The Syrian regime and its ruling tools

By: Nebras Dalloul

No one doubts that the Syrian uprising is a right and just cause. But alas, the most important     support for Assad’s regime comes from its rivals’ opposition

However, internal and regional opposition to the Syrian regime don’t understand the ruling mechanism of the regime, as conclusion, that drives them to misuse the available tools to oust Assad

The Syrian regime bases itself on a concrete position, socially and economically. So, after about a one bloody year of the uprising, we couldn’t keep saying that Assad is only depend on his Alawite sect and other religious minorities to stay in power, especially when notice that we had never seen any revolutionary movement or even a small public protest against Assad in important cities like Aleppo and Raqa

In Aleppo, for example, the local bourgeoisie and merchants control the city with main support and help which come from the Sunni clergy. Ash-Shami and Hassoun are the two main supporters of Assad’s regime within clergy in Aleppo. They do whatever possible to avoid any opposition movement in the city which is the lungs of the Syrian economy. Businessmen and clergy, it is an old formula within totalitarian regimes and no difference if it is a medieval authoritarian or modern progressive that Assad claims himself

But how had Assad won their support when all Syria and the world know that he came from a poor countryside with a widely hated background within Sunni majority: Assad is Alawite

In fact, those date-back to Assad’s late father, Hafez. In 1970, when Hafez Al-Assad took over Syria, he intelligently understood the importance of Aleppo. He benefited from his comrades when they were in power from 1963 till 1970

During those years, Hafez and his comrades in the Revolutionary Council RC controlled Syria with a historic hate for all those who belong to cities! The social background of the RC members (mostly came from Syria’s poor countryside) and their religious background (mostly belong to the long-time oppressed minorities, not to the Sunni majority) plus their political ideology, all are leftists or even hard-line Marxists

All these factors, combined, drove them to be more ideological bigots than the Soviet Union itself

RC had launched a several undeclared wars against bourgeoisie which is basically located in Damascus and Aleppo, and the result for those seven years of RC in power is: Merchants in Damascus and factories owners in Aleppo caused an instability situation which, in turn, caused a wide public anger and waves of violence from time to time against the RC ruling method

After 1970, Hafez Al-Assad co-operated with businessmen in Aleppo, his past time enemies are now his allies! Assad declared in his Victory manifesto over his old comrades, declared that all the components of the society are invited to do their best for establishing a strong state which then could face its enemy, Israel. In fact, the manifesto was a clear message to the Syrian businessmen and merchants. (See Patrick Seal’s Assad and the conflict on the Middle East)

Regarding to the role of the Sunni clergy in Aleppo and Damascus, we can say that they help the regime as possible as they can. That because of the welfare they used to live in since Hafez Al-Assad era. Also because their mutual relationship between them and the merchants in both cities. In 2005 when one of Aleppo’s richest businessmen announced his broke, many clergy institutions’ members made a suit against him, and according to people’s rumor, a one sheikh had died when he had heard the news

If Aleppo would now to revolts against the regime, masses would made up of workers or other low-waged people, who they have all possible justifications to change their life under Assad’s regime. But, merchants and businessmen prevent them in assistance of clergy, because workers, in both Aleppo and Damascus, are of a conservative religious background

Throughout 40 years of Assad dynasty ruling, the regime has giving a blind eye on violations that the private sector is doing. Private sector, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, does not follow any job regulations. Also, the existing regulations are not enough to protect the workers or to save their future in cases of resignation or retirement

Tribes and rural areas

The eastern region in Syria is dominated by tribes with their traditional way of life. Each tribe is controlled by its Sheikh and all sheikhs are allies of the regime. This relationship between tribes and the regime could be seen notably in the People’s Assembly, the legislative body; however, about 52% of its members are tribes sheikhs or nominated by tribes

If the Syrian army and the security forces are dominated by Alawites, the police force is dominated by traditional tribes from the eastern region! It is an undeclared power sharing within the Syrian regime

Today, many Arab tribes members are not controlled strictly by their sheikhs, many believe that what happening in Syria right now is a revolution for freedom. But this situation may never last for long! However, one of the most favourite games for the Syrian regime is; playing with contradictions

In the eastern region, there is a sense of competition, sometimes bloody competition, over land, heritage and identity between Arab tribes majority and Kurdish minority. In 2004, while Kurdish uprising, the regime depend on the Arab majority in crackdown there

The north-eastern and the south region are the main rural areas in Syria, which dominated basically by Arab Sunni tribes inhabitants. They are a great strong population depend on farming and agriculture in their living. So it is important to say here, that all Syrians describe them as; the Syria’s food security guards

The Syrian regime failed within the past for years to solve the problem of drought which had caused waves of internal immigration. Immigrants headed basically to Damascus and Aleppo. Now, the regime propaganda machines are focusing on plans and programmes under the patronage of  president Bashar Al-Assad in personnel to encourage agriculture in the north-eastern region, but it seems doesn’t works in convincing the farmers for not thinking of uprising. The immigrants’ situation in Damascus is very bad; they live in workplaces which located basically around Damascus. In April-2009 four workers died because falling of pre-cast wall they used its shadow to protect themselves from sunshine while rest, the four were from Hassaka in the most far city of the eastern region. (See Kassioun newspaper issue No 402). I can perfectly imagine how the whole scene would be; if this accident happens now

Finally, it is very important to say, that the regime insists of power sharing, but in its own rules and desire, so neither minority religious group nor ethnic or regional group is not represented within the regime institutions with high-profile figures


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