Why Assad “Wasn’t, Won’t be” Defeated? (1/7)
Sadeq Khanafer, Hussein Mallah
Few days, weeks, or even months…very soon the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be defeated. This is what the great leaders of the western and Arab powers predicted. However, the Syrian crisis has aged three years, yet the regime hasn’t fallen. Moreover, it was reported that some settlement is being simmered slowly, on the basis of dialogue between Damascus and the opposition, without the previous bets that were based on toppling President Assad.
To show the points of power and resistance with respect to Syria and its president facing the unprecedented universal attack for more than two years, we present in a seven-parts report entitled “Why Assad wasn’t, won’t be Defeated?” with numbers, facts, the most important means of confrontation used by the regime. In addition, we will show its powerful qualifications that made it able, till the moment, and “will help it” in the future to stay and survive.
Syria… for those who don’t know it..
In part one, we focus on defining Syria, its emergence, geographic and demographic formation, resources, political regime… reaching the recent events…
The State of Syria
Syria, its official name is the Syrian Arab Republic. Its capital is Damascus, its total area is 185.180 squared kilometers, its population is approximately 24 million people.
Borders and Geography
Syria is located to the west of Asia on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean in a region considered to be the intersection point between Asia, Europe, and Africa. It has common borders with Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, Turkey to the north, Lebanon to the west, and its Golan Heights go along with the southwestern side of the occupied Palestine. In addition, Syria’s shore off the Mediterranean goes along the western side of the country.
Demography and Population
Its population hits 23,695,000 people, it occupies the 7th Arab level and the 54th international level with respect to its population. Most of the Syrian people are educated, the government offers free education for all levels. The age average when birth is 76 years, which sets Syria in the 8th Arab position with respect to the life index. Syrian people or those of Syrian origins abroad hit around 18 millions. Most of the population are Muslims divided on different sects, in addition to a high Christian population in Syria and abroad. The country is considered of great religious importance. It is a center for several Christian and Muslim sects. Most of the people in Syria are Arabs, they form 90% of the overall population, in addition to 8% of the Kurds, 2% of other ethnics including Armenians, Turkmen, and Charkas.
History and Civilization
Syria had witnessed several civilizations in the human history. The most ancient human monuments in Syria go back to a million years. Ancient civilizations settled in Syria, among them are the Sumerian, Assyrian, and Phoenician, Seleucian, Roman, Byzantine, Omayyad, Abbasid, Crusade, Ottomans and others.
Regime and Politics
The Syrian regime is a republican presidential regime, and the President is Bashar Assad. Syria is a founding member in the United Nations; it was elected twice in the UN Security Council. It is also a founding member in the League of Arab Nations, the Islamic Cooperation Organization, the UN Economic and Social Committee for Western Asia, the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Agency for Atomic Energy, the International Organization for Civil Aviation, Food and Agriculture Organization, Group 24, Group 77, the Non-Aligned Movement, organizations related to the Arab League such as the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the Great Free Arab Trade Zone, among others.
Unity is Necessary
Article 42 of the Syrian Constitution provides that saving national unity is the duty of every citizen. In fact, Syria didn’t witness, in its modern history, any clashes or conflicts based on religious or sectarian reasons unlike many other countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. In addition, article 35 guarantees the freedom of performing all religious rituals and establishing houses of worship, the same article guarantees the right to freedom of religion for all citizens.
Islam and Christianity
Along the Islamic history, Syria was the platform where many important states and events had took place, especially the Omayyad and the Zengid dynasties. In the Middle Ages literature, Damascus was called “Sham Sherif”, for its importance and position. Moreover, the country includes many shrines and tombs of the pious men and the companions who were famous in history, some of them were from the household of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Syria also is of great importance on the level of the Christian history, it is the center of many churches and patriarchates of which the most important is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate, and the Melkite Catholic Patriarchate, among others. It also contains many eastern churches all over its lands. Syria had produced many saints, in addition to that many clergymen are Syrian. Furthermore, there are many Christian holy places in Syria, such as Saidnaya, Maloula, Sadad, Deir Sem’an, Sarjila, and tens of historic Christian villages that were centers for saints in the First Christian Age. Not to mention, Saint Maroun, the intercessor of the Maronite sect, is buried in Syria.
