a manuscript might be accepted after it was rejected months before with a different title. This is justified because of different supervisors' measurements.
B - Imported book are often supervised only by the department of supervision in the Ministry of Information with some exceptions, which are related to political and religious books that demand the permission of the Regional Leadership to enter the country.
The Policies of Education:
Article No. 37 of the Syrian constitution indicates that "education is a guaranteed right by the government. Primary school is compulsory and all stages are free of charges". According to this constitutional text, law No. 35 of year 1981 indicated that "all the parents of Syrian children, male and female, between the ages of 6 - 12 years are obliged to send their children to primary schools". Moreover, in case the parents would not let their children attend schools, the law specified fines and penalties.
The policy of education committed to constitution and this law, and gave the right of free education, including university and high education studies, to all citizens regardless of their gender, religion and region. Also, this policy made important efforts to apply the compulsory education for children and penalize the parents who deny that.
As the percentage of private schools does not reach 2%, the government handles the whole educational system like, schools, equipment, teachers and others, and submits the books with net costs. Practically, private schools contain the students who are unaccepted at the elementary and secondary public schools, beside wealthy students at the primary schools. In all cases, schoolbooks are the same, with rare exceptions, and all schools are, completely, supervised by the Ministry of Education.
The way and methods of teaching depend upon instructing and, rarely, implicate dialogue and conversing. Thus, the methods are briefed as a sender (teacher or professor) and a recipient (pupil or student). Analysis, induction and deduction, which enable reaching the logical right thinking, are rarely applied. The student is only required to memorize without thinking. Therefore, the student is evaluated and examined through the contents of the schoolbooks. Even though, a student has correct opinions, he is prohibited to present anything that is not included in the schoolbooks. The universities and colleges, as well, do not require the student to inspect resources other than the schoolbooks program, if he researches in other resources and uses their topics, he will not be credited.
On the other hand, many obstacles prevent the application of new methods of education and the dynamism of collective work in the educational activities, whether inside classrooms or outside them, including universities. In all cases, discussions are not upgraded to the level of analyzing matters and presenting suppositions to solve them. Actually, the information of the schoolbooks are confirmed without enabling any chance for the student to discover or suggest resolutions.
We conclude that the new progress and development in the world (communication, information system and technology) did not affect to change the methods of teaching and its democracy. Also, the economical openness was not accompanied by a democratic one or by the plurality of opinions or the respect of dialogue and other opinion. Moreover, teaching methods did not change to train students for new costumes and transfer them from the receiving scheme to the initiative, discussion, induction and deduction schemes. So, the values of science, mind, freedom and democracy remained faced by the morals of legends, fables and supernatural thoughts. Furthermore, the co-operation between teacher and student to discuss matters was lost. Thus, the position of teacher's instructing and a students' yielding remained.
Accordingly, the knowledgeable mind of the generations vanished and creativity declined, instead, the measurable mind prevailed and the whole society transformed into recipients of philosophy, politics, discoveries, creations and industrial applications.
The Forums and Organizations of the Civil Society:
As we said before, it is obvious that each person has the right for contact, communication, dialogue, expression of opinion, obtaining information and spreading it, besides, learning about others' experiences and presenting his personal experience. These rights that are included in the Syrian constitution and International Treaties, which were considered as essential human needs, can be achieved through the establishment of cultural and educational organizations, social and cultural associations and political and non-political Parties of multiple aims. So, it is necessary to establish organizations of civil society, support them and give them the chance to accomplish their functions away from the domination and interference of the government.
The present regime in
After President Bashar Assad resumed his responsibilities, he expressed clearly his new policy in the speech of the constitutional oath. He said: "Before it is our right, democracy is our duty toward the others. Democratic thoughts are the foundation and the democratic practices are the construction. For sure, all of us know that whenever the foundation is weak, the construction becomes threatened to fall down with the first shake". The speech of the president, the diversions and the releases of hundreds of political prisoners and the contact with political groups from outside the Progressive Front encouraged the intellectuals to express their opinions. Thus, the intellectuals held meetings for dialogue in their homes and issued statements, which included their troubles and demands. They demanded the freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, the respect of political and cultural plurality, the termination of Martial Laws, the adjustment of the constitution to guarantee the possibility of alternating authority.
Hundreds of intellectuals from all directions participated in the forums' activities and used their residences to hold meetings of dialogues and discussions. These forums multiplied like fungus and spread in most Syrian cities, quickly.
