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Asad Apologists: The Ostrich Syndrome

[Monument commemorating the 1972 Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned countries when it was held in Guyana, 8 - 11 August, 1972. There are four busts sculpted to the likeness of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement: President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Pandit Jawaharlall Nehru of India and President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. Image by Amanda Richards via Flickr] [Monument commemorating the 1972 Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned countries when it was held in Guyana, 8 - 11 August, 1972. There are four busts sculpted to the likeness of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement: President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Pandit Jawaharlall Nehru of India and President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. Image by Amanda Richards via Flickr]

The debate surrounding Syria has stooped very low among self-identified leftists and anti-imperialists. It is high time the discussion moves away from personal attacks, and focuses instead on presenting specific arguments and developing clearer political positions. No group has been as pilloried by all sides as much as the one that has come to be labeled “the third way,” composed of those who are simultaneously opposed to foreign intervention (cheered for by major opposition forces) and the Asad regime. Apologists for the Asad regime, or what have become labeled as “first wayers,” will go to great lengths to discredit “third-way” politics. This essay serves as a rebuttal of apologist arguments. In doing so, the hope is not merely to expose the fallacies of first-way rhetoric, but to also elaborate what a third way might actually mean or entail. The latter is something that has yet to be fully expounded in terms of its principles and consequences.

In their attempt to distort and discredit third-way politics, most first wayers identify the essence of the Asad regime as anti-imperialist, when in reality it is ultranationalist with an anti-Zionist silver lining—a thick lining one might still argue. Sometimes, they invoke Lenin’s critique of third-way politics, with little accompanying class analysis. However, a more apt analogy would be the non-aligned movement of the Cold War era. Apologists will confuse the lack of political power (i.e., the power of decision making) with a lack of political position (i.e., a practical political agenda or plan) and draw a caricature of who is a third wayer as a criticism of last resort.

Anti-Imperialism a la Ba’th: The Secret of Succession

Asad apologists will discuss and debate every single aspect of the Syrian crisis with one exception: the phenomenon of cultish family rule and succession. They will invoke the geopolitics of regional and international rivalries, anti-imperialist struggles, resistance to Zionism, fear of sectarianism, outbreak of civil war, and the rise of Islamism. Asad apologists will also play the numbers game, asserting that the majority of Syrians support the regime, and–rightly—bash the unreliable media coverage across the world. They will even go so far as to explicitly defend Asad himself, in a manner similar to how other Arab rulers were defended. In this vein, they will argue that he is well intentioned, surrounded by a clique of corrupt and conspiring aides, and hence either unaware of the political situation on the ground or unable to change it. Then, when the going gets tough and the ruler himself comes out to reinforce the regime’s unrelenting stance, they will argue that his rule remains favorable compared to that of the opposition or the unknown, never suspecting that tackling succession is itself part of fending off foreign-backed aggression and the unknown.

It is no coincidence then, that Asad apologists have so intentionally ignored the issue of succession. Hereditary succession never was and never will be a source of legitimacy, nor a viable long-term strategy to strengthen national unity and cohesion, all of which are necessary requirements for anti-imperialist resistance.

Succession is the identifying marker that separates Asad from his “resistance” allies and lumps him into the same category as other Arab rulers. When cornered about succession, Asad apologists will compare Asad to Gulf monarchs (unaware perhaps that, at one symbolic level, a royal president in Syria is more scandalous than a petty monarch of an oil shaykhdom). That, however, is the wrong and easy comparison to make. Asad fails the test even according to first-way logic when compared to self-identified anti-imperialist leaders like Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, or even Asad’s closer allies, Hizbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah and Iranian president Mahmud Ahmedinejad. Unlike all of the above, Asad’s ascension to power was no different in form and content from the process governing other Arab states. It is telling that this “anti-imperialist” president had no qualms allowing a Western white journalist like Barbara Walters question him about his coming to power. Such a question by one of his own people would be unthinkable. Some might argue that this is merely a detail, but I say it is a very symbolic one. It goes to the heart of how Arab leaders perceive themselves in relation to their own people vis-à-vis the West.

