Before the Middle East unrest, most people in the West did know too much about the regimes in that region. Now that protests have brought some of these regimes to attention, their absurdities are revealed.
Syria is a good example of this.
According to the Associated Press, after enduring a week of outcry from protesters, the ruling regime of Bashar al-Assad said it would finally consider lifting the country's ongoing Emergency Law, which was enacted 48 years ago.
Under this rule, opposition political movements are forbidden and quickly crushed by the ability of the government to arrest dissidents at will.
The justification for the Emergency Law is state security and the state of war with Israel (Syria and Israel have a history of conflicts, but to say that the countries have been at war for 48 years is false).
From 1963 until now, Syria has had only 2 presidents: the deceased Hafiz al-Assad and his son Bashar al-Assad. Both were appointed by referendums that offered no opposing candidates.
That Syria’s regime pretends to be anything but an iron-fisted dictatorship is absurd.
Every Syrian knows that the Emergency Law is designed to keep a lid on dissidents at home rather than for security reasons against foreign powers.
The presidential office of Syria clearly isn’t elected by the people; it was passed on from father to son.
People in Syria surely realize the absurdities of this ruling regime and its unconvincing pretense of democracy.
An interesting point to ponder is what Syrians think of the West’s perception of their country’s situation.
Before the protests, most Westerners probably didn’t know anything about Syria.
Now, more and more people are seeing the absurdity of the current regime.
Tunisians, who overthrew their former dictator back in January, knew of the absurdities of his regime.
However, they weren’t sure about the West. Then, cables published by Wikileaks revealed that the US government also knew what was going on there.
When Tunisians realized that others knew of their absurd situation, they were simultaneously embarrassed about their country and emboldened to demand change, according to some experts.
The exposure of other absurd Middle East regimes, then, may produce a similar effect.