Depriving the intellectuals of their right to express themselves and converse about the matters of their country for forty years made them suggest in their forums everything, the possible and the impossible, the essential and the secondary, as if releasing the suppression became their aim. Thus, in many cases, they lost the clear vision and methodology, especially that they were from different groups and directions. Consequently, the forums turned into useless talks, in which protesting and rejecting became their main goal.
On the other hand, many powers of the regime were scared, especially that they used to give orders, instruct and act alone during decades. They never believed in the freedoms of opinion and expression, nor plurality, and could not accept the principle of dialogue, so, how can these powers accept the opinions which discuss the legitimacy of their continuity? Therefore, these powers made all the efforts to enlarge the danger of forums on the regime and its continuity, and accused the intellectuals of contacting foreign powers. Accordingly, the authority prohibited the activities of the forums, except some of them. Thus, in spite of having all the basics for success, the forums' experiment failed. In fact, these forums could have established a dialogue with the political system. If they defined their actual goals and regarded dialogue as their primary demand to discuss with the system the conditions of Syrian society and its prospect, and if they looked for common divisors between the various political and cultural trends and the regime, they would have succeeded. Also, if the political system had the real intention for divergence, by applying the political and cultural plurality and accepting the other, the experiment might had a different conclusion.
Concerning the political
system, it seems that the closing and prohibition of forums is not the end.
Many private and public references and intentions are confirming the
president's desire to establish a form of contact and communication with the
political and cultural trends in
The Syrian society is in bad need for freedom of expression, opinion, dialogue, communication, establishment of cultural and information platforms. Also, information media and education are needed to be open for all the citizens and should be withdrawn from the government's control. The supervision on conscience and mind should be canceled. Besides, all types of civil society's organizations should participate in implementing the policies of information, culture, education and the democracy of communication. The benefits of all the groups of society should be regarded. Also, the information media should have its right of supervision and criticism.
Syrian citizens are working
and expecting all these rights and freedoms to be obtained because there is no
other choice for
(*) In 18.08.2001, the Council of Ministers issued the draft of a new press law, which included adjustments and renewal for some Articles in the law that were still effective since 1949. The Parliament must discuss and vote for the draft law before the President of the Republic issues it. According to Al Thawra newspaper, this draft law is related to organize the work of libraries, printing and publishing houses. (The editor).
The Syrian Economy:
The Reality and The Prospects
The Syrian economy has a distinguished balanced sector's structure, as well as an important economical, human and natural resources along with a significant geographical location which represents a tying knot among three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa.
The individual annual
At the end of year 1999,
the population of
No significant changes
occurred to the gender percentage, which was still
about 104 men for each 100 women. Although, the percentage of people who were
younger than 15 years old had lowered from 44.8% in 1994 to 40.5% in 1999, yet,
this percentage is still considered a high one in comparison to other
countries. Therefore, it could be said that
In spite of the annual
decrease of the population growth from 3.3% during 1981 - 1994 to 2.7% during
1994 - 1999, the average of growth remains high in comparison to other
countries' growth. However
Taking a look at the
available agricultural possibilities in
Despite its deterioration
in the last few years due to drought, the animal wealth still represents an
important resource for
In addition to the
reasonable agricultural capacity,
Tourism capacity is as
important as other available wealth resources in
However, these important natural resources were not properly invested, therefore, Syrian economy became weak and unappealing to the available capacities.
The estimations of ESCWA (Social- Economical Commission of West Asia) refer to the average growth of total local production in 1999 being the weakest in the surrounding area, the Syrian growth average resgestering an increase of less than 1%(5).
This reality of Syrian economy urges the following question: what caused the weakness of economical function despite the availability of all these important resources? To answer this question let's to take quick review of the development of the syrian economy in the last 40 years.
* * *
The Syrian economy witnessed various drops and rises due to diverse interior and exterior factors throughout the second half of the twentieth century.
In the period between 1966 and 1970, Syrian economy did not function satisfactorily. The annual agricultural growth average did not increase more than 1% in fixed prices(6).
- Many factors were behind this deterioration including the inappropriate climate, The delay of distribution of lands, regulated by the reformed agrarian law,the slow growth of Agricultural Co-operatives the decrease of agricultural loans percentage, the reduction of importation of agricultural vehicles, fertilizers and disinfectants and the decline of investment in the agricultural sector.