But even if we grant Asad the benefit of the doubt regarding his ascension to power, what about the actual policies Asad implemented? Are they as socialist and anti-imperialist as Asad apologists would like us to believe? During his first decade of rule, Asad attempted to reverse whatever remained of Ba’thist socialism. He was a much more effective agent of neoliberalism than his father was. Whatever non-neoliberal realities apologists point to, they have nothing to do with the Asad regime. On the contrary, they have managed to survive the regime and were not borne by it. After the eruption of the uprising, Asad apologists—so eager now to fight liberal politics—seem blind to the fact that whatever “reforms” Asad introduced were themselves actually pro-liberal reforms. These include removing the reference to the socialist nature of the regime (a very anti-imperialist move indeed, clearly having everything to do with the fight for Palestine) maintaining the stipulation that the president be a Muslim, and allowing for elections under a multi-party system (i.e., the hallmark of liberal rule).

Furthermore, and early on during his reign, the “nationalist” in Asad seemingly had little qualms implicitly forfeiting the right of Syria to Iskandarun (Alexandretta) in order appease his then-new Turkish ally. In addition, it took Asad eleven years and the eruption of the Syrian uprising to grant thousands of Kurds their rightful Syrian citizenship, proving the move was a ploy to co-opt them out of the uprising and thus reinforcing the notion of the state is subservient to the power of the ruling elite rather than the ruling elite being subservient to the state. This is to say nothing of how the clique of corrupt networks that increasingly took control of the country’s resources grew bolder under his rule. Claiming Asad was ignorant of this clique’s machinations is too naive and false to warrant a response.

By ignoring these “details,” Asad apologists fail to see that the Asad regime’s alliance with anti-US forces in the region has not prevented it from exhibiting the essential features of all the Arab dictatorial regimes: family rule; institutionalized corruption: cultish forms of obedience; and the overexpansion of the police state. All these features undermine the anti-imperialist struggle in subtle but deadly ways.

These issues matter not only in the small (i.e., domestic) picture, but also in the big (i.e., regional) picture. They matter for anyone who keeps invoking geopolitics and long-term resistance as Asad apologists do. According to anti-imperialist logic, structural causes tend to prevail over individual or apparent ones in explaining history. On the basis of such a principle, structures of inequality, oppression, and domination are much more to blame for violence and extremism than are such factors as one’s personal proclivity for violence or extremist ideology (something Asad apologists are so keen to identify among the opposition camp). A comparative analysis of the Asad regime—in relation to its allies in the region—shows that these structures (of inequality, oppression, and domination)—in the case of Syria—are not entirely, even if largely, a product of external imperialist forces. Regimes and groups allied to Asad have arguably suffered a lot more from imperialist pressures but did not endorse the same governance structures adopted by the Ba’th. Since the uprising began, the regime has done nothing to significantly alleviate these problems. In fact, it has taken a more intransigent stance. As such, the destruction of Syria is as much an effect of regime policies as it is of the external forces colluding with internal agents. The silence of first wayers in favor of the regime in the face of the latter’s culpability becomes no better than the raucous of opportunist opposition forces.


Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Colonialism: The Fanon Factor


The regime has not done nearly enough compared to its allies in consolidating its anti-imperialist stance mainly because it is busier consolidating its internal control and dominance. To continue to insist on blanket support for Asad under the pretense of an anti-imperialist stance is to confuse anti-imperialism with blind support for nationalist elites. Furthermore, a refusal to conflate the two is not an invention of “liberal armchair intellectuals” as some first wayers claim. Such a refusal was substantively formulated by one of the pillars of anti-colonial thought, Frantz Fanon, whose name is conspicuously absent from the political lexicon of Asad apologists. Long before neoliberal elites had come to power, Fanon warned against the excesses of nationalist bourgeois elites in using anti-imperialist or anti-colonial discourse to disguise their own comprador role in consolidating imperialist structures of control. Fanon’s analysis might actually help explain why some Arab leftists, who are likely more sensitive to anti-colonial history than international anti-imperialists, are third wayers rather than outright supporters of the regime.

