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The Countdown! Print E-mail
Friday, 20 May 2011 01:38

By Marah Bukaiِ & Jared MacDonald 

For every action, there is an equal but opposite reäction.  It’s a widely acknowledged principal, but one which Bashar al-Assad seems not to grasp wholly.  After more than two months of popular protests against his régime, excessive violence and brutality continue to be the order of the day with Mr. Assad.

Neither this, though, nor the government’s halfhearted concessions and attempts to reach out have done much to satiate those whom he presumes to regard as his people.  The time has come—indeed, it has far passed—for Mr. Assad to cease the killing, to step down, and to open the country’s political system.
 Bashar al-Assad is doing himself no favors by continuing along this track of tyranny and savagery.  He has pushed a great preponderance of Syrians to the point at which they will accept nothing less than his abdication and a change of régime; the right to speak out peacefully against the government is now only the first step.  Perhaps if Mr. Assad had chosen to quit while he was ahead, so to speak, he could have satisfied the demonstrators before the movement bloomed to its current intensity.  He could have allowed Syrians to air their grievances without being shot and abducted.  He could have instituted actual, substantial reforms.  He could have rolled back the country’s emergency laws—and not only in name, but in actuality!  Instead, he chose the path of escalation—escalation of injustices, of heavy-handedness, and of cruelty.  By extent, he has only intensified Syrians’ determination to oust him.
 Assad’s government has downplayed the strength and significance of the protest movement, but there can be no denying of the extent to which the nation and state have been hurt.  Hundreds of people have been killed and countless others are being detained.  Though Assad may not care about Syrians’ lives and well-being, one may imagine him certainly lamenting the drain on state resources and reduced economic output in which the ordeal has resulted.  Moreover, Assad has not been garnering many friends internationally as a result of this.  Those in West who may once have held some optimism about the progressivity of Assad’s régime are now hardly holding back in issuing condemnations and threats of punitive measures.  Even Turkey, whose relations with Syria were actually rather positive, has taken to rebukes against Assad.
 Bashar al-Assad has little choice but to step down.  Perhaps it seemed to him that Qadhafi had successfully found the formula for evading the fate that had befallen Ben Ali and Mubarak—but he may want to rethink that, now that NATO bombs are falling on Tripoli.  The movement against his régime has gained too much momentum, and it is not on track to be stifled by empty promises—especially not while Assad’s forces are simultaneously shooting at them.  There is little hope of Syria soon and easily returning to the manner of stability that it enjoyed even earlier in the year.  The people will not be satisfied until he and the Ba`ath Party are gone.  The only question is, how much and how many more is he willing to sacrifice on his way out?
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