Economy and Resources
On the level of resources and investment in Syria, agriculture is considered a very important element in the national income, in addition to other sectors such as industry, trade and services, and tourism, whose development contributes to the richness in monuments and fortresses as well as the country’s moderate climate. There are also many underground resources such as oil, natural gas, and phosphate, noting that some of these resources could achieve self satisfaction.
Syria is considered among the countries that influence general policy in the Middle East. It is within what is known as the “axis of resistance”, and supports resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon frankly and officially. As a result of this stance, its relationship with the United States is not good.
However, the Syrian relationship with Iran is very good, which is greatly reflected on the economic relations between the two countries. Relations are also good with Russia and China. Syria’s foreign policy sought recently building relationships with eastern European countries and Latin America to develop bilateral relations and improve economic exchange. It was mainly represented in the mutual visits and cooperation protocols signature on different levels.
The Army and Armed Forces
The Syrian army is the official regular apparatus to defend the country. According to the Constitution, the President is the High Leader of the army and the armed forces. Minister of Defense is his deputy and assigns the Commander-in-Chief. The Syrian army is the 16th worldwide regarding its size. It is the 2nd on the level of Arab armies after the Egyptian army.
The Syrian army participated in many wars against the Zionist entity such as 1948, 1967, 1973, and 1974 wars. It participated in thwarting the Israeli invasion to Lebanon in 1982.
The army’s armory is imported from the Soviet Union, then Russia, in addition to China and Iran. It includes Scud-S and Scud-D missiles capable of reaching Israel, in addition to American S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Mig-31 fighters that could replace the American F-16 fighting falcons. The army also owns many tanks and different individual weapons.
Syria is considered a central-government country. The center of the government is Damascus, the capital. As for administrative divisions, the republic is divided into 14 governorates; each governorate is divided into several regions. “The Ministry of Local Administration” is in charge of organizing the relationship between the governorates and the government on the one hand, and the government and governorates on the other.
Syrian Governorates (click on the name to see more)
• Al-Hasakah Governorate
• Deir Ez-Zour Governorate
• Ar-Reqqah Governorate
• Aleppo Governorate
• Idlib Governorate
• Latakia Governorate
• Tartus Governorate
• Hama Governorate
• Homs Governorate
• Damascus Governorate
• Rif Dimashq Governorate
• As-Suwayda Governorate
• Daraa Governorate
• Quneitra Governorate
This display was necessary to show the truth of what is going on in Syria in the meantime, as well as the crisis that is threatening the geographic and population unity.
The conflict in Syria doesn’t only demand reform and democracy as reported by western and Arab media outlets, even though those demands are the right of every people, but in the Syrian case, the intention aimed at targeting the country by suggesting triggering subjects such as freedom, dignity, and reform, until reaching the demand to topple the regime.
When the crisis began in March two years ago, after the Daraa events, some considered it an opportunity to reckoning Damascus, while others consider the new Syria a starting point to restore some sorts of glory that had gone. Americans and Zionists aimed at weakening Syria within a local conflict that leads to ousting it from the regional equation, and involving it in a destructive war that makes busy all leadership, people and army after being for decades inside the anti-American projects in the region by supporting resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq during the American occupation.
In the following parts we will present the very details of how Syria, the state, government, people, and army resisted and will continue resisting in the ongoing confrontation.
• Part 2: The State of Syria… Universal War and Resistance despite Pain
• Part 3: When the Army Resisted… and Challenged
• Part 4: Policy and Diplomacy… Sticking to the Constants
• Part 5: The Inside and Outside Opposition
• Part 6: Syria… The World Became Two Poles
• Part 7: The Solution in Syria?
Part 2 of “Why Assad Wasn’t, Won’t be Defeated?” discusses how Syria, the state and the institutions, was able to continue normally despite the mass destruction of its infrastructure and vital sectors, as well as the series of Arab and western sanctions and the siege imposed on the country since the beginning of the crisis.
Perhaps the truth is that Syria is bleeding due to the armed conflict that was intended to damage the first country to build Arab unity with Egypt in the modern history, support Egypt during the 1956 trilateral attack, and support the Algerian revolution against the French colonialism. This resulted from Syria’s position against the Zionist occupation to Palestine since its first days, which was revealed through being in the axis of resistance, especially after ousting Egypt through the Camp David Accord, and the systematic destruction for Iraq.
There is no doubt that the pressure that was and still being exerted on Syria and its army was pretty sufficient to cause its defeat since its first months, but Syria survived after more than two years, despite pains and destruction.