The Industrial sector was not in better shape. Due to the rise of production' costs and the decrease of products quality, the financial surplus of public industrial organizations dropped, leading in a decrease in the average of total industrial production, which ranged between 49% to 67%, during the second half of 60ies(7).
In spite of oil exportation increase, general exports suffered a continuous recession because of the agricultural products reduction and the perpetual impotency of payment scale since 1968. The progressive increase of general expenditure, which was mainly financed by banking institutions, caused the increase of currency mass that grew during 1966 to 1970 with an annual average of 13%(8).
To treat this recession, the Syrian government took various procedures toward economical openness. In 1971, some measures were processed to activate importation, such as, allowing the private sectors to import certain goods provided they can afford foreign credit facilities for at least 365 days and to pay in foreign currency from their own external accounts.
In a step to encourage the Syrians to retain back to their smuggled capitals, the government allowed them to import some raw materials and spare parts including some previously prohibited western goods with the conditions of financing importation from their own external accounts.
Beside the official Money
Market, a new Parallel Market was established in 1971. The Commercial Bank of
The General Organization of
Free Zone was established to urge export industries and captivate Arab capitals
and investments. Specific areas were reserved in Latakiah,
In spite of all the previous important measures, the results were not as expected due to several reasons, mainly the reluctancy of the private sector to assist with the economical growth because these measures were not taken through a comprehensive long-term strategy.
The Syrian economy developed noticeably in the seventies. A high average of growth was achieved with an annual average of 10%. (10) As the private sector withdrew from effective participation in economical growth, the government had to be completely responsible for raising up the national economy. Therefore, the public investment growth increased from 3.9 billion Syrian pounds in the second fifth plan (1966-1970) to 12.7 billion Syrian pounds in the third fifth plan (1971-1975), then to 50.5 billion Syrian pound in fourth fifth plan (1976-1980)(11).
The Investment program of the third and fourth plan, principally, aimed to have a quick industrial growth, an increase of irrigated lands and a development of the structures.
Official statistics point out that the total local production increased in fixed prices of 1985 from 27967 million Syrian pounds in 1970 to 72078 million Syrian pounds in 1980(12).
Moreover, the running energy power enlarged from 333 megawatt in 1970 to 1073 megawatt in 1980. On the other hand, highways length increased from 11687 kilometer in 1970 to 19819 kilometer in 1980. The new railway net widened from 1140 kilometer in 1970 to 2017 kilometer in 1980. As for drinking water in cities centers, its production increased from 135627 thousand cubic meters in 1970 to 301432 thousand cubic meters in 1980.
The number of primary schools increased from 5261 schools in 1970 to 7689 schools in 1980. Elementary and secondary schools increased from 813 schools in 1970 to 1330 schools in 1980(13).
The achieved growth during the 70ies was, principally due to the high performance of the construction and service sectors. Other productive sectors, industrial and agricultural, were inefficient during the second half of the 70ies because of different factors.
The main causes of slow growth in the agricultural sector were: the delay of projects achievement to increase the irrigated areas of the reformed agrarian law, the decrease of intensified crops, the weak services of agricultural orientation as well as the extreme interference of government with the vital affairs of agricultural sector, like specifying the type of crops and restricting the purchase of tools and supplements by the government only.
On the other hand, the weak efficiency of the industrial sector was due to the delay of achieving most projects, which was caused by:
One - The deficiencies of economical and technical studies.
Two - The loose commitments of foreign countries to achieve projects because of various gaps in contracts provisions.
Three - The weak supervision and persuasion of project achievement.
The former effects did not only delay project achievements and operation, but also caused technical problems of installations and execution for other industires which made it impossible to continue with its full productive power. This of course, assisted to the decline of industrial growth average.
In fact, the phenomenon of delay in the development project dominated most industrial sectors during the third fifth plan (1971-1975) and fourth fifth plan (1976-1980). The main reason for this phenomenon is the extravagant ambitions of both plans. The investments programs of both plans did not agree with the consumption capacities of Syrian economy investments.
Although the financial execution of the second plan (1966-1970) did not exceed 77%(14), the third plan (1971-1975) investments were raised three times compared to the second one. The fourth plan (1976-1980) raise of investments exceeded about four times the third one. The discordance among the ambitious investments programs and the limited capacity of investments of Syrian economy caused a severe deficiency in various industrial sectors which were supposed to supply the needs of growth projects of both latter plans.
