the Blog Papers of Dr. Michael Sakbani; Economics, Finance and Politics

Dr. Michael Sakbani is a professor of economics and Finance at the Geneva campus of Webster-Europe. He is a senior international consultant to the UN system, European Union and Swiss banks. His career began at the State university of NY at Stoney Brook,then the Federal Reserve Bank of New York followed by UNCTAD where he was Director of the divisions of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation, and UNCTAD`s Special Programs. Published over 100 professional papers.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Problematique of Transition from the Arab Spring to Democracy: Issues and Problems

                                           
                       
  The Problematique of Transition from the Arab Spring to Democracy: Issues and Problems

                                          By

                          Dr. Michael Sakbani*

As 2012 passes mid-point, the time has come to evaluate the transition from the Arab Spring to Democracy. It is time to ask whether the revolutions that sprang up in the Arab streets have opened the road to real changes in the way the Arab world has been governed, or, have changed a set of dysfunctional regimes with a new constellation of equally dysfunctional ones. Another equally important question is to examine the nature of transitions from totalitarian systems with view to draw up some general conclusions about regime changes and revolutionary expectations.

It is perhaps in order to review the transition underway in the various countries which witnessed revolutions in order to lay empirical basis for our observational principles. However, the uprising of the Arab peoples has not reached its crest; more is yet to come in countries such as Sudan, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco and Iraq[1]. And that is because the Arab Spring is about a historical rejection of systems of governance based on brutal tyranny, failed social and economic policies and clannish inequality.

Tunisia:
The state that lit the spark has had the most matured transition. Tunisia managed to steer its political affairs under three governments, the last of which conducted a transparent free and well organized elections for a Constitutional Assembly. The massive turnout of 90% of eligible voters was an exemplary display of people empowerment. And in the wake of the elections, all the participants accepted the judgment of the ballot box. A coalition government formed by the three biggest blocs is now in charge and a President and Assembly President have been elected from the majority coalition. The transition has been so far rather smooth and promising. In this transition, the biggest challenge is to restart the economy, which depends on tourism and foreign investment and to satisfy the accumulated demands of various groups, in particular the unemployed youth (Sakbani, “a”)[2].

The Tunisian election results produced an Islamist plurality for al Nahda party. Under the wise and moderate leadership of Mr. Rasheed al Ghannoushi, the Nahda party put out an assuring message that the Islamists will play by the Democratic rules and will cooperate with the secular and liberal parties. The remarkable score of the Nahda was widely based. It demonstrated a depth and spread of organization that was not matched by the other parties. In particular, al Nahda had full organization in the country side, where the others were often not present. The triumph of al Nahda is a testimony to the fact that the Islamists were able to maintain their presence and organization under dictatorship. It would be a milestone if al Nahda can present a concrete proof that Islamists can play the political game and accept democratic alternatives and if their management of public affairs breaks away of the inherited givens. Tunisia has the educated cadres and middle class to succeed.  

Egypt:
The Egyptian transition is marked by uncertainty. The Army, which had protected the revolutionaries and eased Mubark out, has proven incapable of running well the transition and of developing a strategic vision for change. The Generals slowed everything down and put in power governments which have failed to run effectively the ship of the state. Neither the economy, nor public security, nor administrative reforms, the three principal problems, have fared well. Part of the reason is the difficulty of transiting from totalitarian practices, with victims, accounts to settle and ingrained but untested notions of political dangers to a free and open arena. This is why the military tried to impose on the process supra constitutional principles to safeguard, in their view, the transition. Unfortunately, the army who has been in power for 59 years seems to believe that ousting President Mubark and stopping his son from succeeding him was all that is needed. Changing the regime with all its fixtures is rather alien to the military establishment which has over the years accumulated privileges and spread its economic control to a wide swath of the economy. In the eleventh hour, the Supreme Military Council tried ineptly to put its affairs outside civilian and parliamentary controls. But that galvanized opposition from all parties who are frustrated with the military continuation of the repressive practices of the Mubarak regime.

The transition locks Egypt into a tripartite struggle among the Army, the Islamists and all the other groups. The Islamists, led by the Muslim Brothers and their putative party of Freedom and Justice, want to exploit the advantages they have: good organization, implantation in the country- side; a record of social service to poor people where government was absent, and, thanks to foreign financial support from the Gulf states, their prosperous financial state, to push for early elections and rather fast constitutional drafting. They have also played opportunistic games with the military to position themselves on the inside track for power. These political games have not succeeded, but have nevertheless forced early elections on the political agenda (Sakbani “b”)[3].

The others are dozens of parties and groups. They have small popular bases and often rudimentary organizations. This is true in particular for the youth who made the revolution. The old Wafd party, the Egyptian Bloc and Mr. Mubark’s National Party might have popular basis. However, their foot- prints and the degree of their effectiveness in the Parliamentary elections proved very limited.

The renewed popular demonstrations seen in November 2011, just a dozen days before the scheduled parliamentary elections on 28 November, pointed to a state of confusion and political disputation. Egypt went on the twenty eighth of November to elections, and that, in our judgment, was a hasty affair; it should have been elections of a chief executive preceded by a new Constitution rather than a legislature. The parliamentary elections were in three stages and the election of a President was scheduled on 23 and 24 of May, 2012 for the first round. These dates left an administrative vacuum for some six months.

The first round of the Parliamentary elections went, on the whole, well and registered impressive turn out, 62%, reaching in some districts 80 % of the eligible voters; something not seen in Egypt in sixty years. There was no violence and no large scale fraud as in Mubark’s time. The long lines were eloquent testimony to the power of mobilization of political empowerment (The Economist, 3 December, 2011)[4]. The Supreme Military Council substituted its armed forces for the discredited forces of the Ministry of Interior, and along with the Judiciary, did a credible job.

The second and third rounds showed less voting participation, but the results seem to be consistent: the Muslim Brothers are the big winners, amassing more than 36 percent of the votes followed by the Salfis’ Nour Party which ranged between 15 to 20 percent of the votes. The liberals, progressives and seculars came in a distant third place. That in effect means that the Islamists rode successfully to power on the revolutionary wave unleashed by the youth. These results must be respected, but they do not auger well for the future of Egypt’s modernization. The drive for building a modern, democratic and liberal society was the motive force of the revolutionaries. The Islamists, especially the Salafis, are not modernizers. They accord a non critical reception of the received heritage; the salafis concept of authenticity is the application of laws, rules, opinions and institutions of the era of the four Khalifs, which took place 1350 years ago and lasted for less than thirty five years (Sakbani,”d”2011)[5]. The Muslim Brothers proved to be opportunists who played on several tunes and marshaled votes among the poor by devices such as food donations, medical help, and petty cash gifts. The Parliament was supposed to leave one third of the seats for independents, but in the event this share was raided by the established parties; thereby depriving the disorganized revolutionaries of any opportunities to be represented. The implication of this schism between the results of the elections and the objectives of the revolutionary youth promises a great deal of tension between revolutionary expectations and political realities. The resultant problems and conflicts must be resolved by building the institutions of the state on nationally inclusive principles and continuing the vigil of public opinion on the evolution and performance of governance.