Since the beginning of the events (in Daraa, in March 2011) till the moment, it became clear that the Syrian status is heading towards a systematic escalation although the leadership confessed that some demands of the demonstrators were righteous (in the beginning), that political faults took place, and it was ready for dialogue and reforms, but things then went like a rolling snowball after foreign interventions on the Syrian land and relating the “end” of the Syrian crisis with Damascene waivers among which the most important was dissolving from the axis of resistance.
Syria recognized this condition and chose the challenge, in parallel with several reformative steps such as adopting a new Constitution and holding parliament and local elections in which the opposition forces had participated for the first time. All this neither did please some opposition sides nor the regional and international forces. It was followed by an unprecedented media campaign on Syria, Arabic and national diplomatic pressure was represented by excluding Damascus from the Arab League and granting its seat to the opposition coalition. However, Russia and China, along with the BRICS countries, succeeded in preventing the attempt to exclude Syria internationally.
Pure Syrian… Coherent System
Syria couldn’t have resisted without a coherent political, military, economic, and social system, even though some limited splits took place. In this context, Khalaf Al-Muftah, Aide of the Syrian Minister of Information, said in an interview with Al-Manar Website: “The state and the institutions in Syria are purely made in Syria, that’s why they weren’t influenced by the foreign factor. Were they made abroad, they would collapsed. They represent a local product that saved its identity.”
Al-Muftah emphasized that “The Syrian leadership was able to manage the political game and the crisis with absolute wisdom.” “President Bashar Assad’s psychological stability and ability to add more values to the military and social factors, as well as his ability to grasp the international and regional game, all contributed to receiving strong regional and international support, as well as creating a sort of balance that protected the Syrian state form being defeated.”
Among the factors that helped Syria in facing the crisis:
• It knew how and on whom it could bet on the foreign level
• It didn’t pass a foreign conspiracy that was self-uncovered after its failure
• President Bashar Assad’s personality that wasn’t unpleasant
• The suggested alternative didn’t meet the expectations of the people in Syria
• The cohesion of the military, political, and economic system
• The regime still enjoys huge popularity according to western and Arab surveys
Syria… the Economy
Syria is facing a ruthless battle, just like those against the militants, represented by facing the western and Arab economic blockade, as well as progressing economic needs and providing its citizens with financial needs, and services such as health, electricity, and energy…
Despite the strict sanctions and pressures, the Syrian government succeeded in lessening losses through the moving-eastward policy, and making benefits from the expertise, which allowed Syrians to continue in the state’s affairs despite the growing emigration inside and outside the country. The governmental institutions continued their job despite the mass destruction of the infrastructure and the vital facilities, such as electricity generating and oil refining stations, and public streets networks. However, all of this didn’t prevent the Syrian government from saving the minimum monetary and financial stability.
Between Openness and Self-Satisfaction
Before 2000, Syria adopted along the past decades an economic policy in which the state was the main axis. The Syrian leadership, since the era of late President Hafez Assad, didn’t rely in its economy on the western aid or what is known the capital system. However, it adopted a self-satisfaction policy on the agricultural and oil levels, and somehow the industrial. It also rationed importing and set local production as its first priority.
However, after 2000, and especially during the last years before the crisis, Syria tended to economic openness on its neighbors such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and even Gulf countries, as well as the BRICS countries, South American and European countries. Syria also signed several agreements with those countries, yet it didn’t link its economy to the western standards.
Variety and Production
In this context, the Syrian Minister of Economy’s Aide Hayyan Suleiman said to Al-Manar Website that “The Syrian economy’s nature is diverse and productive. Syria is among the lowest indebted countries in the world. It has relationships with huge countries such as Russia, China, and the Iranian Republic, which allowed it to face the crisis whose effects were less than the expected.”
Suleiman emphasized that “Any institution or economic position didn’t postpone salaries payment. This is proved by the fact that the 2013 annual budget was greater than 2012 and the greatest ever. We also have pretty enough monetary reserve. We seek positive adaptation with the circumstances of this conspiracy and real war.” “Economic relationships with some Arab countries do exist, yet they are stronger with Iran, Russia, China, and other friendly states,” he added.
It is true that this policy had both advantages and disadvantages, yet it produced a country that enjoys economic, military elements that don’t exist in many countries blessed with oil.
