Syria: New Government, Little Hope
By: Wissam Kanaan
Published Monday, June 25, 2012
Syrians are finding it hard to be optimistic after the formation of a new government on Saturday that includes opposition figures. While it’s too soon to judge the new government’s performance, many believe that the regime must undergo more thorough change in order to resolve the deepening crisis.
Haunted by death sweeping most of the Syrian areas – even the heart of the capital – Syrians find themselves engaged in a daily struggle just to meet their minimum needs.
Amid all these events, ordinary people are stuck between declarations about a "zero hour" by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the regime's talk about a strong response.
In the meantime, the regime’s promises of reform produced a new government on Saturday, led by Prime Minister Riyad Hijab – a man credited for being widely active on the ground.
But snap interviews with some Syrians showed only partial optimism by a handful of people.
A physician, who spoke to Al-Akhbar on condition of anonymity, says that some of the new government ministers may have something to offer the country, "especially as I know Hijab’s approach, his intellectual abilities, and about his direct contact with people."
But she acknowledges that "this optimism lasts for a few moments, as it is overtaken by severe pessimism by the majority members of my family due to the people's distrust in any Syrian official, especially as the crisis is escalating."
The doctor explains that the health and medical sector in the country is "full of mistakes that consecutive governments could not radically resolve because corruption is rampant and the problem is so old it needs quite some time to be fixed."
A feeling of hopelessness seems to be the common feature among many people regarding the new government "because the road has come to a dead-end," as Syrian businessman Jihad Qassem tells Al-Akhbar.
"I believe that the thinking of the Syrian regime has not changed and will not change when it comes to managing society," Qassem says.
"For more than 40 years, the regime and its governments have never thought about a development strategy that would improve the lives of its citizens and society," he continues.
Instead, he adds, Syrian governments have focused their efforts on the "imaginary foreign investments or the privatization of some sectors."
Qassem says that the regular people do not benefit from the revenues of these investments "because the profits go to corrupt merchants and officials."
Qassem's friend, a lawyer, says that in light of the despicable international conflict surrounding the Syrian people, they remain the weaker link.
He describes the people as "the card being burned by consecutive governments," saying that the authorities always hold citizens responsible for the government’s mistakes.
"The problem is not about changing faces and names, but in changing how you deal with the people," says Qassem's lawyer friend, who preferred anonymity.
Governments should make it their priority to improve the lives of their citizens and address their problems, he says.
Qassem and his friend come to a common conclusion: No one looks at the new government as a magic wand or Aladdin's magic lamp.
Imad, a taxi driver, becomes angry when asked about what he expects from the new government. He says that the Syrian people did not sign agreements and treaties.
The people "did not give palaces to the Gulf princes, sell their positions, or open their borders to the terrorist mercenaries," Imad insists.
"All the Syrian people ever wanted – and still dream of – is living in dignity on their land," says the taxi driver. "If these ministers are truly from the Syrian people, they should work day and night to restore security to their country and end the crisis."
Meanwhile, the views of politicians are not that different from those of the general public.
Syrian opposition figure Fateh Jamous tells Al-Akhbar that some ministers in the new government might benefit certain segments of society.
But he does not expect the new government to offer anything positive regarding the Syrian crisis.
"In fact, it will contribute to intensifying the crisis, especially as there are opposition parties, such as the Popular Front, that distanced themselves from the popular currents that they created and effectively allied themselves with the regime, ignoring what the concept of opposition means," he says.
On the other hand, Jamous concludes, governments in Syria are run from the presidential palace.
"Therefore, the government will not be useful in resolving the extraordinary and serious political crisis, considering there is no real call for dialogue."
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.