From Political Cynics to Loyal Partisan Rebels: The Syrian Case

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INTRODUCTION

The arrest of 15 school children who were inspired by the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt was the straw that broke the strong and patient Syrian camel's back. The domino effect started when some people marched to the streets of the small Syrian town Deraa at March 15, 2011 (BBC 2012). Both the oppositions and loyalists had their aims either to move toward a more democratic country or to repress the demonstrators. Now at this point of time the protesters demand toppling the regime and the execution of the president, but the Syrian regime is trying everything to frighten, spread a negative propaganda and isolate the pro-democracy demonstrators from the outside world (BBC 2012). All for the sake of sustaining for the longest time possible and without any compromise, because what the pro-democracy protesters demands could topple the regime in one way or another (Fisk 2011). From the government perspective there are us and them, whoever demands more democratic constitution are them and this type of people are conspirators, outsiders, germs, armed ganged, and terrorists. As the Assad of Syria for the last decade has established the image of 'rejectionists' for the foreign affaire polices of the country it seems that he is using the same platform in dealing with the protesters, by rejecting their existence.

Political groups on social networking sites have been a key political issue in many Middle Eastern countries. This may be due to the political and psychographic environments of this region; it can be a political discussion arena, and that the act leads the actor(s) to be politically cynical public with high political sophistication and efficacy (CPHPSE). CPHPSE can be defined as a group of individuals who (1) doubt and distrust the intention of their governments; (2) interested and knowledgeable politically; and (3) they feel that their individual actions can and have an impact on the political process. Building on the assumption that partisan rebels in Syria are CPHPSE, the current study aims to (1) build a model that relates political cynicism, sophistication and efficacy with rebel loyalty; and (2) demonstrate the moderating effect of the brand credibility of an opposition party on the rebel loyalty provoked by the endorser's credibility. Achieving these two goals will enable the researchers to identify the effect of the brand image, equity and credibility of an opposition party on the rebels' loyalty through the different routes of influence that the model proposes.

Zakaria (2011) argued that "Today's information technology has the effect of breaking down hierarchies and monopolies. That's got to be good for the individual, and it must be bad for dictatorships". Furthermore, the finding of Weiwu, Thomas, Trent, and Shannon (2010) study revealed that political groups on social networking sites have a positive impact on the public political sophistication and efficacy. The engagement of Syrian CPHPSE with oppositions' political groups on social networking sites could represent a sign of the transformation probability of the CPHPSE to loyal rebels against the Syrian regime.

The political community represents distinguished values, attitudes and beliefs characterizing a political party. Liberty, freedom, majority rule, minority protection, equality, self-government, unity, representation, rule of law, judicial review, separation of powers, secularism, tolerance, individualism, participation, transparency, civil rights and similar concerns are the core values of any democratic institutions (Henderson, 2004). Countries like Syria lack most if not all core values of democracy which make the political groups on the social networking sites a place to fantasize about most of these values. Due to the complexity and the intangibility of the socio-political products offered by an opposition party, studying a particular party's socio-political product can be well-nigh impossible (Egan, 1999). …