Recently six Persian Gulf states announced that they were withdrawing monitors from Syria who were tasked with seeking a solution to the brutal crackdown of Syrian citizens led by Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical government. These states included Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The solution was very clear. Assad must immediately transfer power to a deputy and that leader would need to form a unity government. Subsequent elections would take place several months after this transfer of power. This is interesting for two reasons. First is the fact that six non-democratic states are calling for another non-democratic state to hold an election. The second and perhaps most telling comes from the reaction of the Assad regime.
The plan was quickly denounced as a “flagrant violation” of Syria’s sovereignty. Such a statement begs to ask the question, “Is Syria sovereign?” The answer is no. So why would Assad make such a statement? His rejection of a plan by foreign governments embodies exactly what his people would like to say to him, “Leave us alone!” He desires to be independent, yet in turn he wants to control his own people. Syria is independent of other countries so of course some may think it is sovereign, but there is more to a country than just its borders. The people of Syria for so long have desired to live in freedom and control their own lives. Within the borders of this country there are no democratic elections, no real multi-party political system, freedom of press or freedom to assemble. The people are not independent. They are not sovereign.
To be a sovereign is to be a supreme ruler. Assad has no one to answer to in the government. He is the tyrant at the top. There are no checks and balances. He controls the military and the security forces. Over the past year he has unleashed the military on his own people, reminding them that they are not citizens but subjects. Thousands of Syrians have been murdered, imprisoned, tortured and many more are missing.
The people across the Middle East have not been gathering in the streets since the Arab Spring began because they desire more oppression. They want to be free. They want to live their lives the way they choose to and no one else. Any government that cracks down and murders its own people is in the midst of a “flagrant violation,” of its people’s sovereignty. Bashar al-Assad should step aside and grant his people what they both desire most; true independence.