One can’t help but get cheery witnessing another torturing dictatorial regime faced with popular revolt. The current Assad, Bashar-al-Assad has ruled Syria since the death of his father Hafez al-Assad, the newer model as vicious as the first. Altogether it has been forty years of iron-fisted control and brutal repression. It’s clear enough that in much of the Arab world once a creep, or a creepy dynasty gets in power, they hang around for quite a while.

This uprising in the Arab world surely is no fluke, and no ephemeral phenomenon. What has spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Bahrain to Libya and now to Syria is all-out revolution, seeking nothing piecemeal and no replacements in name only, but total transformation, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of despots.

Given how long and how static this bloody state of affairs has remained across the Arab world I see no reason for ambivalence toward events themselves or toward those described as rebels from state to state.  Of course, in Know-Nothing quarters of America Arab is just another word for terrorist, and some of the more delicate types in the foreign policy establishment here are aflutter at the “uncertainly” of what may come next. You mean, it could get worse than forty years of exceedingly cruel dictatorship?

The rebels in Syria, like rebels elsewhere are asking, specifically, for “civil rights and freedom,” and “representative government.” To the best of my understanding, we’re for those things here in the USA. Though the Assad clan are Alawites, a branch of Shiites ruling over a Sunni majority, the rebels in Syria, again, like rebels elsewhere denounce any connection to extremist Islam, and have even chanted in the street, “We’re not from the Muslim Brotherhood and we’re not Salafists,” Salafi and Wahhabi being branches of Islam associated with Jihad and al-Qaeda.

Arabs long have been stereotyped as docile in the face of extremists and brutal dictatorships, and chided for their failure to “stand up” to both. Well, they’re standing up. And this isn’t pseudo-radicalism or empty insurrectionary rhetoric, but the real thing: ordinary people rising up literally in the face of lethal force, risking and sacrificing their lives to give the boot to very bad, and very corrupt rulers. I say, three or more cheers!




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