 At any rate, due to violation of the electoral laws, the Constitutional Court nullified the election of one third of the Constitutional Assembly, which furnished basis for dissolving it by the SMC. The defunct legislator who was empowered to select the Constitution’s drafting committee, tried to replicate its composition in this committee. The Muslim Brothers packed the 100 member committee with Islamists parliamentarians and personalities of similar views. This was challenged by the liberals and the revolutionary youth and several non Islamists resigned their appointments. There was also a serious legal challenge before the constitutional Court, which ruled against the Islamists and the designations were thrown out. At stake is shaping the future of Egypt. It is unacceptable that the winners of one election should speak for all the Egyptians for generations to come; a Constitution is surely a unifying national compact. Thus, Egypt went in May for Presidential elections without a Constitution and without even knowing the prerogatives of the office. In the lead to the Presidential elections, the High Election Commission (HEC) disqualified, for various violations, 10 out of 23 Presidential candidates. And among the disqualified are the main candidates of the Islamists and the old regime. The HEC also disqualified in accordance with a hasty drafted and passed law of exclusion, all those who served in the old regime for the last ten years. The HEC applied the law against General Shafique. However, when the law was challenged before the Constitutional Court, the HEC changed its ruling and allowed his candidacy[6].

The Egyptian scene moved on May 23 and 24 into the presidential elections. In the first round, the turnout was only 46 %. Against all expectations, the two candidates of the Muslim Brothers, Mr. M. Mursi and of the old order, General Shafique, came in first and second place with24.3 % and 23.3 respectively. Thus, only, 47.6 % of the 46 % of the electorate went to the two finalists, certainly a minority of the Egyptians. The other candidates altogether, took a majority of the ballots.

These results threw the contest into a choice between two candidates who do not represent the revolution or carry its aspirations. General Shafique, no matter how respected he might be, is a figure from the military establishment and a face of the old regime. Mr. Mursi is the choice of the Muslim Brothers’ machine which did not officially endorsed the revolution until after it took roots[7]. The MBs are shrouded with doubts about their democratic credentials, and questions regarding their demonstrated opportunism and record of broken promises. Their support of a civil state is still. Their program has no particular economic, social or political merits. Their electoral tactics have seized upon the economic impoverishment of ordinary Egyptians, upon their lack of democratic experience and their religious piety to get their votes. The MB dominated legislator accomplished nothing of importance in its brief life. The Muslim Brothers are in addition experiencing internal dissentions within their ranks. Their old and conservative leadership has alienated their revolutionary allies by trying to dominate everything. But beyond all that, there is a political duality between the MB and the Freedom and Justice Party. There is a political party and an unlicensed secretive movement to which the party pledges allegiance. All of these questions are the stuff of current debate in Egypt. That is why the MB’s vote went down from some 12 million in the legislative to less than 6 million in the presidential.

Egypt had to make a choice between a hammer and hard rock. The Muslim Brothers claimed the mantel of the revolution and appealed to all who did it to vote for their candidate. They dismissed Mr. Shafique as a Trojan horse for the old regime. General Shafique on the other hand, claimed that he was saving the revolution from its usurpers, the MB’s. In the final round, Mr. Mursi won 51.7 % of the votes and was elected President. However, in the lead to the final round, the military promulgated a Supplement to the Constitutional Declaration limiting the prerogatives of the President and placing the military complexes beyond civilian reach. After the dismissal of the legislator, the SMC also assumed its prerogatives till a new Parliament is elected.

After three weeks, Mr. Mursi formed a cabinet of technocrats predominantly of his party and fellow travelors.  His Administration face five major problems: restarting the Egyptian economy and creating jobs for the millions of annual entrants into the labor market; lifting the living standards of the forty percent of Egyptians who live below the poverty line; reestablishing security and the authority of the state; reforming the bureaucracy and the institutions of the old Egyptian state and above all, convincing two thirds of the Egyptians eligible voters, who did not ballot for him, that he will not be a Muslim Brother President but one for all Egyptians.

Early in August, 20012, Mr. Mursi seized upon the attacks of fundamentalists on the Egyptian security forces in Sinai, to sack several generals from key positions. On 12 August, he retired the two senior generals heading the SMC and replaced them by junior ones; a step supported by a wide swath of the Egyptian body politics. However, he also nullified the supplementary constitutional declaration and expanded his authority, a legally contestable act. On 17 August, he followed on by arrogating to himself the legislative powers previously vested in the SMC. As a result, Mr. Mursi has now control over the composition of the Committee which will write the new constitution and unchecked presidential prerogatives. Mr. Mursi's actions have cemented his authority but has equally alarmed many as to the concentration of power in one hand. All of this was done against a background of suing journalists and closing news papers accused of attacking the President. The Muslim Brothers democratic and pluiralistic credentials will be tested in how Mr. Mursi will use his poweres in the days to come.
Egypt’s is a critical revolution in the Arab Spring. Its success or failure is paramount for the prospects of the other Arab revolutions
[8].


Libya:
After nine months of civil war, with widespread devastation and tens of thousands of casualties, the Libyan revolution emerged triumphant from its struggle with Kaddafi and his henchmen. The human and physical reconstruction is immense and costly. However, Libya has the resources and the expertise to effect a successful transition. Its new Government, under the exiled and respected Dr. A.al kibee is now in power but is a government of transition with a limited time period and limited control. The country, despite the tribal fissures, is reasonably unified, and the public services are on the whole gradually recovering. There remain however, four major problems: the collection of the arms still in the hands of the revolutionaries, who on more than one occasion have used them against the state authority and against each other as an instrument of political and local domination. The armed militias who fought against Kaddafi must be brought fast and decisively under the control of the state. If the government proves incapable of doing so, it should seek outside Arab help. The other problem is turning the page on the past and embracing all those who also turn the page; there have been numerous acts of vigilantes’ justice. Another problem is building, virtually from scratch, the institutions of the state and the civil society. The IRC has tried to be national in orientation in order to forestall centrifugal and tribal tendencies. However, some Libyan politicians from the oil rich East and South are trying to exploit its infirmities to create regional entities. And last but not least, is the restarting of the economy and employing the masses of the idle and armed revolutionaries. Libya has all the resources to do that.