But instead of invoking Fanon, apologists will go so far as to invoke Lenin’s quote about third-party politics, which is really a language trick no different than someone quoting Tony Blair’s own reference to a “third way” in order to undermine third-way politics in Syria. Lenin was at times more than willing to compromise when it came to dealing with imperialist forces (i.e., the Brest Liovsk treaty). In the instance of his critique of third-way politics, the communist leader was actually more concerned with class struggle and contemptuous of those, like liberal socialists, who did not take a firm and uncompromising position in this struggle against the bourgeois class. In fact, a reference that would have better served Asad apologists is Lenin’s disagreement with Rosa Luxemburg over backing the third-world bourgeoisie. Lenin’s critique of third-way politics may thus ironically lend itself more to backing calls for no compromise with Asad, given that the Syrian uprising’s class is largely made up of the countryside peasantry and suburban working class. It is true that the peasantry have a very dubious representation in the intellectual history of Marxism. In the case of Syria, the dominant political expression of their uprising has not only taken on a reactionary form (read “religious” in Marxist terms). It is in fact, contrary to what many pro-uprising folks want us to believe for romantic or more sinister reasons, backed by imperialist and reactionary regional regimes. However, admitting this problematic political expression of the uprising necessitates a third way, not a stance that is apologetic for the Asad regime.

As mentioned above, a much more apt —even if far from perfect—invocation of third-way politics in the Syrian case is the non-aligned movement that spread across the global south during the Cold War. Back then, the Soviet Union was much more anti-imperialist than today’s oligarchy-ruled and market-oriented Russia. Yet, leaders from the global south such as Nasser, Nehru, and Nkrumah recognized the need to chart an independent path of anti-colonial struggle to avoid total dependency on the great powers. A similar—but certainly not identical—logic might well be behind third-way thinking. Syria has turned into a playground for a global power struggle, and the ultimate losers are the Syrian people themselves. One of many crucial differences between the non-aligned movement then and third way politics in Syria today is that the third way in Syria today has remained largely a political position, with little political power to make such a position more concretely visible. Asad apologists fail to make this distinction between the lack of political power and the lack of a political position. To be fair to Asad apologists who complain, one must admit that there is no well-defined articulation of third-way politics. However, such a lacking is a far cry from the caricature portrait of third wayers that apologists have come to draw.

Third Way Thinking: An Elitist Liberal Bunch?


The primary factual misrepresentation of third way politics is of the very makeup of the third way camp. The third way current, we are told, is comprised of intellectuals and activists drawn from academia, non-governmental organizations, and the mainstream media. These are the usual suspects of liberal elitist ideology. It is easy, then, to make all sorts of claims about the privileged and liberal tendencies of this group.

Conveniently excluded in such representations are elements of the Syrian homegrown opposition, the majority of which are non-academic in the classic sense. Some members of this latter group have served years in prison and suffered from torture at the hands of the regime (and for reasons that have nothing to do with liberating Palestine from Zionism or the world from imperialism). Instead of being described as an integral subset of third wayers, Syrian internal opposition elements are portrayed by Asad apologists as a distinct group supported by the third wayers! This makes sure third wayers are seen as merely those engaged in bench politics. It also obscures the possibility that third wayers have an actual political position, possibly similar to the concrete one endorsed and acted upon by the home-grown opposition. In short, what apologists fail to see, or perhaps even hide, is the fact that third wayers are no different from the pro-Asad and dominant opposition camps, with people from all walks of life identifying with one political streak or another.


Throwing in the reference to mainstream media as an outlet of third-way rhetoric is another misleading move. In terms of the media (globally speaking), divisions between third wayers, first wayers, and those problematic elements of the Syrian opposition have little to do with academic backgrounds, NGO affiliations, or other liberal proclivities. This is the case even in an alternative media outlet like Lebanon’s self-identified anti-imperialist paper Al-Akhbar. If anything, the vast majority of mainstream media journalists in the West are uncritical cheerleaders of the rebels and have few qualms with military intervention. As for the Arab media, the bulk of it is Saudi-owned or allied, and parrots Western discourse (at times in even cruder forms). The other (minority) part of Arab media outlets is largely owned or supported by pro-Asad forces or its allies.

Radical third wayers are thus left out to dry when it comes to the media landscape. To demand that third wayers—who are intellectuals, especially leftists—cease being as publically critical as they are is to give them—their egos notwithstanding—more credit in terms of their impact on events while denying them what little role they can play as critical and radical voices in the midst of this crisis. Being critical is not merely done for the sake of being critical, nor is it simply a matter of moral consistency (not that moral consistency is now a crime, is it?) It is equally about a reading of the realities on the ground (both the details and the big picture) and—as argued above—definitely about fighting the anti-imperialism first wayers are so fond of invoking. But a close analysis of first way discourse shows that anti-imperialism is the last thing on the mind of first wayers. In such a discourse, anti-imperialism is a code word for anti-Zionist struggle as crystallized over the last two decades in the form of armed resistance centered in Lebanon, facilitated by Damascus, and backed by Tehran. The two are of course interrelated but not identical. It is best then to name things as they are and agree or disagree over them accordingly.

