Is Syria a dictatorship

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

In 1989 the wind of democratic change blew in most of the Eastern European countries. The signs pointed to change and heralded the collapse of the Soviet Union, whose system had long since begun to crumble.

The international climate at that time prepared fertile ground for civil protests in East Germany and in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The citizens of the GDR rose up to the "peaceful revolution" and called for the overthrow of the one-party system and the reign of terror of the "State Security Service" (Stasi) - with success: with the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification after 40 years of division, too an era of horror comes to an end.

However, peaceful revolutions are not always crowned with success, as the Syrians, unlike their East German predecessors, had to experience when they rose up against the tyranny of the Assad regime.

The peaceful revolution in Syria, which began in March 2011, gradually developed into an open war within which internal conditions merged with regional and international conflicts in an unfavorable way.

Reasons for the failure of the peaceful revolution in Syria

The main causes of the devastating development of the conflict include the interference of external actors and the excessive use of force by the Assad regime, under which people have been killed, locked away and displaced to this day. Furthermore, terrorist groups sprouted in the course of the conflict, adding their own religious terror to the regime's tyranny. All of this happened and is happening to the detriment of the Syrian civilian population.

There are undoubtedly numerous differences between Syria, its society and its revolution and the situation in East Germany at the time, including in the administrative, economic and educational systems as well as with regard to the living standards of the respective countries. Other distinguishing features are the diversity of ethnic groups and denominations, the role of religion in society and the structure of families and social relationships.

The differences between the two systems cannot be overlooked. One of the specifics of the Assad regime is its gradual development from a despotic regime to a dynastic autocracy of the Assad family, because the clan already held the decisive levers of power in the country at the time it came to power and has been adjusting the screws in Syria to this day.

Common features of authoritarian regimes

Despite all these differences, commonalities can also be identified in authoritarian systems at certain stages of their development. The supposed adaptation of modern ideologies creates a facade, behind which, on closer inspection, a rigid police state emerges. This can be observed both in the case of the German Democratic Republic and in Syria under the rule of the Assad regime and the Baath party.

Authoritarian systems usually have the following two pillars: a political ideology and the general spread of fear and terror, or rather of organized terror on the part of the repressive state apparatus against its citizens.

Arab Spring, Arabellion, Assad regime, democracy and civil society, history of the Near and Middle East, human rights, pan-Arabism | Arab nationalism, right-wing populism, rule of law, social movements
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