The first elections held in July were remarkable: they proceeded with order and produced a moderate coalition free of ideological and provincial views. They also demonstrated that there is a potential cadre of new Libyan leaders capable of leading the transition. Early in August 2012, the Interim Council handed over authority to this elected assembly and Libya thus opened a new page. 

 Yemen
President Saleh ran out of tricks by late November 2011; his tactical skills ran up against his empty strategies. After four tries and three theatrical trapeze-artist performances from him, he signed on 23 of November the Gulf Council initiative as elaborated by the UN special envoy Mr. Omar Khalid. The deal gives President Saleh and all his lieutenants, immunity from persecution. It provides for a transition period with coalition government under Mr. Saleh’s vice president and a prime minister from the opposition. There are provisions on restructuring the armed forces and presidential elections in 90 days together with eventual new Constitution. The Yemeni established opposition parties signed the counterparty, but the youth, who manned and led the street protests, find many details unacceptable. Moreover, President Saleh and his family will still be a part of the new order through their party and associates in the administration and the military. Will they really fulfill what they promised? Another open question is how and who will control and reorganize the army? Finally, will the youth abide by the deal? Mr. Saleh has a long record of wiggling out of agreements and there is no guarantee he would not do so again. On the other hand, the youth are genuinely not reconciled to the immunities granted to Mr. Saleh and they still march in the streets.

Yemen is a tribal society with North –South divide and an unsettled political system. It is a miracle that the popular revolution has been peaceful and bore little national fissures. Mr. Saleh is out after 33 years, but his supporters have to be accommodated and cannot be excluded. The Gulf states’ compromise has put limit to Mr. Saleh presidency, got him out and replaced him with his Vice President A.Mansur-Hadi, the unique compromise candidate. It was not ideal, but better than the continued violence.

 Yemen needed a grand compromise for attaining peace. It is in a desperate economic state and in fundamental need of modernization (Sakbani “b”)[9]. It needs investments in its infrastructure especially the energy and transport sectors, it needs investments in all kinds of social services and it needs job creation to deal with its fifty percent unemployment. Among others, the Saudis and the US, the two backstage players, should extend to Yemen every help they can. The Gulf Initiative, blessed by both, is a start for a long march for a complex and difficult country. Yet, in one respect, political plurality, Yemen has more experience than other Arab countries. What is needed politically is to check the separatist tendencies by creating institutional structures which can intermediate between the central state and the local citizenry. Mr. Mansour- Hadi took over in April, but had immediately to deal with an explosive security situation in the areas occupied by the al Qaida in the South and troubles with Houties in the North.

  Syria

The terribly disappointing Mr. Assad declined entry into history’s hall of merit. He has unfathomably tied himself to the security apparatus of his father and the shackles of the Assad clan. All of his troubles could have been avoided if he had acknowledged the obvious problems of Syria and took advantage of his then popularity to lead the reform. Syria has had a dismal record of political repression, absence of freedoms, humiliation and injustice visited upon large segments of the society by clannish domination. It has also had poor economic growth, impoverishment of 60% of its population, absence of modernization and social development and deterioration in the standards of education and scientific progress (Sakbani “a” &”b”)[10]. Indeed it is remarkable how much slack its people had cut for the regime. Instead of waking up to this record at the very beginning of the troubles, the government sank into denial and opted unequivocally for a security solution. The regime’s beneficiaries and power centers proved quite resistant to abandoning power and losing their privileges and showed no disposition towards popular legitimacy and participation. Instead, they unleashed the Army- particularly, divisions staffed on sectarian lines, the regime thugs known as Shabbiha, and the dreadful security apparatuses (there are more than seventeen of them) on the peaceful demonstrators. The violence of the regime turned what started in Daraa as peaceful popular demands for reforms, dignity and social justice into revolutionary demands for regime change. In the Nine months through December 2011, the regime killed, according to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, more than 5000 people including 378 children[11]. The investigative Commission sent by the UNHRC reported that 14000 were under arrest. The Syrian NIC says that 130,000 have been arrested from March to December 2011. The UNHR commission reports documented instances of abuse, torture and mutilation[12]. There were also about 3000 people unaccounted for. Many of those are probably dead. In addition, some 130,000 people had fled their homes or ran to neighboring countries.

This blood bath is licensed by the regime under the narrative of an outside conspiracy and Western-Zionist plot employing armed bands. It would be naïve and counterfactual not to note that Mr. Assad has regional and international opponents quite determined to dislodge Syria from its opposition to their plans for the region. The most vehement official criticism in the Arab World has come from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of whom have close links to the US and are unhappy with Syria’s alliance with Iran. Ironically, the governments of these countries are far from acceptable models for democracy and human rights. And the Western sudden care about human rights in Syria and Democracy for its people is hypocrisy masking their real aim; Iran. Nonetheless, the bloodshed in Syria is an infamous abomination deserving of universal condemnation regardless of who voices it. There is no doubt that some armed bands are exploiting the popular uprising and attacking the security forces. But all of that neither justifies the regime violence nor diminishes the legitimacy of the popular demands for change. Syria’s one party dictatorship and the repressive totalitarianism practiced over the past fifty four years have no place in the 21st century.  Moreover, the way to deal with armed bands is not by training long range artillery, attack gunships and tank guns on populated places, and most certainly not by cutting off essential supplies and denying medical care to the injured. These surely are acts of programmed brutal terror.

 The narrative of the regime sets aside the sensible observation that no conspiracy could have moved the masses of millions involved in the Arab Spring; Syria is not different in this respect to the others. It is a known fact that the Arab revolutions surprised everybody, and nobody had time to conspire. These mass movements addressed the historical grievances of people left behind who finally faced up to the comprehensive failures of their rulers.

The regime’s narrative is contradicted by so many other observations. One observes that there were no casualties in the numerous demonstrations supporting the regime, but scores of them in the anti regime demonstrations. Videos disseminated by the Media show armed soldiers wearing Syrian military uniforms, tanks and sharp shooters, all firing on and abusing people. Is not it logical to wonder why the armed bands did not attack the regime supporters? In the cases when the security forces withdrew from areas, like Hama for a couple of weeks, there were no casualties reported. To be sure, there are several hundred casualties among the regime forces. But a revolution which ran for 7 to 8 months with thousands of casualties could not continue to be peaceful. At some point, some people had to defend themselves, some armed soldiers joined the revolution and the regime forces sustained casualties; the violence of the regime regrettably elicited counter violence.

The narrative of the regime can be objectively tested if it were to allow free entry and unhampered operation to the press or any other neutral observers, but it has persistently refused to do so.

