Is Syria Like Egypt and Tunisia?  Interview with Bassam Haddad

Bassam Haddad: The differences between Syria and Egypt and Tunisia are several.  This does not mean that things cannot spin out of control to produce the same effect.  But, structurally speaking, the Syrian society is far more heterogeneous and divided than either the Egyptian or the Tunisian society.  So the opposition is not cohesive.  There are various groups that hail from different regional and communal backgrounds who don’t necessarily see eye to eye.  They will come together in the event of excessive brutal repression that will go beyond what we have seen already, but, until then, it’s very difficult for us to imagine that there will be a Tahrir Square showing like we’ve seen earlier.

On the side of the regime, the Syrian regime, as opposed to the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes, is far more consolidated at the top, in terms of the party, the army, security services, and the top leadership.  So that cohesion cancels out some of the options that were taken in both other cases, where the army had to step in and make decisions.  There’s no such thing in Syria.  There is no possibility of Bashar or anybody in the top leadership leaving Syria to avert crisis.

Bassam S. Haddad is Director of the Middle East Studies Program at George-Mason University.  This interview was broadcast by DemocracyNow! on 28 March 2011 under a Creative Commons license.  The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview.  Cf. Bassam Haddad, “Why Syria Is Not Next . . . So Far” (Jadaliyya, 9 March 2011).

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