The Question of Palestine: The Teflon Test


The gist of the arguments advanced by many self-proclaimed, anti-imperialist first wayers is less about the larger questions of anti-imperialism, and ultimately boils down to armed resistance against Israel. To be fair to first wayers, discussion of the Syrian regime’s role in the Palestinian struggle (both by pro and anti-Asad forces) suffers from a total lack of measured and informed analysis wherein the regime comes out as either the be all and end all of resistance or a total sell out. The role of the Syrian regime has changed over the years and to paint it as either an entirely positive or negative one is counterfactual. To invoke what the regime did over thirty years ago, like some leftists do, is polemical and I would argue inaccurate. For the purpose of understanding the current crisis, what counts is its more recent history. Since the Oslo Accords (1993), there is no denial that the Asad regime, for many reasons and regardless of motives, was a pillar of the resistance axis to US and Israeli aggression and imperial/colonial aims in the region. Just as Asad the son was a more effective agent of neoliberal policies compared to his father, one has to admit he was also a bolder supporter of armed resistance in the region.

Consequently, to claim that the Syrian regime is “worthless” to the resistance project is thus another surprising distortion advanced by apologists, as well as some third wayers (i.e., the liberal type). If third wayers did not see any such worth, they would not call for a third way to begin with. In fact, opposing foreign intervention may have a very high cost in terms of human life, given that the regime might be capable of unleashing its full wrath on dissenters in the absence of external restraint. Some third wayers might argue that it is a painful price one has to bear if the issue is indeed about organic revolution, and not either a grand struggle for power or merely saving lives in the short term. A better articulated radical third way stance may help clear out much of these positions. Such a stance means, for example, seeking to overthrow the regime, but not at any cost. It means refusing to engage in “dialogue” with the regime, but accepting negotiations under certain terms that ensure an exit strategy that safeguards the sacrifices of the Syrian people while preventing the usurpation of the uprising by external powers.

Simply stating these general claims is not enough. But neither is burying one’s head in the sand and parroting absolutisms about anti-imperialism like apologists do. Asad apologists are gasping to stop the ebbing tide of a past history. Opposition opportunists are eager to replace that past with a double-faced one masquerading as revolution. The time is ripe for a radical third way to assert itself and engage in a constructive political debate about what has turned out to be the most complex of all the Arab uprisings.

15 comments for "Asad Apologists: The Ostrich Syndrome"

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As an outsider, who has nevertheless sympathized with the Palestinian people for over twenty years, I find this extraordinarily helpful. I also very much appreciate the distinction between internal and external opposition. There is much food for thought here, and although I would like to have seen a more neutral headline, it does appear to be accurate. The critical question: can third wayers become the bridge over the violence?

Maggie Meehan wrote on July 11, 2012 at 10:38 AM
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In 21st century academic debates about the Middle East, is it necessary and relevant to refer to an individual's skin color? Does it matter that Barbara Walters is "white"? Would it be different if the interviewer was Juan Williams or Condoleeza Rice? Do you think Assad's reaction to the question would have been different had it been Ray Suarez of PBS? By the way, what color was Anthony Shadid? And what color is Hala Gorani? Arwa Damon? Ayman Mohyeldin? Come on guys. We are all mature and educated enough to not use xenophobic racist classifications of human beings in our discourse about the Middle East. Thanks.

EdwardAbbeyFaux wrote on July 12, 2012 at 04:44 AM
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This article is based on the false premise that the practice of hereditary rule has not already been ended in Syria, when the new constitution was adopted by the Syrian people. Indeed, no Syrian President can hold more than two terms. If the people don't want Al-Assad, they can simply vote him out. No need for any violence. Also, the article ignores Trotsky's wise words: Imperialism can exist only because there are backward nations on our planet, colonial and semi-colonial countries. The struggle of these oppressed peoples for national unity and independence has a twofold progressive character, since, on the one hand, it prepares favorable conditions of development for their own use, and on the other, it strikes blows at imperialism. Hence, in part, the conclusion that in a war between a civilized imperialist democratic republic and the backward barbarian monarchy of a colonial country, the socialists will be entirely on the side of the oppressed country, notwithstanding its monarchy, and against the oppressor country, notwithstanding its “democracy”.

