When I listened to Bashar El-Assad's speech, I first thought that his outside conspiracy accusations were exaggerated. I thought this is classic talk by leaders when they are challenged by their own people.
After all, Mubarak also claimed that the Egypt uprising was also an outside conspiracy. But in his case, he could hardly blame anyone from the outside, Mubarak was like a violent man who beats his wife but is absolutely charming and docile with everybody else except of course his own people and Hezbollah whom he sees as challenging Saudi hegemony. But how could Hezbollah mobilize women and children and millions to protest against him? What we saw in Tahrir square was a genuine popular movement by all classes and age range of the Egyptian society, men and women.
I was thinking recently that this is what is exactly missing in the protests in Syria. The protests in Syria are not reaching a critical mass and are not comprised of men, women, children, and all classes of the Syrian society, from the whole age range. And they are sparse...
Moreover, when I heard recently that Syrian security were shooting at the army because the army refused to shoot at protesters, I thought this is gross propaganda. If you want to intimidate a group, you kill one of them, not in the back, but in the front, and one, not 9! And on Joshua Landis blog, there is a picture of a document supposed to be an order to shoot at the army. The document was sent to the blog's author and it has blood stain. The staging and the fabrications were becoming more and more ridiculous.
There are also the videos circulating on the web and propagated by 'protesters'. I devoted a night watching all of them. I could not believe what I saw, few agitated men shouting and very little information. Most of these videos seem staged.
I believe there is indeed an outside conspiracy in Syria and it is not difficult to imagine who is behind. There are the classic enemies of Bashar himself, Rif'at and Khaddam. There are also enemies in Lebanon who are experienced in sowing sectarian discord and financing militias to spread rumors and kill in the streets. There is also the regional context. The regional context, since the fall of Mubarak is unfavorable to the Saudi-US-Israel axis and tipping in favor of the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran axis. An overthrow of the Syrian regime might give the former axis some gains.
But beside all this, there is clear malaise in Syria and real need for reforms. I am not sure what started first, the opposition expressing this malaise or the agitators. But I believe that given the regional context for a possible sectarian flare that will certainly spread to Lebanon, the real Syrian opposition, the one that vies for reforms and not destruction, has a responsibility. It cannot sit and watch hopping for the balance to tip in their favor. This is destructive not only for Syria and the region but also for the Syrian opposition. If the true opposition in Syria makes itself passively accomplice with conspirators, it discredits itself as a movement representative of the true aspirations of the Syrian people.