Facebook pages are calling for a Syrian Day of Rage on February 5, demanding an improvement in living standards, respect for human rights, freedom of speech for all Syrian citizens, and greater influence for Syrian youth.
Bashar Assad has been the President of Syria since 2000, and before that his father held the post for three decades. Al Jazeera pointed out, Syria, as one of the primary thorns in the side of US influence in the region, is not Egypt or Tunisia. This president has his own facebook page, and his country has not been accused of being a puppet of the US.
“What happened in Tunisia and Egypt was not just about hunger, it was about national pride,” said Mazen Bilal, the editor of Suria al-Ghad, a political news website familiar with government thinking.
“Syria is another story. Through all the problems it maintained its national stances and its sovereignty and so people are proud of their nation.”
Crucially, as well, the government’s reform of the economy is maintaining a system of support to alleviate the worst effects of poverty.
Today Assad gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he explained, ”We started the reform since I became a president. But the way we look at the reform is different from the way you look at it. For us, you cannot put the horses before the carriage. If you want to start, you have to start with 1, 2, 3, 4… you cannot start with 6 and then go back to one.”
Will that be enough for the protesters in the streets on February 5? ”Perhaps the Saudis will have to build a whole village for Arab presidents once they run out of villas,” joked a taxi driver.