Severe deficiencies covered different fields, which extended from manpower to raw materials. It affected negatively, the facilities of transport and cargo, port capacities to unload and store goods, infra structure installations such as roads, railway, telecommunications, water and electricity nets. Having huge and plenty of growth projects in both third and fourth plans, the specialized technical institutes of the government could not maintain an efficient role to review all the economical studies and the designed plans nor could it pursuit and supervise these projects.
In the absence of a balance between the investment programs of third and fourth plans and the consumption capacities of investments in Syrian economy, deficiencies did not only delay the achievements of growth projects for more than two years but it also caused a noticeable higher cost of projects. Actually, many useful projects turned to be diffusive and a heavy load on the national economy later on.
The discordance between the size of investment programs of third and fourth plans and the consumption capacity was connected with another imbalance between fast and forward projects outcome, and between the productive and the cervical projects. In fact, the adherence to develop the basic structure and to increase the irrigated areas for the growth of agricultural sector required specifying enormous projects of investment to afford land reclamation projects, roads, railways and electricity at the expense of other useful projects, which increased crops and improved industrial production.Evidently, reclaiming lands and planting it takes many years to start production. On the other hand,the projects of the infrastructure do not produce goods for sale and consumption to absorb the purchasing power, which retain the expenses of these projects.
The delay of achieving the industrial and agricultural productive projects and the concentration on long term productive projects at the expense of short-term projects increased the gap between offer and demand of goods in the local market. Importation did not help to close the gap because of severe lack of foreign currency, accordingly, smuggling increased with higher prices and black market enlarged.
The crisis of intensive supply assisted the Syrian bourgeois commerce to achieve manipulated profits at the expense of people restricted incomes. The increase of salaries and wages during the seventies did not accord with the actual high prices, thus the real income of most citizens decreased noticebly During the eighties, the default of Syrian economy expanded due to the ambitious unbalanced plans of growth. Whenever the lack of equilibrium in the internal and external balance increased, the crisis grew bigger.
The gap between cash flow and financial flow widened. One study refers to the years from 1980 till 1990 that the capital mass increased up to 5.5 times, where as the total local growth production did not reach 24% in the same period of fixed prices(15).
The deficiencies of the financial flow were due to the weakeness of the goods sectors. In fact, the inappropriate climate conditions and the continuous drought during the eighties led to the decline of the agricultural production, especially seed production that dropped noticeably in 1984. The industrial productivity also decreased during the 80ies. Actually, the insufficient local raw materials, the unavailable imported primary materials and spare parts due to the lack of foreign currency inflow led to lower the benefits of installed productive energies noticeably(16). Besides, the repeated electric cuts, the unskilled workers, the unqualified administration and leadership, all affected the mal function of the industrial sector. The gap between cash inflow and finance outflow caused prices to rise up to an annual average about 19,58% from 1980 to 1990(17).
The gap between cash inflow
and finance outflow was associated with the gap increase between available
resources and their use. The hidden inflation, which lost 90% of local currency
purchase power during the eighties(18), did
not help the growth of local resources. Moreover, the foreign sources of
governmental aids and loans decreased. However, aids from Arabic countries,
which were reserved for
Due to the increase of importation more than the capacity of exportation, the gap between imports and exports widened. This situation caused a high deficiency in the commercial scale, which decreased from 7915 million Syrian pounds in 1980 to 9947 million SP in 1988(19). The extravagant value of the Syrian pound affected negatively the competitive capacity of the Syrian exportation, especially, the available crops for export. Accordingly, foreign currency resources decreased, whereas, more pressure on payment occurred.
Considering all the previous defaults, it was not strange to register a negative national income growth during the eighties. The annual growth average of the national income reached 15.7% in current prices at the same time that the annual average of prices grew up to 19.58%. Thus, the national income of the year 1980 fixed prices declined to the average of 3,88% per year(20). Official statistics refer to the net production (after excluding productions costs) in fixed prices of 1995 that it had declined from 378.2 billion Syrian pounds in 1980 to 358.2 billion Syrian pounds in 1990(21).
To treat the critical position of economy, the Syrian government followed a gradual policy for restoration. Therefore, since the middle of the eighties certain procedures were taken to activate the Syrian economy. Many laws and decisions were formed to encourage the private investments in agriculture, industry and tourism:
1 - Allowing the establishment of assisting firms in the agricultural sector (bestial and botanical) with a public share of 25% of the invested capital.
2 - Enabling private sectors to produce some goods which production was monopolised by the government.