Mr. Assad has been in power for ten years and has had a meager record of achievement and hardly any political reforms (sakbani,”a”)[13]. He has promised reforms and changes under his rule, but in ten years implemented hardly any. He is now promising reforms and issuing new constitution, new laws and electing a new parliament while maintaining power and continuing security repressions. In view of his record and the entrenched interests of the regime’s beneficiary and ruling circle around him, his promises ring hallow and his actions lack credibility. He has to accept the evidence that Syria cannot continue to be ruled as before and acknowledge the indigenous reality of the revolution.

 Syria is now under severe economic sanctions which will, in the medium run, cripple its weak and inefficient economy (Sakbani “a”)[14]. By June 2012, its reserves were at a fifth of their prior size, its currency at half its previous exchange rate and its petroleum exports at about nil. It is politically isolated and fatally weakened in the region. If a compromise solution is not found, the conflict will result in a failed state situation and a prolonged contestation will destroy the national- social fabric. No neighbor would be happier for that than Israel.

From the Arab league Initiative to the UN Security Council and the Annan- Ibrahimi missions

After eight months of silence, the Arab League perhaps in part fearing the Arab public opinion revived by the Arab Spring, and following in part, outside influence hostile to the Syrian regime, tried to throw an Arab safety rope by proposing in the second half of November, an Arab Initiative. The Initiative called for stopping the bloodshed; withdrawing the Army to its barracks; releasing political prisoners; allowing peaceful demonstrations and free entry for the press and non- governmental organizations. In return, the opposition would open a dialogue with the regime for a peaceful resolution. Both the Syrian Government and Opposition accepted the Arab Initiative. On the ground however, the regime flouted the agreement and inflicted more than a thousand deaths in the six weeks after launching this Arab initiative. 

After exhausting the Arab league repeated deadlines, Syria was effectively given an ultimatum on 24 November to sign and accept a new Arab league compromise very similar to the Initiative. But the new deadline passed without response.  Hence, the Arab Social and Economic Council met on November 26 at the level of Finance Ministers and decided a bundle of economic and financial sanctions against Syria. That was followed on 29 November by a meeting of the Foreign Ministers which confirmed these sanctions and added political ones as well. In mid December, the Syrian Government finally signed a negotiated protocol with the Arab League allowing a reduced number of observers (160) to enter to monitor the application of the Arab Initiative. But the observers’ mission proved ineffective, as 970 more people were killed by the end of January 2012.

The Arab League`s Ministers grappling with the unending bloodshed suggested on 22 January a compromise for Syria along the lines of the Yemeni solution. The proposal calls for President Assad to step aside delegating to his Vice- President (or any other figure of the regime) full authority to negotiate with the opposition to form a national unity government headed by an opposition figure, which would in short time call for the election of a Constitutional Assembly, under appropriate guarantees and supervision. This was promptly rejected by Syria, whose foreign Minister announced on 23 January, the end of Arab solutions. In the event, the next logical step was that the Arab League referred its proposal to the UN Security Council.

While all these international verbal and diplomatic maneuvers were taking place, the violence escalated greatly in February and March pushing the death toll by late March, according to the UN, to more than 9,000[15]. These diplomatic maneuvers also convinced the Syrian officials that the international community is divided and will take no military action and that it is in the interest of the regime to convert the Syrian revolution from a populous contestation for democracy and justice to an international power game.

The Arab League proposal could have opened the way towards a negotiated solution by all parties. But the Syrian government would not negotiate regime change and accept the sidelining of Mr. Assad. The regime insists on its legitimacy and has yet to accept any legitimacy for the opposition. It is trapped by fear of the majority and maintains that it protects the various minorities, a stand that implies sectarian identity. The regime went further in February by proposing a Constitution for Syria, written by the regime and submitted to a popular vote without prior discussion or public debate. It was approved on 26 February, by half of the electorate right in the midst of the escalating bloodshed. The Syrian government conducted, supervised and sorted out the results on its own without presence of any international observers. Such violation of proper forms only increases the non credibility of the regime[16]. It went further on 6 May and organized Parliamentary elections, for which the new parties were hardly prepared. The new Parliament has new faces, but is still overwhelmingly dominated by the Baath Party and its first and only action was to elect a Baathist speaker. As this Parliament went into work, a massacre of 108 people took place in Hula, Homs. Not one member of this parliament rose to question the government about the massacres reported in all the international media.

 The opposition has not been successful in the international game, largely because of its divisions and quarrels, nor has it been effective in its coordination with what is going on inside Syria. It stands certainly behind the curve set by the brave and determined Syrian people. To be credible and effective, it has to compose its differences and present a unified front with viable strategy and a detailed program. Indeed, both the Arab League, the French government, Turkey and even Russia have opened dialogue with opposition groups and urged them to unite (Economist, November 12)[17]. On 27 March, 2012, under pressure from so many corners, several opposition groups issued a widely agreed set of principles for future Syria. But, the opposition still did not succeed in unifying all its factions under one umbrella.  

The UN Security Council seized with the Syrian situation at the beginning of February. An Arab Western draft resolution was extensively negotiated to secure Russian and Chinese approval. But despite watering down so many of the provisions of the initial draft, the Russians and Chinese still vetoed the resolution against the unanimity of the other members. That was a clear failure of the UN Security Council, and an equal one of Arab diplomacy. The recourse to the SC was tried three times and was broken by the the Russian and Chinese vetos.

The international community, however, did not stop at the Security Council failure. In February, an overwhelming majority of 140 UN members approved a General Assembly resolution condemning the government actions and calling for a stop to bloodshed along the lines of the Arab League compromise. President Sarkozy, announced on 5 February the creation of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People to pursue and coordinate action against the Syrian regime. The group met on 24 February in Tunis and again in Istanbul on 2 April. Despite the supportive rhetoric and the presence of 52 foreign ministers, no concrete decisions came out.

Against this international stalemate and as violence escalated greatly in Homs and Idleb, the UN and the Arab league and the permanent members of, the Security Council named the former UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan, as mediator to find a political solution. Mr. Annan started his mission on 7 March. After meeting the Arab Foreign Ministers and the Russian Foreign Minister gathered in Cairo, he travelled to Syria and met with Mr. Assad. He revealed that he put forward a six point proposal, five of which points are replicas of the Arab initiative proposals and the additional one concerns humanitarian relief for the population, and the injured. Despite favorable Syrian declarations supporting the mission, the Syrian president did not initially agree to stop the military violence unless all opposition groups lay down their arms and surrender to the government, a non starter altogether. Subsequently, Syria accepted a truce enforced by UN armed observers.

