Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Trouble with Syria

Let’s first get something out of the way: the Syrian regime is one of the nastier ones in the world, and even by the nasty standards of the Middle East, it excels in its oppressive paranoia. It is thus not at all surprising that a large number of Syrians would rebel against a cliquish government that, just as in neighbouring Iraq in years past, is largely built on the loyalty of a religious minority (in this case, the Alawite one). But the Middle East being what it is, nothing is as it seems at first sight, and one must ask oneself: is the outrage heard in Western and Middle Eastern capitals truly one born out of a bleeding-heart concern for democracy? With absolutist Gulf monarchies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia clamouring for democratisation and human rights, there is more than just a whiff of hypocrisy in the air.