A view on Syria policy
Major Tamas WEBER
Tamas Weber, born in Budapest in 1942, is a major in the Swedish Army. He served in the rank of the French Foreign Legion during the war in Algeria and was made Commander of the National Order of France.
He has publish two books – The Song of the Desert and The Warriors' – Rose and has written several articles in the newspaper or magazines about the Middle East
Tamas Weber is also a world well known Karate master, the only European indictee in the hall of fame in the US.
I would like to highlight facts and analyses published in both international as well as local Swedish media concerning Syria.
At the aftermath of the global economic crisis and the arrival of nearly two million Iraqi refugees, the Syrians understand that this is not a viable process for national development and long-term economical growth.
They understand the importance of re-integrating themselves into the international community. Syrians understand the need to overcome the obvious obstacles created by their past support of terror-based organizations and states, in direct confrontation with American and/or European global policies.
In all of the analysis, it is highlighted and emphasized fact that both USA and Europe now take a slightly different approach when defining Syria. Rather that being labelled as a country supporting and encouraging terror, world powers use a more nuanced and flexible approach. This indicates a heightened awareness of today's Syria, much different than the statement used during the G. W. Bush administration as "a state in the axe of evil".
Today, Syria is viewed as an important regional factor of stabilization due to the regime's historical long-term relations with Iran and the terrorist movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah as well as their influence in Lebanon.
As a result of those connections, the Syrians are in a position to channel their political stance and impose their (good) will: to curb the flow of terrorist actions toward their close neighbours as well as limit the infiltration and flow of migrants, cash flow and weapons. Syria can also limit the freedom inside the nation and/or over the border- crossings to Iraq, Turkey, Israel and Lebanon.
Syria's historically positive political relationship with Iran facilitates the Syrians influence over the Shiite in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. One should not forget that the Shiite are today an active part of the Lebanese government, strongly influenced by the Hezbollah with their direct religious and political links to Iran. Also, Iran is their major military arms and technology supplier.
The regime's leadership, an appurtenance mainly to the Muslim Alawite religious minority, rules with harshness primarily toward the younger population sector..
The Syrians control and frame all civilian opposition, religious groups or associations, strongly limiting and repression them by enforced rules. The "religious play ground" where extremists can flourish is less than minimal. Opportunities for public outbursts, actions, slogans are not available.
One direct consequence is that religious militant activities will be hampered. The capacity of these activists to influence society by spreading extremist views will be severely restricted by the use of force.
The government, in particular a very tiny popular support base, has divided the security establishment into several different organizations to control each other. The defence forces, with many high-ranking Alawite officers, continues under the control of the Bath Party to avoid any attempts for a take-over of power. In addition, there are communication filters: no freedom of speech plus controlled media channels.
This rigid political censorship and repression efficiently hinders any kind of political opposition to the regime. Relative improvements in material standards, access to university and college education, maintained "no war no peace" status toward Israel and goals to recoup the Golan Heights, are but a few of the key negotiation tools used by Syria when dealing with Israel. This clearly legitimises the ideology ensuring that both regime as well as the Bath party maintain a balanced survival and continue to stay in power.