3 - Giving licenses to buy and sell foreign currencies in the current prices and allowing the private sector to obtain 75% of export income in foreign currency at private accounts to finance their importation of permitted goods, which are purchased directly from the exporters.
Although the private sectors assistance improved the total industry production from 22% in 1985 to 27% in 1990, yet, this partial treatment was insufficient to reform the whole position. Therefore, the continuous crisis urged the Syrian government to search for additional measures.
These were the conditions of Syrian economy during the eighties. In spite of several years of revival under the effect of expanding oil excavation and proper climate for better plantation, crisis phenomenon continued dominating the general atmosphere of economy. At the end of the eighties it became clear that facing the crisis could not be delayed anymore.
The Syrian government established various laws and decisions at the beginning of the nineties to activate the economy and urge the private sectors to increase their participation in the national growth. The new laws diminished the restrictions on commerce, principally by:
- Allowing the market power a greater role to decide prices.
- Increasing the prices of some goods.
- Decreasing support for some previous supported goods.
- Lessening the inspection over import and export trades.
- Permitting private sector to import materials, which were previously imported by public sector only.
- Actual decreasing of the Syrian pound value to cancel the differences of its value with foreign currency.
- Encouraging Arabic and foreign private investments.
- Allowing the private sector to invest in various industries, which were only permitted for public sector.
- Graduals canceling of the restrictions that were imposed on the industry.
- Facilitating licenses for the establishment of certain industrial projects.
- Improving electrical power conditions.
- Minimizing inspection on foreign currency.
- Permitting citizens to open accounts in foreign currency which could be transferred.
- Diminishing administrative restrictions and replacing it by promotions.
- Adjusting the tax of incomes to a lesser value.
One of the first economical
procedures was the law No.10 of 1991. The aim of this law was to encourage
investment through different facilities and grants, mainly, allowing the
importation of all needs of the projects, free of tax and exempted of all
charges. The private firms which the government assisted 25% with their capital
were exempted of tax on income for 7 years, the
independent firms were exempted from tax on income for five years from the
start of investment. The same percentage of tax exemption was applied for the firms properties (land and building constructions).
Moreover, the investors were allowed to open accounts in foreign currency at
the Commercial Bank of
Thus, the investors became able to transfer their net shares of the projects in foreign currencies for abroad after passing five years of investment. The Article 15 permitted an extra exemption of two more years for the projects which productions of goods and services exceeded 50% of the total production during the exempted period. Other than article 15, law NO. 10 did not achieve the full necessary combination between promotions and other economical schemes, such as, nationalizing the new techniques, developing the less growing regions and the percentage of the expected added values.
In addition to the
essential gaps of law No.10, the bad accomplishment of this law reflected
harmful results on the national economy. Wrongful interpretation of law No.10,
which included tourist cars, led to the permission of importing vehicles
exempted of taxes and customs. This permission wasted a large profit to enter
the Syrian treasury aside the flowing out of huge foreign currency capital
through the black market. Thus, instead of investing private capitals inside
On the other hand, the weak restraint to law No. 10 provisions, which concerned the selection of the projects, released licenses for industrial projects without selecting the priority of production, like (chewing gum, shampoo, chips, gas water, playing cards...ext.). The lack of reviewing and the rushed economical studies caused the installation of similar industrial projects, which offered higher production than the capacity of local market consumption. Moreover, the technical specifications of goods did not meet the International market standard, therefore, masses of produced stock urged investors to consider closing their factories. If we add to all the previous troubles the complicated administrative procedures to get the necessary agreements for a license of investment, we understand the reasons for law No.10 failure to reach its expectations. Thus, the private sector investments declined with an average of 10% in 1994 -1996 and the average of 30% during 1997-1998.(23)
Without doubt, the Syrian economy flourished after the economical procedures of Syrian government at the end of the eighties. This could be seen through the higher percentage of the total local production, which reached about 8.2% during 1991-1994 of 1985 fixed prices(24). The total capital of the private sector increased from 6751 million Syrian pounds in 1985 to 11002 million Syrian pounds in 1995 according to fixed prices of 1985(25). The industrial production of the private sectors increased from 39813 million Syrian pounds in 1990 to 79769 million Syrian pounds in 1994(26). This flourish did not last long , due to the raise of economical problems, such as the industrial firms who suffered from accelerating their products because of export decline. Official statistics show that the total export decreased from 47282 million Syrian pounds in 1990 to 44562 million Syrian pounds in 1995(27). The percentage of the private sectors export of the Syrian total exportation, except oil, decreased from 68.5% in 1990 to 48.4% in 1995(28).