 In a demonstration of support for Mr. Annan, the Security Council issued on 21 March a unanimously approved presidential statement calling on Syria and the opposition to cooperate and support Mr. Annan’s mission. Moreover, in mid April, the Security Council passed a unanimous resolution authorizing sending three hundred observers to monitor compliance with Mr. Annan’s plan. Sadly, since Mr. Annan started his mission, 3600 more Syrians had been killed by June 20th; bringing the total to 14200 according to UN sources and 16400 by opposition sources. A very disturbing development is the appearance on the scene of suicide bombings bearing all the marks of al Qaida. The prolonged conflict is allowing such third parties to add to the chaos and threatens the future of Syria. Under the eyes of the UN observers, the international media has reported daily bombardments and tank operations all over Syria. Mr. Annan’s mission in fact, has achieved no results and has been used by the Western power as an excuse for not acting and by the regime and its Russian and Chinese allies as a cover to give more time for the government. 

Meanwhile, the bloodshed continued unabated on the ground. The UN human Rights Commission issued on 24 May a frank documented report explicitly accusing the Syrian Government forces of committing programmed crimes against unarmed civilians[18]. In a similar vein, General Robert Mood the Danish commander of the UN observers stated in a press Conference that on 24 May, the village of Tal daod in the Hula area, north-west of Homs, was shelled during the night by artillery and tanks and 52 children bellow the age of 10, were among the 108 civilians killed. The daily average of civilian casualties during Mr. Annan’s mission is higher than before it. Yet, the international community is frozen into indecision. Part of the reason is the indecision of the US and the European Union. The US is hampered by its economic situation and the presidential elections as well as by the apparent Israeli indecision about choosing the devil they know over the one they do not. It also is worried about the type of regime that will succeed Mr. Assad. Similarly, the Europeans have their economic problems and the habit of talking instead of acting. Turkey is unwilling to go it alone, while the Arab states, long on promises and verbal support, are short on mustering the power to face Syria. Meanwhile, the stoic and brave Syrian people are left alone to face the wrath of a regime that seems to stop at no limits and has been repeatedly given one delay after the other.

Where are we going with Syria?

 Despite Mr. Annan’s demonstrable failure, his six points might constitute a platform on which, the international Community, the Syrian Opposition and the regional powers might coalesce.

While Mr. Assad might still be supported by close to half the population, such support is to a certain extent because of the fear of the unknown alternative. Syria has had 54 years of dictatorships with an empty political system based on one party rule. That was transformed 30 years ago into a clan state. There is no political class who knows how to run a democratic political process and little experience in forging coalitions. This afflicts both the regime and the opposition. In addition, the state institutions have been corrupted by a non meritorious system in which loyalty primes over qualifications. Hence, its transition is hobbled by weak institutional set up, which renders change a dangerous adventure. That is why there is a widely shared apprehension of chaos and civil strife after the Assad regime. There is also a dread that democratic choices are inimical to those communities and individuals whose positions are owed to their loyalties and clannish affiliation. The opposition has not dissipated such fears and has not addressed the potential problems by mapping out the topology of the transition. To move the third of the population who supports Mr. Assad because they do not know the alternative to the side of the revolution, the future must be laid out with clear features. While the regime cannot save itself by denial, the opposition cannot gain credibility without due vigilance regarding the treatment of both the political and sectarian minorities by a majority long suppressed and aggrieved; an explicit plan for the transfer of authority is needed. It would seem eminently sensible for the opposition to coalesce behind a reduced form of the Arab League proposal: stopping regime’s the violence, withdrawing the army to its barracks, allowing free demonstrations and free entry of the press to Syria, freeing the prisoners and above all, starting a concrete process of transition to a different political system based on all the requirements of Democracy. Mr. Assad has certainly lost his legitimacy, but he still can hang around in a system built by his father on a web of interlocked interests and protections until the regime breaks off.
At the beginning of August, Mr. Annan finally acknowledged reality and resigned. In his letter to the UN, he cited as causes the “stubborn refusal of the Syrian Government to implement the six point proposal” He also mentioned the increased militarization of the opposition and the failure of the SC to support his mission. Mr. Annan’s mission was doomed from the outset because he equated in the responsibility for the violence between the Syrian government and the opposition; the revolution resorted to arms 9 months after it started. His second mistake was the pursuit of a political transition with a government that has chosen a security solution all along. Finally, he negotiated without the threat of force on behalf of the SC or any other power. Two days later, the UN general Assembly passed with a majority of 133 votes against 12 another resolution, condemning this time the acts of the Syrian Government and repeating verbatim the decision in July of the ministerial committee of the Arab League calling for regime change and offering Mr. Assad a safe exile, again, another resolution with no operative parts. 

 One can envisage five possible scenarios for the future: arming the resistance and mobilizing a muscular response outside the UN which would intervene militarily. This requires having a base of operation in Syria and the use of military force to clear and protect this base and eliminate the regular army’s offensive capacity. Turkey and the Arab states, on their own, can do this if international backing and logistic participation are secured. However, this would destroy the Syrian Army and the state’s security forces bringing forth chaos and possibly civil war. The second scenario is continuing the muddling through until the regime cracks by the full hold of the economic sanctions or as a result of an elicited internal reaction among the senior Army officers to the continuing bloodshed and clear failure of the security solution. That means allowing the Syrian Government to continue killing at will for a while. A third scenario is reaching a deal with Russia and China to change their positions, thereby permitting UN action under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, an unlikely possibility unless the West pays the Russian price. A fourth scenario has been mooted in Washington to the effect that President Obama and the West make a deal with Russia to pursue a compromise political settlement along the lines of the Yemeni solution. This was voiced months ago by the Arab League but rejected by Syria. The idea is to force Syria through the cooperation of Russia and possibly China to accept this compromise. But this may work only with a threat of force or universal sanctions. Moreover, the Yemeni solution does not work in Syria: first of all the regime does not acknowledge the revolution and is still talking about armed traitors. The regime also cannot accept popular legitimacy and a free political process; as a minority regime it does not accept majority rule. After all the spilled the blood, the opposition, cannot accept the continuation of the regime; regime change has understandably become a precondition. The fifth scenario is agreeing on protected corridors or zones enabling humanitarian relief and safe basis for the revolutionaries. This needs serious commitment to enforce no fly zones and to provide advanced weapons to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The West in general and the US in particular wants guarantees and effective control of such weapons; and as long as there is no agreed opposition authority for both the exterior and interior, this would be difficult. However, after what the FSA cleared in and around Aleppo and up to the Turkish border, this has become feasible and manageable if Turkey were to protect by air the freed zones.   
As the violence escalated in June and July bringing the casualties, according to the UN, to 20,000 killed and raining massive destruction upon all Syrian cities, this scenario acquired urgency[19]. Indeed, in July both Damascus and Aleppo joined in good measure the revolution and a critical battle for taking Aleppo was engaged.  On the last day of July, the prominent opposition figure Haytham al Malih announced that he will open consultations to form an interim national unity government and so did the SFA. But as soon as they announced that, various other groups, e.g. the NSC, placed reservations on the idea. Even though all opposition groups agree on the objectives, they seem to bicker on who should do what before they control anything on the ground.