About this point, Vice-President of the Syrian Parliament Khaled Al-Abboud mentioned to Al-Manar Website that “The relationship between the people and the head of the political system is accepted in comparison with the relationship of that between the peoples of the region and their leaderships.” “Going back to the governmental institutions, and despite the siege on Syria and the attempts to hinder its progress in the past decades, the slogan in economy, agriculture and industry says that people must eat less than they produce, plant, and invest. Thus, we became a self-satisfied country. Syria could say that it is a self-satisfied country, and I believe it is the only self-satisfied country on the regional level,” he added.
Industry… Destruction and Theft
In the industrial field, as it became known, Syria relied mainly on its local industries. Aleppo was the economic lung and was described the second capital since it is the center of the Syrian financial and industrial flow. It is remarkable that the city’s population that hits around two and half a million persons was apart from the events until the last summer when thousands of militants sneaked into it in an unprecedented plan to control the city, which failed to succeed in the presence of the Syrian army operations.
Syrian estimates noted that sneaking into the city was coordinated by an intelligence operation within the Turkish government that stole Aleppo’s industries. Economic expert Hayyan Suleiman emphasizes this to Al-Manar Website saying that “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, seeks destroying Syrian facilities, stealing production lines especially the products that compete with the Turkish industry such as spinning, nutritive and medical materials, as well as cement factories and selling it for the cheapest prices.”
“Syria was stolen twice clearly. The first time was in 1865 when the Ottomans moved all jobs and crafts to the Astana, and the second in 2012 that was ordered by the Turkish Prime Minister and the Head of the Justice and Development Party, in which criminal gangs were sent to move all the industries to Istanbul,” he added.
According to Suleiman, “Those issues didn’t stop on the industrial level; rather it harmed the national economy. This is proved by their theft of the oil wells, burning them, and letting those gangs hurt people and everything else. They also stole grains, cut olive trees, and stole goods from the warehouses.”
Whether the Turkish government was aware of that, Suleiman answered that “the machines were recorded while being entered via Bab Al-Hawa passageway on the Turkish borders. Those machines couldn’t be moved but using heavy-loading trucks that couldn’t pass but through certain borderlines.” “The theft didn’t include the industrial side; however it included all the other economic fields. The losses are estimated by more than 300 billion Syrian Liras, in addition to the moral and humanitarian losses and damages,” he added.
Media… Challenges and Confrontation
There is no exaggeration saying that media was one of the main reasons in escalating the Syrian crisis and pushing it toward this limit. It used more than 200 Arab and international media outlets as a weapon in the battle with Syria. This huge imbalance was normal especially that those outlets are sponsored by countries and governments that employed billions of dollars to build “media empires.”
For this reason, the Syrian media (visible, audible, and electronic) suffered from obvious gaps since the beginning of the events. It found itself in an unfair and unequipped battle. However, after a period of time, Syrian media could minimize this gap in the coverage in front of the competent media outlets, in convenience with the available capabilities.
After the Crisis… Different Media
Khalaf Al-Muftah, Aide of the Syrian Minister of Information, emphasizes to our website that “Syria is facing an unprecedented media war, and the misleading media took benefits from the empty zones left by the official media. It was able to adapt with the crisis and restore its audience for its nearness from the ground, as well as presenting real news.” “The Syrian media, despite being in an unfair battle, could influence and acquire a huge audience through its relativity with the reality,” he added.
Al-Muftah noted that “The role of the resistant media, and the journalists, educated people, and Arab authors, contributed to enlightening the public opinion without creating a gap, as well as facing this international campaign and attempting to affect the international public opinion that became influential in the regional and international decision making. We mustn’t forget social networks, and the electronic Syrian army.”
Al-Muftah added that “The battle is between resistance and the hegemony powers. Every person could make a difference in the battlefield.” “The battle of awareness was important. The awareness of the battle and its dimensions contributed to shortening the way and facing media outlets that enjoys equipments and money, as well as –unfortunately- loud voices that could affect some areas,” he said.
Syrian media’s role in this phase is to alert decision-making areas in Arab and western world because Syrian satellite channels were banned from the Arab and European satellites. In the meantime, wide terrifying campaigns were launched against media employees. In addition, numerous media members were targeted, the Syrian Television was exploded, and the Al-Ekhbariya Channel was destroyed.
Because it is Different from All
Syria, despite the violent attack on all levels, could resist and wasn’t defeated because it is different from the all, and what is going on there is different from what went on in other countries:
The Russian Communist Revolution lasted two months.