The enlarged stock problem,
occurred in the public sectors production.The stock of the General Organization
of Textile exceeded 8 milliard Syrian pounds(29). The decrease of importation associated with the diminished
cash flow in the local market due to the unbalanced distribution of incomes, as
well as the decline of purchase power because of the prices rise rate more than
the augment rate of incomes, plus the decline of the governmental support. The
Ministry of Social Affairs and Work prepared a study that was presented at the
Specialists meeting in
Unfortunately, instead of activating the economy through broadening the interior market and adjusting wages, annulling obstacles which complicate import, reviewing tax rythm, reforming public sector, re-qualifying banks and increasing finance of general growth, the Syrian government schemed a shrank policy. The government was stressed with hallucination of declining the general budget deficiency percentage and preserving the settle of the Syrian pound value. If the Syrian government managed to decline the deficiency to less than 1% in 1997, according to the Ministry of Finance' statistics(31), it also succeeded to dominate and block the economical growth. The average of total local production growth in 1996 declined to (1/3) one third from the previous past two years average of growth and to 5% negative growth in 1997 than the year 1996(32).
It is clear again that at the end of the nineties, the economical procedures did not activate economy or restore it to reach the aimed expectations. Therefore, Syrian Economy needed more efficient steps.
In a new attempt to treat the economical crisis, the Syrian government formed various legislations during the year 2000. Accordingly, law No.10 of the year 1991 was adjusted, as well as the Legislative decree No. 24 of 1986, which concerned the deal with foreign currency, the law of the economical sanction and the specialization of the national securities courts. The government permitted the importation of tourist cars and allowed the establishment of private banks in the free zones. These facilities responded to the demands of most Syrian businessmen but the new adjustments were totally disappointing. In fact, the adjusted articles of the legislative decree No.24 did not terminate the fears of businessmen. Besides, the added adjustments to the economical lawof sanctions did not taccle fundamental matters. The decision of tourist cars import permission was not clear enough, thus it was so much limited and complicated to operate.
Even though legislative decree No.7 included important additions which were unmentioned in law No.10 of year 1991, beside additional promotions to encourage investment, the permission for foreigners and the possibility to obtain unlimited properties may lead to a dangerous and unsafe future. Four Lebanese banks obtained licenses to open branches at the Syrian Free Zone, but the probability of their extension seemed weak because the number of investors at the free zone was limited to 350 investors.
The head of Regional Economy Office declared, lately that the Regional Commission of Al Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party agreed to establish a Money Market and private banks which are formed of private assistance or joint companies. However, the Commission of Constitutional and Legislative Affairs and the Commission of Financial Laws in the Public Council did not suggest nor study such an agreement. The establishment of private banks and Money market lead to dangerous possibilities because of Syrian banks retarded conditions that are unable to compete with private banking. In spite of the governmental statements and declarations over many years to rehabilitate the Commercial Syrian Bank, no noticeable improvement occurred till now. If we add the real conditions of the Syrian Central Bank, which stopped inspecting other banks and the lack of qualified specialists, we understand the danger of establishing private banks.
It is obvious that establishing private banks without the Syrian Central Bank efficient supervision would deteriorate the settlement of Syrian economy. Usually, banks support inflow to national economy veins, which represents one important aspect of its nerve system content, and reflects a negative or positive functions towards the total economy. However, the establishment of new private banks would have been useful, but after renovating, maintaining and supporting the public Syrian Banks.
As for the establishment of
a Money Market, the objective conditions and necessary demands to achieve it
are not available yet. Most companies in
The main objective conditions for a successful money market are unavailable, such as the administrative and organizational factors, the specialist technical cadres, the scientific and technological structure, and the legal foundation.
As much as the establishment of private banks and money market was partial and ahead of time, the treatment of industrial reformation of public sectors was awkward and lumbering without serious determination. Again, there was lots of talk about the industrial retoration of public sectors and less work to maintain it. A rescue idea might rise, from time to time, but soon would uncover its deficiency to restore the public sector. We have to confess that 'restoration' is a very complicated matter considering all the social, political and economical effects. For example, the dismissing of extra employees would lead into a severe social crisis since the economical positions were not ready and not expanded enough to absorb the extra-dismissed employees.