 The UN failure reflects the disunity of the international community which has given the regime one delay after another. After Mr. Annan’s resignation, the Russians and Chinese, with US complicity, designated another mediator, Mr. Lakhdar Ibrahimi to continue Annan’s mission without international observers. This is another doomed mission. The Syrian government cannot withdraw its heavy forces from cities and villages because it would fall. It cannot stop repression and cannot allow demonstrations because it would lose control. Nor will it negotiate peaceful transfer of power, because that would mean the end of the regime. And no opposition can accept Mr. Assad’s continuation in power after having killed 28,000 Syrians and shelled and bombarded hundreds of towns and cities. Mr. Ibrahimi has no threat of force behind his proposals; he is like a hunter with no weapons.
The time has come for the International Community to show its resolve in action. Syria has been paying an exorbitant price in blood and treasure for international inaction. With the changes on the ground of the last months, arming the SFA resistance and securing a base for its operations have become possible and necessary to pressure the regime. It is obvious that the revolutionaries have so far been unable to defeat the regime and equally obvious that the regime has failed in its security solution. Thus, an imposed solution on both sides is the only way to stop the destruction and blood letting. This can be the task for Mr. Ibrahimi if regional and international powers really mean business and lend him real backing.
One still hopes, against the odds, that some wise and cool heads in the regime, in particular senior army officers, can stop this wrecking train and put Syria’s higher interests above other calculations. The regime`s contesters should also remember that there has been no quick passage to democracy from chaos and civil wars; history’s only passages have been through enlightened political compromise which forges a unified national compact with a common strategic vision and a tactical approach going from things to do in the short run to those in the long run.
Syria’s transition to democracy, while inevitable, is becoming costly, bloody and very problematic. Prolongation of this mess is increasing the chances of chaos, civil conflict and fundamentalist Islamists opportunism. It is merciful to bring this conflict to a swift conclusion by doing what both sides have failed to do : negotiate an all inclusive transitive settlment.


     The problèmatique of the transition from totalitarianism to democracy

There is no general political theory for transition to democracy from totalitarian regimes. One can however, discern some pragmatic examples of successful transitions from East Europe and South Africa in formulating guiding principles.

The first is the turning of the page. Transition cannot be done without admitting the crimes and misdeeds of the past regime and meeting out fair punishments for the criminals before courts of law. However, the non indicted followers and supporters of the totalitarian regimes should be given a chance to confess and ask for pardon without punishment. This purges the motives of “revendication”: revenge and catharsis without excluding a part of the population on account of their previous opinions.

The second principle is the need to transform perceptions regarding the role of the state and that of citizens in an open society. The all knowing paternal state induces apathy and dependence in the citizenry. The public passivity and unfamiliarity with democratic practices can be interpreted as lack of readiness for democracy. This is an argument used by dictators and is denuded of any historical relevance. Rather, democracy is learned through practicing it, as have demonstrated the histories of England, the US, Germany, East Europe; Japan and India.

The third principle concerns the performance of the economy during the transition to a functioning market system. The Arab countries have either market economies with loose and failed regulations invested with rampant corruption or inefficient command economies equally corrupt. The experience of Eastern Europe shows that many strata of the society suffer from marginalization and poverty after the down fall of the providential totalitarian state. The passage to a workable market economy has been characterized by high inflation, a substantial drop of the national output and deterioration of the balance of payments. There are also legal and institutional regulatory problems, which take time to resolve. Market systems are generally efficient but not inclusive. Those who are capable of using them will prosper, but those who cannot need measures of social justice and solidarity. Democracy cannot survive and is not worth much without taking care of the basic needs of the population. Hence, the market system should be safeguarded against market failures, social injustice and poverty. This task implies good economic and fiscal management, building up regulatory institutions endowed with competition laws and laws that place limits to economic concentration and monopolies and laying a social safety net. In the short run, unemployment and inflation will be the major problems. A public work program on the infrastructure and help to small businesses would be the most productive responses. But this needs funding and investment. In all countries except Libya, foreign and external Arab support through investment and direct government support will be needed.

The fourth principle concerns the application of the concept of equal citizenry in the context of political plurality. This means protection of minority rights, equality of everybody in all rights and prerogatives and permissibility of political and intellectual differences. By minorities, it is meant political minorities not demographic ones; for when it comes to that, there should be no minorities among people equal in their citizenship. Indeed, in a remarkable poll done for the first time in 12 Arab countries (except in Syria, Yemen and Libya) by the Arab Center for Research and Political Studies, a random sample of 16000 people found that equal citizenship and equal treatment were supported by 72% majority of the Arab people (Masri and Zakaria, 2012)[20]. It is said that Democracy is an institutional package comprising independence of the judiciary, separation of powers, rule of law, protection of human rights, freedom of expression, assembly and association and governance accountability over and beyond mere periodic elections. According to the afore mentioned poll, these same elements are revealed present in the conception of democracy by the Arab masses (ibid.)[21].However, all of that will not take roots without the vigil of a liberal society which accepts and respects dissenting views and examines critically its received values.  In simple words: democracy needs the neutrality of the state and society with respect to all citizens and all points of view and the acceptance of the other.

The fifth principle is to accept that political fragmentation and disorganization are natural short-run consequence of the fall of totalitarianism. In all Eastern Europe, the one party state was replaced by dozens of parties, some of which had not even a platform. Iraq had a hundred parties claiming support and in Egypt dozens of parties contested the elections. In some countries, the Communist parties made a return to power in slightly modified formations. But in a few years, the political process was shaken out and many parties fell by the way side. Stability and peaceful alternation of power emerged among the newly shuffled parties as the modal norm. However, stability and security must obtain in a short order; lest the transition is jeopardized by social unrest. The essential safeguard has been the ability of the public to kick out none performing governments and the continuity of the state institutions, in particular, the security institutions.

The sixth principle is the preparedness of the alternative management to run the state. This requires a mature political class with clear objectives and ability to forge compromises, all in addition to management competence. In the Arab scene, the failure of the nationalist authoritarian regimes left two polar alternatives: the Islamists and the liberals-revolutionary youth. Both of them lack experience to manage the affairs of government. The Islamists have no program of social development. Their economic program is a mixed bag, which on the whole, does not stand analytic and empirical scrutiny. Their political program is not suitable for mixed-faith societies; it violates the principle of equality among all citizenry (Sakbani”e”, 2011)[22]. As long as they believe in the verity of the received traditions from another era; it will be hard for them to break out to the pragmatism required for state management. Besides, their claims to democratic alternation are yet to be tested. The youth and others are disorganized and have yet to develop popular bases and credible programs. Their showings in the elections testify to that. Hence, the transition is fraught with potential strife, mal functioning and slippage. This implies that in addition to rebuilding the state institutions, there is the challenge of managing well the political and economic governance during the transition. It is an open question whether the Islamists` majorities can combine with others to achieve that.

