La cultura del miedo y el estancamiento en Siria

No es de sorprender que el nuevo y joven líder de un país árabe esté muy preocupado, durante sus primeros años en el poder, por establecer su legitimidad y su estatura. Al reemplazar a su padre, el presidente Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad, el actual presidente, necesitaba con urgencia demostrar que tenía bajo control la situación de su país, incluso más que otros líderes árabes relativamente nuevos, como el rey Abdullah de Jordania o el rey Muhammad de Marruecos. La selección de Bashar al-Assad como sustituto de su padre, a escasos minutos de la muerte de Assad el 10 de junio del 2000, había dejado atónito al sistema sirio en su conjunto, a pesar de que durante años se había estado preparando a la opinión pública para esta sucesión.

Al no haber logrado presentar un programa claro y efectivo de reformas internas, el joven presidente buscó compensar en el ámbito de las relaciones internacionales sus fallos a nivel nacional. Aquí, el conflicto árabe-israelí le ofreció la oportunidad más visible para establecer sus credenciales de líder, sobre todo después de la elección democrática de Ariel Sahron, un hombre repudiado en el mundo árabe, como nuevo Primer Ministro de Israel.

Durante la reciente Cumbre Arabe en Beirut, el joven Presidente aprovechó la ausencia de los líderes egipcios, libios y palestinos (entre otros) para tocar cuerdas sensibles en el público de Siria y de todo el mundo árabe. Con un estilo bien ensayado y seguro que recordaba a su padre, Bashar al-Assad dirigió un discurso provocativo a sus colegas en el que apoyaba el "derecho a la resistencia" de los palestinos, hacía un llamado a los países árabes para romper sus relaciones con Israel, instaba a la reconciliación entre Iraq y Kuwait y avalaba la iniciativa de paz del príncipe heredero saudí Abdallah.

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