Actually, the hope for Syria was not in vain because apart from the age gap there are other noteworthy differences between Bashar and his father in terms of worldview, political perceptions and the approach to social problems. However, for these differences to lead to rooted reform in political culture and administration, external developments are also expected to play a role. Unfortunately, Syria did not have this chance. Sometimes young people coming to power is not enough to bring positive dynamism to the regime. On the contrary, this may lead to more suffocating elements than the practices already taking place. Anyone who closely follows the rather complicated region that is the Middle East can see that no change was to occur without pain or even bloodshed. This has already had visible indications both because this was the first time the government in a republic descended from father to son like in a dynasty and also because the Syrian deep state as the core of the government controlled all of Syria by keeping close tabs on everything that was going on in the country.
A common view is that religious monarchies and military dictatorships in the Middle East are fed on the historical and social sources of this region. Some orientalists and Islamologists like holding Islam responsible for them. They adapt the relationship established between Islam and science by Ernest Renan in the 19th century to the relationship between Islam and politics and they put forward that Islam is not compatible with democratic politics. No doubt this is a thesis with no realistic foundation. If we are to consider this view in relation to an older understanding, we can detect deep traces of “eastern despotism,” a sophistry which even Karl Marx seized with great eagerness.
Moroccan philosopher Mohammed Abed al-Jabri states that essential internal factors that keep these regimes going are “creed,” which constructs the paradigm, the phenomenon that the economy is dependent on “spoils,” and that the socio-political attachment is dependent on “tribalism.” The “tribe, spoils and faith” trinity represents the three-fold basis of the political mind of the Arab Muslim. Surely this has a degree of reality. However, many social scientists and Islamologists studying social shift and political movements occurring in the Middle East think issues related to internal factors play only “influential roles” in the new social and global stage that we are in. This is because “faith” regenerates itself; spoils that represent a share system of closed economies are being shaken by the market; and social migration and urbanization are leading to new social forms in tribal relations. Although crucial, al-Jabri’s conceptual framework needs criticizing.
Over time basic political and cultural codes change their initial form and end up with new forms within the material-concrete circumstances of time. The code itself wants to remain in the new form but time and concrete circumstances transform it. Under the conditions prevalent in the Middle East, the codes of “tribe and spoils” are undergoing such a transformation. As for “faith,” it continues to resist the form, and concrete and external influences. When considered in this respect, among the three codes put forward by al-Jabri, “faith” should be separated from “tribe and spoils.” It is only the “faith” that can resist against time; reject what is imposed on it; and generate a form that is suitable for its soul, aim and target. And the strength and source of the creed in the Islamic world are based on the fundamental frames of reference of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah (the deeds of the Prophet Muhammad). What faith needs is the emergence of scholars and intellectuals who will understand and express it correctly.