Millions of Syrians rallied all over Syria, pledging loyalty to the country, in support of Bashar al-Assad, on 29 March 2011. The dialectic of the regime and the opposition in Syria, it is safe to say, is neither like Tunisia and Egypt, nor like Iraq and Libya. Instead, it is more like what happened in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2009-2010. There are many differences between Syria and Iran, however: E.g., in Syria, the opposition so far is the strongest in Dera’a, a small southwestern city near the border with Jordan, whereas the opposition in Iran was clearly the strongest in northern Tehran. While most Iranian secularists (except a few Marxists) put their faith in the opposition in Iran, most Syrian secularists, as well as religious minorities such as Christians, appear to fear the opposition — especially the suspected influence, and potential rise, of the Muslim Brotherhood — in Syria. And then there is a gender factor. Alone among the Arab regimes that have faced protests since last December, the Syrian Ba’ath regime has put forward women — presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban and Information Ministry spokeswoman Reem Haddad — as its faces and voices on the Arab and international media. Moreover, the president of Syria has a weapon in the obligatory media war accompanying any protest in a geopolitical hotspot these days, which neither any other Arab regime nor the Islamic Republic of Iran can claim: his undeniably charming wife Asma. Perhaps not altogether inconsequential in the age of celebrities. — Ed.
Videos courtesy of Hanan Noura. Cf. Joshua Landis, “Ignatius, Lesch, Seale, Tisdall, Khalaf, Fadel on Assad and Syria” (Syria Comment, 30 March 2011).
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