By Javad Mansouri:
The recent wave of popular movements in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa is actually seeking to overthrow the despotic regimes that have ruled those nations for decades. These movements arose partly due to the strong will and vigorous determination of the people and partly due to the interference of foreign elements that are trying to settle their disputes with certain governments of the region.
Specifically, this is the case in Syria, where the role of the external stimuli is much greater than the role of the popular protests against the government. In other words, unlike other countries of the region, the popular nature of the uprising in Syria is overshadowed by external players that have been seeking to topple the Syrian government for a long time.
The situation in Syria is quite different than the situation in other countries of the region because the United States and Israel are directly interfering in the current crisis, but in other countries, the role of the people has been more important from the very beginning.
It seems that these external players are taking advantage of one major weakness in the Syrian government. The political structure of Syria and issues such as freedom, legal rights, and the standard of living have been damaged over the past four decades mainly because of the state of emergency and the general security situation in the country.
For a very long time, the Syrian government did not pay enough attention to these issues, and the external elements used these weaknesses to promote their own interests. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government finally realized the gravity of the situation and made a series of new decisions, but unfortunately, it was too late.
However, many believe that there is still an opportunity for the Syrian government to normalize the situation. To do this, the government must accept the reasonable demands of the opposition, and if it is necessary to negotiate with some elements in the opposition, talks should be held because they could effectively normalize the situation. Of course, in this case, the government should not give the foreign elements any chance to interfere in the process.
The Syrian government should attempt to bring the situation under control in an appropriate manner. Although the current president and his father, Hafez al-Assad, were only able to rule the country for the past four decades through the use of special methods, this does not necessarily mean that it will be possible for Bashar al-Assad to continue to rule Syria based on these old assumptions.
It is not yet clear how the Syrian government will deal with the current situation, but undoubtedly, if the government wants to win the people over and convince them to remain calm, it must accept their legitimate demands and promise them a brighter future.
Dr. Javad Mansouri previously served as Iran’s ambassador to China.