1940 "Stalin – An Appraisal of the Man and his Influence"

Or Trotsky again: The struggle against war and its social source, capitalism, presupposes direct, active, unequivocal support to the oppressed colonial peoples in their struggles and wars against imperialism. A 'neutral' position is tantamount to support of imperialism.

Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau (July 1936)

Donn O'Neill wrote on July 12, 2012 at 08:25 PM
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There are major economic issues in Syria from austerity measures which the Baath under pressure from donors adopted over several years back ( 2003) you miss this point totally and most of the press reports including that of the holier than thou Guardian, are shallow. The revoluation as in Egypt and Tunisia started about joblessness, hunger and corruption. A global phenomenon among youth- US and UK included. Then each takes on a different shape due to national politics which include minority rule. But Syria's Baathists worked closely with the majority( Sunni's) and other minorities (Christians) This did not stop the rampant corruption that came with liberalisation( huge commissions and opportunities that came with opening up the economy and which western and other companies contributed to)whilst the hungry and jobless looked on in rage. There was no issue about freedom which all of you go on about- rubbish. Then ofcourse there is the external funding of radical islamists groups within Syria( just as they did in Afghanisatn and Libya) and Look what happened there, good for the west because these guys and they are mainly guys have read nothing but the Kora'n) so all else such as their dealings with the outside world, have to be done by their western allies including oil concessions.. this is the biggest disaster related to most defections- payments. You ignore this. You also ignore the fact that despite all its weaknesses and the corruption, Syria had among the best health and educational indicators in the region on a low per capita incme- it was well on the way to meeting the goals of the MDGs - i maternal and child health. So if this is the case, the Baath should also be judged by this. At the end of the day the country was not hugely different from China. But it does not fit into U S-Israel the plans for the New Middle East- fractionalised and broken up as Iraq. So wake up and try to read and stop writing one sided reports it simply fans the flames of the sectarian western discourse which if it is realised ( ad this is looking likely) they won't stay within their borders.

kavita wrote on July 14, 2012 at 01:17 AM
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Syria is quickly descending into a civil war whose likely outcome will be dismemberment, mass death and destruction - the Libya solution - and where the only winners will be the international corporations, banks and empire builders. Worse, it will accelerate the slide toward a new World War of unimaginable horror and destruction.

The Assad regime remains the head of one pole in what is rapidly narrowing to a bi-polar showdown. The last-minute Russian-led mediation could conceivably lead to a government of national unity capable of resisting the destructive forces being instigated and inserted from abroad. If it fails, the possibility of a "third way" is excluded until the smoke clears. Any attempt then to struggle for such will only contribute to the slide into the holocaust and the triumph of the dark and unholy alliance led and fueled by the Empire.

If the Syrian government proves indefensible and incapable of rallying its people, a tragic outcome is assured, and that will be the judgment of history. We cannot help that now. Those cards have been dealt and they are what they are. We will see them clearly only when the game is fully engaged.

As for us in the rest of the world, our choice is also rapidly narrowing to two alternatives: mounting a massive international campaign demanding "hands off Syria," or aiding and abetting the crimes of the Empire with our silence, equivocation or refusal to act.

Chris Horton wrote on July 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM
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The future could be Rwanda at worst or Bosnia at best, the immediate objective has to be a dispensation absent the phenomena of Syrian killing Syrian.