The French Liberal Revolution lasted three weeks.
The Iranian Revolution lasted six months.
As for the so-called “Arab Spring”:
Tunisia: Fifteen days
Egypt: Two months
Libya: Ten months
Yemen: One year
However, Syria = Resistant
صادق خنافر وحسين ملاح
أيام معدودة، أسابيع، اشهر قليلة، قريباً جداً،.. ويسقط الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد. هذا ما تنبأ به كبار القادة في بلاد الغرب والعرب. وها قد دخلت الأزمة السورية سنتها الثالثة، ولم يسقط النظام، وكثر الحديث عن تسوية ما تطبخ على “نار هادئة”، ترتكز على الحوار بين دمشق والمعارضة، من دون ذكر الرهانات السابقة القائمة على اسقاط الرئيس الأسد.
ولتبيان مكامن قوة وصمود سورية ورئيسها في وجه الهجمة الكونية الغير مسبوقة لأكثر من عامين، نستعرض في تقرير من سبعة أجزاء بعنوان “لماذا لم ولن يسقط الأسد؟”، بالمعطيات والأرقام والوقائع أبرز أدوات المواجهة التي اعتمدها النظام، ونبين نقاط قوته التي مكنته حتى الساعة و”ستمكنه” في المستقبل من البقاء والإستمرار.
ولسوريا أهمية كبيرة في تاريخ المسيحية، فهي مقر عدد من الكنائس والبطريركيات أبرزها بطريركية أنطاكية وسائر المشرق للروم الأرثوذكس وبطريركية السريان الأرثوذكس وبطريركية الملكيين الكاثوليك وغيرهم، وقامت بها الكثير من كنائس الشرق من شرقها إلى غربها. وقد خرج من سوريا عدد كبير من القديسين إلى جانب كون عدد كبير من آباء الكنيسة هم من السوريين. كذلك هناك العديد من المقدسات المسيحية المهمة مثل صيدنايا ومعلولا وصدد ودير سمعان وسرجيلا وعشرات القرى التاريخية المسيحية التي كانت مراكز القديسين في عصر المسيحية الأولى. وكنيسة براد التي تحوي مدفن القديس مار مارون شفيع الطائفة المارونية.
ولسوريا علاقات مميزة مع إيران، تنعكس على العلاقات الاقتصادية بين البلدين بشكل كبير. كما أن لها علاقات مميزة مع روسيا والصين، وقد سعت السياسة الخارجية للتوجه نحو بلدان أوروبا الشرقية وأمريكا اللاتينية خلال المرحلة الأخيرة، لتطوير العلاقات الثنائية وتحسين التبادل الاقتصادي تمثل ذلك بشكل رئيسي في الزيارات المتبادلة وتوقيع برتكولات تعاون على مختلف الصعد.
الجيش والقوات المسلحة
شارك الجيش السوري في عدد من الحروب ضد الكيان الإسرائيلي منها حرب 1948 وحرب 1967 وحرب تشرين عامي 1973 و1974. وشارك في التصدي للاجتياح الإسرائيلي للبنان عام 1982.
ترسانة الجيش مستوردة من الاتحاد السوفيتي ومن ثم من روسيا إضافة إلى الصين وإيران، وهي تشمل صورايخ سكود -س وسكود – د القادرة على أن تطول إسرائيل، إضافة إلى صوايخ اس -300 المضادة للطائرات الحربية ومقاتلات ميج 31 التي تعتبر البديل عن طائرات إف-15 الإمريكية الصنع؛ كما يملك الجيش العديد من الدبابات والأسلحة الفردية المختلفة.
المحافظات السوريّة (إضغط على إسم المحافظة للإطلاع على المزيد)
فالصراع الدائر في سورية لا يقتصر على مطالب الاصلاح والديمقراطية، كما تروج وسائل اعلامية غربية وعربية، وان كانت هذه المطالب حق لكافة الشعوب، الا انه في الحالة السورية أُريد من خلالها استهداف هذا البلد عبر طرح عناوين براقة تدغدغ المشاعر (الحرية ، الكرامة، الاصلاح) حتى وصلت الى المطالبة باسقاط النظام..
.. وفي الأجزاء التالية نستعرض بالتفصيل كيف صمدت وستصمد سورية الدولة والنظام والشعب والجيش في المواجهة المستمرة..