In fact, there are hidden crises around benefits, which contradict the restoration of the economical public sector. Those who make profits from the economical public sector are against restoration. They defend the present conditions which gaps and weaknesses enable them to have more benefits. On the other hand, different opinions demand the transfer of public sector's firms into private ones to decline the load from the national economy. These opinions reflect the desire of certain sectors, which were able to enlarge their capital by legal and illegal ways. These opinions respond positively to the European theories and ignore that the economical over flow of the industrial public sector is completely transferred to the Ministry of Finance in which the investment stopped since 80ies till 1994. Actually, the unsatisfactory function of some investments was due to various factors, which were analyzed by economists who believe that the present private sector condition can not handle the responsibility of growth, thus, the public sector has an important strategic role among the economical multiplicity.
Although the troubles treatments of the industril public sector have been known for a long time, the hesitations to take serious procedures toward restoration overcome the situation. The danger of this attitude is clarified through the agreement of the European Mediterranean Association, which will form fateful challenges for the public and the private sectors of Syrian industry.
Five years went by since the negotiations with the European side started on. Till now, there are no complete prepared programs to rehabilitate and improve the competitive capacity of the Syrian industry yet. Naturally, preparing such a program needs a profound and detailed study of the existing industries, an analysis of the exact problems and the chances of resistance to face the international competition, as well as, to undestand the international market's position mainly, Arabs and Europeans, to decide the available chances and needs. The program should include bold decisions toward important matters, which are related to the suitable industrial specialization according to the international development of economy, beside the required support and within a limited period of time. It is clear that time is needed to achieve such a program, but the available remaining time is enough.
Even though, the certainty of Arabic countries economical accordance and integration would assure the Syrian attitude in the European- Mediterranean Association's agreement, the fulfillment of the Grand Free Zone of Arab Trade's agreement and its time schedule is impeded. In fact, the schedule is obstructed through the extending bureaucracy, the executive authorities delay and the numerous exceptions, which were presented to the Social-Economical Arab Council under the pressure of some industrialists. Most industries, which started under a broad and complete protection policy of government, are unable to continue through the open economical environment. Except a little number of industrialists who understood the danger of the free competition's challenge and started improving the specifications of their products, most others still insist to have a continuous protection in order to imply their manipulating prices on the expense of consumers.
Thus, after 15 years after the debut of restoration, the Syrian economy could not resolve the crisis, which prevented the use of the available human, natural and economical resources, properly. The Syrian economy is unprepared to face the challenges of the 21st Century. The most important first challenge is to correct the imbalance of national economy structure through filling the gaps between:
- Recourses and uses.
- Cash inflow and goods flow
- Export and import.
- Production and marketing.
- Wages and prices.
Without doubt, facing the challenges requires reviewing the tax, currency, and the financial and economical policies. The review could not be choosy, partial and superficial but based on a total future vision. Such achievements need implying a national program in which all the efforts and social power associate to fulfill the expectations with the effective role of the government to direct it.
The second challenge is the rehabilitation of the private and public industrial sectors to reassure their competitive capacity to face the danger of globalization. It is necessary to determine whether to join the International Trade Organization, or not. Dealing with the danger of the external trade's globalization requires an Arabic economical collaboration on the national level and the dual level as the Syrian-Lebanese accordance for the Grand Free Zone of Arabic Trade's Agreement. To face the challenge successfully, there should be a rehabilitation for the industrial sector within a strategy of the industrial growth, which reviews the fields of specialization, sets priorities, marks policies and techniques to enable the Syrian industry of obtaining competitive qualities.
Facing rehabilitation of the industrial sector challenge leads to another challenge, which is maintaining, setting and subjecting the modern technology. Obviously, there is no future for economy without an advanced technological base, or dynamism, which permits a continuous technology progress. Dealing with this challenge requires the preparation of national strategy of science and technology and to activate co-operation between scientific research centers and industrial organizations.
Administrative reformation presents another serious challenge, which faces the Syrian economy. There was an ill phenomenon that excreted from the imbalance type of growth and the awkward practices. Thus, the wrong practices such as, the neglect of work, the escape from responsibilities, routine domination, the overcoming of personal interest instead of public well-being, the spread of corruption and the decline of function level, all these made the industrial restoration impossible without an administrative reformation.