Gregory wrote on July 16, 2012 at 07:04 PM
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I am very hesitant as an author to comment or respond to comments in relation to my own writings. The author gets to express their views at length in the article. The reader's voice should reign in the comment section. I also worry that discussions can spiral into hair-splitting debates and failing to respond to certain comments and not others may be interpreted as neglect of one reader to the benefit of another. But at times, clarifications can go a long way to clear out misunderstandings. I thus wish to make two clarifications and apologize for not engaging further with comments. I will of course continue to read comments with great interest and appreciation to all those who took the time to comment both in praise or criticism of the article. The first clarification is regarding foreign intervention. Many on social media sites have suggested that my reference to foreign intervention is an implicit acknowledgment that I support NATO! Nowhere do I suggest that. I was speaking of foreign intervention in general, and not simply military one. Military intervention is likely to cost thousands of lives, but any attempt to play this math game of which option will cause more deaths is unproductive and rarely invoked due to genuine concern towards human life. My point was that even if one might argue intervention will save lives, and certain forms might, third ways would still be opposed to it. My opposition to military intervention is categorical and based on principle and long-term political calculations, despite the brutality of the Assad regime (Saddam, another Baathist, was as brutal as it gets and I opposed foreign intervention then). The question of foreign intervention with all its complications warrants a whole other separate article. Second clarification refers to criticism of my use of the word "White". I don't use it to refer to the specific skin color of Walters. If so, Assad would count as white. I use it as a racial category of privilege, that is alive and well in the 21st century notwithstanding the moral posture of those who want to convince us otherwise. Under such a definition, Rice is as white as one gets, and Shadid partook in it whether intentionally or not. More importantly, I was challenging the very anti-imperialist discourse that the Assad regime employs to pretend it is all about fighting "Western" hegemony and control.

Hicham wrote on July 17, 2012 at 10:18 AM
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The Simple Fact is America and Israel hate Iran with a passion.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are bankrolling the FSA whilst crushing protest at home.

Foreign Intervention failed in Libya, if Assad is unpopular then the exiles in opposite should not need Foreign Help.

Azeem wrote on July 18, 2012 at 01:03 PM
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continued - The opposition is also quick to play the sectarian card just as in Libya they played the tribal card. This shows they are working for some powers to divide and conquer. Why do only anti american rulers get removed ? Assad has many christians and sunnis in his govt. The assad response to armed protest is the same as the US or UK responded to arm protests or the London riots

Azeem wrote on July 18, 2012 at 01:06 PM
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those who study the Assad regime should be advised that analyzing the nature of the regime without understanding is dynamics is an act in futility . The dynamics that govern the regime have not changed . They are : 1 - ambiguous support of Arab nationalist agendas for the purpose of gaining a minimum of political capital , 2 - a narrower focus on syria specific agendas that appeal to the general syrian public , things like syria's focal role in the middle east as well as laying claims to lebanon ( the Baath party exists mainly as an outlet for these designs ) , 3 - a covert alliance with certain groups of minorities for the purpose of mutual assistance , and 4 - a total reliance on Alawite dominated security forces for the ultimate purpose of insuring the regime's physical survival . Any analysis that fails to take into account these factors simply ignores the facts that drive the Assad regime

karim wrote on July 18, 2012 at 08:41 PM
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Where do these insurgents get their arms and military advice. What would the US/UK do in Assad's position. The answer to both questions is very obvious, the same countries which have been drawing lines in the Middle East sands for centuries.

Let us hope that the two imperial nations leaders causing such havoc in the world get their just desserts. Note I wrote leaders, the general public for the most part are innocent bystanders.

douglas wrote on July 19, 2012 at 11:37 AM
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This diatribe from western journalist seems endless, even in the face of overwhelming defeat of the terrorist FSA. Empty words and a fantasy interpretation of events, are all that remains.

Israel is a major player in the game, do people believe they want the chemical and biological (if they exist...) to fall into the hands of Jihadists? If Israel was to prepare a pre-emptive attack on the current Syrian Government, there is no guarantee that such weapons will not penetrate Israeli defences, a risk that it is not acceptable to take because the consequences would be devastating.

Israel must already deal with Mursi (Egypt’s new Extremist Muslim Brotherhood President), who recently announced “Recognition of Peace Agreement with Israel – Conditional; MB Calls for Jihad to Liberate Palestine”. Would it want another extremist Sunni (Wahhabi/Salafist) neighbour or do they prefer (in their words) “the devil they know”? For all his gusto, Assad is a seasoned politician, he knows what the people must hear, but vitally, knows the extents of his ability to act.

There has been “talk” that the minorities are “drifting towards the opposition” despite the inability to substantiate the veracity of such claims. The Vatican has announced that the FSA are targeting Christians, lessening the credibility of the claims. I sincerely hope the authors join the rest of us in reality ...or at least reads some of the links below.

