The International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana has been analyzing the newest events in connection to Syria in light of the establishment of ‘The New World Order’. The most interesting sections of the analysis are given below:
The quick fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad has changed settled-in equations concerning the Middle East and the international politics in general. The April Ninth of this year represents a historical date for the Middle East and the region that was marked by wars, violence, terrorism, tyranny and more, in other words things not fitted to a modern man. At the same time, on the day when in Berlin, Paris, Damascus and Cairo the demonstrators were burning American flags, the liberated Iraqis were kissing them.
On the tenth of April this year, the former opponents of the war France, Germany and Russia (according to the Russian daily ‘Izvestia’ they were called the defeated ones) came together in St. Petersburg and started to change the political course while simultaneously forgetting the words uttered during last sessions of the Security Council weeks ago. All of them congratulated the Iraqi people, wished them peace and expressed their readiness to cancel the Iraqi debt - the money used by the Iraqi regime to construct palaces for themselves and torture chambers for the people. The day of the liberation of Baghdad will certainly serve as a milestone not among the centuries, but rather due to a fact that Baghdad has entered the new century with an exit from the mediaeval darkness.
The collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime was also a collapse of the United Nations Organization and its Security Council, caught among the economic interests of Russia, France, China and some dictatorial states that were not permanent members and were afraid that a similar fate might occur to them as well, as said by Richard Pearle from the Defense Politics Council at the American Pentagon.
The first reactions are arriving from Russia from the meeting of the presidents Putin, Chirac and Schroeder at the ‘Peace and International Law’ tribune. The Russian President Putin said ‘that the world is changing and that the international law system has to change as well in order to adapt itself to the present time’. The reactions of the Arab regimes to the changes in Baghdad are very cautious, since for them a change in Baghdad means a change in the whole region. Some countries are taking these changes very seriously. One of these is Saudi Arabia that has already announced a reconstruction of the government and establishment of expert commissions to explore the urgently needed changes in the society, economy and educational system. The road to changes in Saudi Arabia will be problematic and slow with an uncertain outcome since the ruling dynasty Al Saud is as a system closely connected to the ongoing processes in the Saudi society – rigid educational system, limited rights of women (e.g. prohibition to drive cars, women do not posses identity cards), unreformed and more than conservative religious leaders.
The changes will include also Iran. Two hundred Iranian religious leaders (among them also the ultra-conservative former president Rafsanjani) and prominent intellectuals have in their open letter to the president Khatemi demanded from him to speed his reformatory efforts. The conservatives are well aware that if the President Khatemi won’t reform the country, the Americans surely will. The price then would be too high and there is even a possibility that the Islamic regime would fall. The fears of Iran are superfluous since Iran is not a part of the Middle-Eastern region in which the reforms should take place. Iran belongs to the area of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asia and is treated in such a context. A proof that Iran is not a part of the Middle East lies in the fact that Iran never threatened the security in Persian Gulf, except minor incidents during the Iran - Iraq War.
Syria as a country under the rule of the left wing of the Baath Party is in a very delicate and sensitive position. Damascus is ruled by a young, pro-western London ophthalmologist Bashar Al-Asad, who inherited an out-dated political structure and individuals that were surrounding and serving his father, the late president Hafez Al-Asad, including: present Vice-President of the country Abdulhalim Khadam, the Foreign Minister Faruk Al-Sharaa, the Defense Minister Mustafa Telas, etc. and the complete party apparatus in itself being a remnant of the ‘Cold War’, when Syria was an exponent of the Soviet Union in the Middle east. Each attempt of the President Al-Asad is condemned to fail unless thorough and radical reforms are undertaken.
In Damascus seats of the most radical organizations are found: Hamas, Jihad, Hezbollah, National Front and People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in Damascus tens of the leading functionaries of the Iraqi regime and tens of Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological program scientists found refuge. Among them is also Izet Al-Douri, the Number two of the former Iraqi regime. The presence of the remnants of the Iraqi regime in Syria represents a potential danger for the new administration in Baghdad. To this we should add the transfer of the Iraqi chemical weapons to Syria in the beginning of March 2003, which only added to the existing danger.
The Syrian regime is using its military presence in Lebanon and the presence of the mentioned organizations in Damascus to direct the Syrian people to the external political enemy in order to forget the interior troubles of the country with 17 million inhabitants, of which 10% are the Kurds and the Armenians (500.000 of them do not have a Syrian citizenship). The political system is similar to the former Iraqi one; one-party system (Baath), permanent emergency measurements and the military that is in every way trying reach the weapons of mass destruction.
According to the opinion of the International Institute IFIMES, the Syrian leadership and especially the President Al-Asad have to perform some urgent interventions in the state structure. Syria has to define its position towards the future government in Baghdad and cooperate with Iraq on the new basis of friendly neighboring relations and respect of the territorial integrity and unity of the Iraqi state. Because of this there is an urgent need to expel all the personnel of the former Iraqi regime, to fully cooperate with the new government in Baghdad and the Coalition forces and to inform them on the names and the dates of departure of the 4.000 fighters (mujaheeds), among which there are 1.000 Syrians, from its territory to Iraq. This represents an important step and a clear sign that Syria wishes peace with Iraq and has no desire to have a country in a civil war on its eastern border. The second condition is to cease the activity of radical organizations from Damascus, a first step towards peace with Israel. The third conditions is a reduction of influence and interference with the internal affairs of Lebanon, so that Syria can become a cohesive factor among the diverse ethnical and religious groups in Lebanon, and also a total withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
Syria comprises an important part of the American plan called ‘Partnership for the Middle East’ into which Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy belong. In these countries democratic elements are present, while in some countries democracy is under way, like in Iraq or among the Palestinians. The present-day Syria does not fit into the above-mentioned efforts and plans. Syria has on the internal plane to abolish one-party system, end the emergency measurements and legitimize oppositional parties. Syria has to respect human rights into which belongs the revision of the citizenship law, which would provide a citizenship to half a million of its inhabitants, mostly of Kurdish and Armenian origin. The revised citizenship law also has to give the right to 400.000 Palestinians, so they can voluntarily acquire Syrian citizenship.
According to the opinion of the International Institute IFIMES, if Syria positively responds to the mentioned requests it will be positively rewarded by the U.S. and the new Iraqi government with a participation in rebuilding Iraq as a sub-contractor, while in opposite case it will be punished. The USA has already promised such rewards to Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. These countries have indirectly participated in the Coalition and also posses an additional advantage since the price of their labor force does not exceed 300 EU monthly and are in close proximity to Iraq or are bordering on it. Great Britain, Poland, Bulgaria and Rumania will be treated as members of the Coalition and will as such gain a status of business contractor in Iraq.