Finally, in the Arab World, where separation of religion and state does not have a significant historical record, it is essential to disentangle the respect and acceptance of religious and ethical values from politicking in the name of religion, i.e. Islamism (Sakbani, “d”)[23]. The Islamists must be judged on their record rather than on their beliefs. The concept of a modern civil state implies equal treatment of all faiths and non permissibility of all barriers based on faith, ethnicity or sectarian affiliation. The poll cited above shows that 72 % of the respondents do not support a role for religious leaders in politics and a similar majority indicated that they deal in full equality across religious and ethnic lines (ibid.)[24]. It is to be recalled that half of the Arab societies have religious minorities and sects and many are ethnic mosaics. Only an inclusive national compact among all and for all can put the various countries on the road to social peace and sustained development. Will the Islamists understand that wining majorities in one election is not valid basis for imposing their views on the future of their societies?

  The political – intellectual contours for transition: new compacts .

The Arab Spring is a Tsunami which has swept away the old order. Despite all the difficulties and slips inherent in the transition, no dictators and absolute Monarch can continue as before. If successful, new structure of governess and modalities of political participation must be wrenched out of the prevailing petrifaction. People will have to be given their due role in running their Governments and conducting public affairs. The success of such a new order is conditioned upon putting in effect political and social compacts based on participation, popular consent, social solidarity and common national interest. The political compact of the new order should in the view of the majority of Arabs, (Masri & Zakaria, 2012)[25], embrace liberal political pluralism based on free association of the sovereign citizenry in a modern state. Such a state is based on a national compact and not on family, tribe, ethnicity or historical privilege. In this compact, political legitimacy according to Arab citizens is based on the consent of the public as expressed through the ballot box which allows for the peaceful alternation of power (Ibid.)[26]. But the political compact cannot survive without a consonant social compact to bring about social justice and economic viability. This must be based on equality and social solidarity.  The basic function of the modern state is to give effect these two compacts.

After the 1967 defeat, there came a new paradigm purporting that Arab Nationalism has no basis in history (al Jabri, 2011)[27]. The failed record of the autocratic nationalist leaders was cited as the incontrovertible evidence of the political unreality of the Arab nationalist system (Ajami, 1981)[28]. Indeed, the failed nationalist autocrats have richly earned their disrepute. That however, is a separate issue than the validity of the Arab Nationalist project. In the revolutionary event, the masses of the Arab Spring seemed occupied by their own domestic affairs. However, they displayed on their internet posts, in their blogs, songs and chants Arab solidarity. The Moroccans felt the pain of the Syrians and Egyptians. And the Jordanians and the Yemenis demonstrated for Syria and for Libya. The accomplishments of Tunisia were song in Egypt, and Egypt’s revolution was celebrated in Bahrain and Iraq. These are the expressions of peoples that feel a common destiny and share a common pulse. At this juncture, there might not be a viable Arab national project[29], but there is, despite certain local specificities, one Arab people. Why did the revolutions cascade from one Arab country to another and not to tyrannical African countries to the south? One of the revelations of the findings of the ACRS cited above is the affirmation by more than 85 % of the respondents of belonging to one Arab people and their desire for more Arab solidarity and further cooperation. In our globalized world economy, one does not need to extol the economic and political benefits of a renewed and self interested Arab cooperation. It is incumbent on democratic governments to respond to the underlying nationalist current which ran this time without advocacy or leadership. Will the revolutions presage a revival of the Arab project on new basis?

A major legacy of the Arab Spring is a new found Arab public opinion. This is affirmed by the empirical findings cited above. This public opinion will force on the new democratically elected leaders, independent foreign policy making and a rejection of outside intervention. Such leaders will know, perhaps for the first time in modern Arab history, that their policies with respect to national problems and issues must reflect the Arab public opinion (the so called Arab Street) at the risk of losing their jobs. There will be no more phone calls to and from Washington and other capitals as a part of the daily agenda of a single leader; rather, it will be state institutions which make decisions. The US and Europe have dominated the Arab World for a long time. Democracy based on public opinion will not sit well with such a history. The West has two objectives in the Arab World: controlling oil and protecting Israel`s interests. Both will be in question under Democratic systems. It will be interesting to see whether the West is really true to its espoused values.

The development of Arab public opinion might transform the hapless and dysfunctional Arab League. We have just seen under the pressure of public opinion, glimmers of revived nerves in the much delayed position of the Arab League on Syria. To be sure, there might be some foreign interests hostile to the Syrian regime behind that, but there is, nonetheless, the beginning of a people’s League to replace the regimes’ League.  Foreign policy independence will affect many issues, the first of which is Palestine, the investments of Arab capital in foreign lands and accountability of governance. Another influence will play out in checking and influencing the regional agendas of both neighbors and foreign powers long used to an Arab vacuum. In the long run, the Arab revolutions will remove the Arab vacuum. But in the short run, the conflicts of interests and influences among foreign players in the region will depend on the speed with which stability and effective governance can be established. Before the new systems can deal with others, they have to be liberated from the urgency of their domestic affairs.

Some commentators express fears about the chaos of the transition, about the opportunistic electoral ascendance of the Islamists, the poor representation of the youth-half the population-, about the performance of the economies and the continuation of the dysfunctional bureaucracies. Articulating a vision of a new Arab project is the job of the intellectuals. But, these were eliminated, co-opted by the regimes or exiled away. The desertification of the Intellectual landscape brought about by the Arab autocracies, has made the Arab Spring a non prepared venture into the unknown. Others believe that a grand conspiracy is behind all that has happened and the Arab Spring will dissolve into a harsh winter. Such fears may have some basis in facts; and the conspiracy proponents might weave scenarios of the designs of Israel and the West which are plausible. But that plausibility is only a matter of intentions; the West and Israel can do nothing in the current event. In the final analysis, the massive popular uprisings were historical movements just too big for any conspirators to plan; they surprised everybody everywhere. Those anxious about what will unfold should ask a series of questions: were the dictators successful? Were people better off under repressive totalitarianism? Was there a rosy future in the works? Can non performing governments last in democracy the way they do in autocracy?