As the unbalanced growth led to the rise of sick phenomenon in the general administration, it also assisted the environmental pollution through the establishment of factories without considering the ecological elements. Actually, the fast expansion of industry without preserving the environmental demands came out with an ecological problem that was revealed through pollution, which resulted from the chemical materials, the dangerous poisoning wastes and the industrial accidents. As a matter of fact, the pollution affected desertification, sea-world's deterioration, ground water and drinking water's contamination, air pollution, health's professional danger, and noise. In addition to the industrial sources of pollution there were other sources which, clarified, through the poisoning gas of cars inside and outside cities, plus, the human waste. In spite of the insufficient procedures to preserve environment, it is a matter of urgency to activate a serious work of achievement.
The guided use of the available water resources and the necessity to find out other resources for the future need is another serious and important challenge. In fact, the water problem is a severe and urgent one. It would be impossible to resolve this problem if it is not treated right now through the National Water Strategy to develop a new water resource and guided uses.
When we talk about the negative reflections of the unbalanced growth since the middle of seventies, we need to review the incomes distribution. The unbalance of the industrial growth structure enabled few Syrians to make enormous capitals through different ways, such as, manipulation, speculation, brokerage or exploitation of the public job for personal interest. Actually, the inflation beside the unbalance between prices' increase and wages augment caused the diminishing of the real income. Consequently, most of the middle class people joined the low class people, whose living conditions deteriorated rapidly. Dealing with this challenge is not only a human necessity, but it is a base, which closely relates between the fair distribution of income on one side and the process of growth and the social settle on the other side.
The failure of the reforming steps to liberate the Syrian economy from crisis was excepted. However, the economical procedures, which were taken over different periods, did not correct completely the deformation of the Syrian economy's structure, but reproduced an imbalance and defects. Mainly, because these procedures did not have a clear vision of the Syrian economy prospects for the future. On the other hand, these procedures did not come out of a general program of growth to develop the Syrian economy within a certain time in which all goals, priorities, methods and techniques were clearly defined.
The economical procedures were, often, taken after the economical problems intensified, therefore, the treatment occurred fast and, improperly, studied with accordance to the danger of troubles and results. Therefore, the treatment reflected a reaction more than an actual action; this, of course, created other problems, which complicated the situations more and more.
Having no comprehensive program for restoration, the economical procedures, therefore, were selective and partial with contradictions, sometimes, and were rushing or delayed, most of the times, with no attention to the priorities of the economical inter-penetration. Actually, the treatments came superficial, took care of crisis' appearance rather than the essential causes, gave attention to the less urgent matters on the expense of the fundamental ones, had weak influence and ineffective, plus, lacked harmony within. In the absence of a clear vision of the desired future of the Syrian economy and the lack of a comprehensive program of economical restoration, the executive institutions had extended the freedom to take partial procedures calmly which served the benefits of limited persons under the password of "Restoration".
The lack of a future vision and a comprehensive program of restoration combine with the weak function of the High Economical Leadership in the government. The economical leadership was incapable of activating the executive economical institutions with concordance, besides, its hesitation to take decisions that concern all the important economical matters. Obviously, the high economical leadership's failure to practice its role effectively gave the opportunity for the individuals' personal conduct. Of course, the individuals' behavior impedes the government complete teamwork and does not assist to the co-operative coordination among the economical parts.
It is important to refer
that the differences of points of views between the Ministry of Finance and the
Ministry of Economy and external trade that concern the join of
The economical restoration process is a very complicated one with multiple sides and it needs a long time to be achieved. To reach a successful result, the process should start from a future vision of the Syrian economy and a comprehensive program, which covers all the economical sides. Meaning that, if the economical procedures of the Syrian government during the80ies were not fulfilled through banking, currency, financial and administrative reforming program, as well as, public sector's reformation, then, the possibility of developing a complete economical restoration to activate the Syrian economy is very scarce.
The restoration process will have negative effects in the near future upon citizens who will have to endure more efforts and pressure. Therefore, citizens' participation in the comprehensive program's decisions, attaining support and understanding would guarantee the success of the reformation process. Moreover, extending the citizens' participation through the civil society organizations and the non-governmental domestic societies associations would help activating the public inspection to achieve the reforming program and save it from decay.
In brief, the economical restoration process, as a national mission, requires for success an extended public base participation and support according to mutual understanding of goals and prospects, as well as, a social alliance among all parts on the base of a social-economical comprehensive program.
1) Central Office of Statistics, "Describing Syria with Information", second edition 2000.
2) Same source.
3) Report of FAO &
World Food program to restore nutrition and crops in
4) Dr. Adnan Mustafa,
5) ESCWA, a report of 1998-1999
6) Government Institution of Planning, local note, 1972
7) Same source.