It looks as though Russia and China have become the “easy” targets in this episode. It is a completely pathetic (and putrid) state of affairs, when, USA, UK, Qatar and Saudi Arabia fuel the conflict by arming, funding, training and directing the FSA terrorist groups, then blame the Syrian Government for the violence!

USA and UK forget the use of the Negroponte Doctrine to veto successive UN Security Council resolutions, their stance on the Syrian veto is abhorrently hypocritical. Pakistan and South Africa raised “unfortunate” questions at the UNSC meeting and abstained in disgust (both are key western allies).

The west is increasingly isolating itself, the repercussions of which, only time will tell. Americans (and westerners in general) are incredibly hypocritical and seem to have a historical recollection that goes back no further than a few months (and expect others to be the same).

Iraq has rejected and condemned the calls from the Arab League asking for Assad to resign and offering him “safe passage”. They promptly experienced a spate of terrorists attacks (right on time.... leading to suspicions that the USA, Saudi Arabia & Qatar may have collaborated in the orchestration of such events).

Western media has completely ignored the stories of a bomb exploding in Riyadh at the Saudi intelligence building, killing the deputy to Prince “Bandar Bush” the newly appointed Saudi intelligence chief.

The house of the “Friends of Syria” (formerly known as the “Friends of a Democratic Syria” until the glaringly obvious criticism that Qatar, Saudi Arabia are despotic regimes calling for “democracy” was pointed out to the clever dicks who thought of the name) is collapsing.

There is a deliberate attempt to make the war sectarian (this despite, of the officers killed in the terrorist bomb, one was Sunni another Christian ...this sectarian nonsense is a sham). This negates the reality that, a significant,30% of the population are non-Sunni, not a “minority” easily subdued.

This brings me to the understanding that it is a classic attempt to divide for nefarious intent (perhaps conquer). One of the first organisations to voice this Machiavellian argument of sectarianism, was Chatham House (“Home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs”) – the origins and consequences of which litter history ie partition of India on religious grounds etc.

Western reporters are just parroting what has been fed to them, a skill at which they seem very adept.

Should Assad fear when a Qatar Foundation/ YouGov poll found that he enjoyed the support of the majority? The western community simply could not accept this. Therefore, the plan of action was to increase the violence, funnel weapons and intelligence to the FSA terrorists. The idea was to terrorise the people of Syria so they believe anything would be better than the current situation.

This worked successfully in Libya, but not so in Syria. The Syrian people have seen the result of such a choice in Libya where militias control the streets, tribes are at war and rapes, thefts, murders are become commonplace.

The result of recent events is an overwhelming response from the Syrian Government. When faced with war, terrorist attacks and/or an attempt to bring chaos; would any reasonable and rational nation do anything else?

During the UK Riots, children creating chaos in the streets of major UK cities (thankfully they were unarmed), the middle classes demanded the children face the full force of the law and for the army to be deployed to the streets. There was even talk of arming the police force. It is interesting to know that the UK Riots started with the death of a youngster.

Another question we should all ask of ourselves, did USA not attack Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, nuclear bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki? There is an inherent hypocrisy in the western argument.

Nevertheless, the era where there is one rule for some and another for others is drawing to an end, Hillary Clinton’s statement on “Smart Power” (on The State Department’s website if anyone want to read it) tacitly admits this fact.

Things have changed, least of all because the “soft power” exercised by Western countries against any dissenting nation, including China (regent in waiting to the title of world superpower) and Russia (with its devastatingly large nuclear arsenal), is waning and effectively countered by the victims.

A demonstration of this “soft power” (an unholy alliance of western Governments, NGOs and western media), was the not so coincidental internal strife of China and Russia, it appeared on the international stage (precisely at the same time) when both nations stood against American “will” on UNSC. Putin still won the presidential election and the Chinese Communist party still controls China.

Unfortunately, in consequence of Libya & Syria, there is likely to an “abandonment” of the nuclear disarmament process. It is clear that Russia and China, both increasingly find that Western countries resort to undiplomatic and uncivil methods, under such circumstances it would be irresponsible to abandon the nuclear deterrent.

I am sure that west is not about to give up anytime soon with their wars and interference in sovereign affairs, it is not a place where people come to their senses very quick.

Be forewarned, if a victory, whether in Syria (where it Iooks increasingly doubtful), or elsewhere, it shall be a Pyrrhic one.