The electoral successes of the Islamists engender apprehensions in many circles. It is not their accession to power that is worrisome, rather, their doubted ability to be partners in the modernization and development of the Arab societies. The male dominated Arab societies are largely traditional, have little place for women equality, and suffer deficits in economic and cultural developments[30]. Will the vista of Islamists, so bound to received traditions, accommodate the exigencies of an Arab renewal?

Revolutions are not tidy affairs; they are undisciplined, in the Arab case leaderless and unorganized, and their programs, if any, are not tested on the ground. Thus, it is necessary to keep revolutionary vigilance regarding the institutions and practices which emerge from them. The French revolution alternated the order of the Bastille with Napoleonic imperialism. Because revolutionary vigilance was absent, it took 55 years for the “Republican” institutions to stabilize. In Turkey, the modern Turkish republic took about 70 years to emerge as a viable democracy. One should grant the Arab revolutions their historical due time, which will hopefully not be measured in decades. With a vigilant public opinion, Democracy will make it possible to eliminate dysfunction. In this regard, the Islamists have to face up to the challenges ahead and to the potential revolt against any nonperformance on their part. And remarkably, this is what the Arab population thinks according to the empirical findings of the Arab Studies Center.

May be one of the casualties of the revolutions will be the theory of conspiracy, an expression of powerlessness, self non reliance and escapism from empirical evidence. In the world of conspiracy, everything is possible and equally likely. Facts, evidence and sensible pondering of alternatives have no place as opaqueness becomes the order of the day. The Arab Spring has empowered people to be the masters of their own destiny. It should also empower their appraisal of the facts surrounding them.

(Geneva, 4/8/12.)

*Professor of Finance and Economics, the Herbert Walker School of Business, Webster university-Geneva; former Director of the divisions of Economic Cooperation, Poverty alleviation and UNCTAD Special Programs, UNCTAD-Geneva; Senior consultant to the UN system, the EU  and Suisse banks.




NOTES
[1] Morocco, which has seen constitutional changes and legislative elections, is left out due to the limitation of the scope of this paper. The same holds for Iraq. The interested reader can see for details, Michael sakbani, Iraq; the Epilogue of a Tragic Decision,  in www.michaelsakbani.blogspot .com, August 2010.
[2] For a detailed and documented analysis see: Michael Sakbani (a), “The Revolutions of the Arab Spring; are democracy, development and modernization at the gate”, Journal of Contemporary Arab Affairs, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2011.
[3]  Michael  Sakbani (b), The Revolutions of the Arab Spring Four Months After: an Update in www.michaelsakbani.blogspot.com, July, 2011
[4] The Economist, December 3, 2011.
[5] For a detailed and documented discussion of the Islamist political current see: Michael Sakbani, Fundamental Islamic Militancy; a Phenomenon of Religious Schism and Regimes Failure’s” in www.michaelsakbani.blogspot.com. December 2011.
6. Various news papers. The legal contention regarding the ruling is that the law should be enforced as long as the High Court has not rendered a decision.
[7] The Muslim Brothers, who had a very long record of political struggle in Egypt, had become in the last two decades pragmatists who sought participating in the political process with the objective of getting into power. While opposing Mr. Mubarak and suffering his repressions, they tried to protect themselves against the violence of the state. When the revolution erupted, they did not join its pioneers and were cautious about its prospects. However, they did allow their youth to participate on their own. It was only after the revolution took full popular ampler that they entered the fray as an organization. The revolution, however, would not have succeeded without this late embrace of the MB’s.    
[8]. Sakbani(a), op.cit.
[9] Sakbani (b), op. cit.
[10] Michael Sakbani, (a), op.cit.
[11] Stated in the declaration of the High Commissioner for human rights before the HR Council. AVAZ, a non governmental body, documented from three separate sources, that by 20th of December 2011, 6200 had been killed.
[12] The Economist, Washington Post and New York Times, various issues
[13] Sakbani,”a” and “b”, Op. Cit.
[14] Michael Sakbani, (b), Op. Cit.
[15] Declaration of the High Commissioner for human rights in the annual Geneva Conference on 27 February, 2012 and declarations of the UN on 26 March.
[16]  It is not within the scope of this paper to examine the new Constitution. However, a quick reading reveals extensive powers and protections for the President. Mr. Assad can continue beyond 2014 for 12 more years. There is also a lack of proper separation of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary and unacceptable sobs to religious inequity.
[17] The Economist, December 3, 2011.
[18] See CNN, BBC, BBC World, Aljazeera and all news media on 24/5/12.
[19] The Economist , July 28, 2012, pp.30-31.
[20] The Arab Center for Research and Political Studies conducted a pioneering study on the political, religious, sociological and ideological popular attitudes after the Arab Spring. The study drew on a stratified random sample of 16 thousand respondents in 12 countries whose population comprises 83 % of the total Arab population. The results are now published by the Center, and were the subject of an hour- long TV interview on al Jazeera on 5/3/12. Two of the authors, Dr. Muhammad al Masri and Professor Khudr Zakaria introduced a wealth of findings about Arab popular attitudes regarding democracy and its contents, on Islam`s role in politics, on the popular identity and on the desired type of system, which all reveal a remarkably progressive and modern attitudes among the populous.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Michael Sakbani, Fundamental Islamic Militancy, Op. Cit.
[23] Michael Sakbani (d), Islamic Militancy and the the Failure of Modernization and Development in the Arab World. In www.michaelsakbani. blogspot.com, 2007.
[24] Masri and Zakaria, Op. Cit.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] The late Moroccan philosopher Mohammad Abed al Jabri argued, with great erudition, that there is no Arab nation but an Arab program. A propos the advocates of authenticity such as the Islamists, he drew a sharp distinction between authentic inherited values and the Heritage, a socio-cultural whole at any given epoch. He goes on to argue that the Arabs have no choice if they want to modernize other than the contemporary heritage of the global civilization dominated by the West. See Mohammad Abed Jabri, Critique de la Raisonment Arab, This work was translated into English by I. B. Tauris, Formation of Arab Reason: text, traditions and the construction of Modernity in the Arab World, Contemporary Arab scholarship in the Social Sciences, London, 2011.
[28] Fouad Ajami, the Arab Predicament, John Hopkins University Press, 1981. Ajami is one of many who hold the political view that the Arab Nationalist system was effectively replaced by the state system after the 1967 defeat. This view point negates the Pan Arab project because of the failures of the nationalist leaders.
[29] The Center of Arab Unity Studies (CAUS) and the Congress of Arab Nationalists have appraised the failures of the nationalist regimes. They formulated in the early 1990’s six principles for the Nationalist Project and commissioned numerous studies of each of these aspects. For details see the publications of CAUS-Beirut on this matter.   
[30] Sakbani, « a », op.cit.