I leave you with thought...do Western reporters, who became cheerleaders for the Syrian conflict and instigators of violence, feel the ground crumbling beneath their feet?

PS – it is almost certain that western media will remove this comment on Syria, they do not like the facts to obstruct their argument, so much for free speech.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18930876 “"The Free Syrian Army ruined our lives," said one Iraqi man who had just arrived with his Syrian wife and daughter.” ... “"They evicted us," she said, staring defiantly at the camera. She was on the verge of tears, but refused to break down. ...."They are not an army, they're just gangs. There's only one army, the Syrian Arab Army, and they have a right to protect the people and the country. They are in control in Damascus."”

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/6535.htm “Recognition of Peace Agreement with Israel – Conditional; MB Calls for Jihad to Liberate Palestine” Mursi, new Egyptian President.

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/2012/07/fides-reports-rebel-islamists-killing-christians-in-syria/?utm_source=ocptwitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign= ocptweets&utm_content=Orthodox+Christian+Tweets&utm_term=ocp (The Orthodox Church Media Network) “groups of rebel extremist Islamists “terrorising people in Damascus” especially Christians and Iraqi refugees. Fides has also reported the murder of an entire Christian family by militiamen from the “Islam Brigade”, “Liwa al-Islam”, the same group that claimed responsibility for the attack on Bashar al-Assad regime’s hierarchy”

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NG24Ak02.html “German intelligence estimates that "around 90" terror attacks that "can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups" were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July”

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NG20Ak02.html “the FSA have been lying through their teeth for months”

http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=691:the-right-kind-of-terror&catid=25:alerts-2012&Itemid=69 The Right kind of terror

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christians.escape.violence.of.homs/30270.htm 200 Christians killed by FSA.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/302261/report-rebels-responsible-houla-massacre-john-rosenthal FSA committed Houla massacre?

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/06/vatican-christians-expelled-syria.html Christians expelled by FSA.

http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/1671459_insight-military-intervention-in-syria-post-withdrawal.html “SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce missions and training opposition forces.... the idea 'hypothetically' is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rCvfwoRGMg&feature=g-all-u USA Congressman Ron Paul on intervention in Syria.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/15/global-justice-nato-libya Seamus Milne “If there were global justice, NATO would be in the dock over Libya”

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/15/12753465-christians-snub-cairo-meeting-with-clinton-claim-us-backs-islamists? Christians snub Cairo meeting with Clinton & claim US backs Islamists

https://rt.com/news/un-syria-resolution-blackmail-338/ US blackmail of other nations.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/bbcs-j15.shtml “BBC world news editor Jon Williams has admitted that the coverage of last month’s Houla massacre in Syria by the world’s media and his own employers was a compendium of lies”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negroponte_doctrine The Negroponte Doctrine.

A**** wrote on July 25, 2012 at 09:57 AM
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Very unfortunate for Syria what started as a vocal argument for relief on a variety of subjects was fueled by exsternal forces to turn violent. I make no excuses for ether side however I see with clerity what non Syrians are promoting through discorse using Syrian against Syrian its Lebanon all over again having shut down the cival war in Lebanon I know all too well the players God damnb them all to hell.

John McCrillis wrote on July 28, 2012 at 11:10 AM
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It seems that the ‘Marxists/Trotskyites’ are increasingly allied to Iran. So their positions in Middle Eastern politics do not seems to reflect stances based on principles; many ‘leftists’ who declared opposition to nuclear, for example, would otherwise support Iran’s right to it. Here, the argument shifts to right of Iran to nuclear since US and Israel already possess it. Second, the ‘left’ are been driven by such self-conceited and compromised individuals as George Galloway, who now draw their salary direct from Tehran.

Bob Crane wrote on July 29, 2012 at 08:28 PM
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On the question of Palestine, the author could have also highlighted the Assad Dynasty's (both senior and jenior’s) treatment of the Palestinians, particularly in Southern Lebanon, where, the Assad regime was responsible for mass killings of Palestinians, which has since come to be known as ‘Black March’. It broke the Palestinian resistence there, and help establish the sectarian Hizballah. And it's history of complicity with Israelis on this issue of Palestine, most recently, the 'peace treaty' that was almost signed.

Bob Crane wrote on July 29, 2012 at 08:48 PM

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