Thursday, April 28, 2011

Western Pretexts

By Hassan Haidar
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 28/04/2011
Despite the blatant imbalance of power between the regime in Syria and the peaceful opposition that has been targeted for forty years with all kinds of political, moral and physical pressures under an experienced and active security apparatus, the opposition has managed over a period of less than two months to exert serious pressures on the regime, leading the latter to make use of decisive military force in an attempt to stifle it, after the failure of aesthetic and formal solutions to convince it of their seriousness became patent, and after the naïve media campaigns were unsuccessful at distorting the opposition’s image and at portraying it as a group of foreign agents.

Yet, while absolutely asserting the rejection of any foreign interference in the confrontation currently taking place in Syria, the spontaneous and youthful Syrian opposition’s ability to endure in the face of cannons, tanks and the machineguns of the “shabbiha” (thugs), in addition to the broad campaign of arrests, is in urgent need of a strong moral boost, one which the world has not offered it as it did with the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt, as well as with the uprising in Libya. Indeed, hesitancy, reservations and cold calculation still dominate the stances of influential decision-making capitals – first because of what they say is “fear of the coming unknown”, because they are unfamiliar with the opposition’s leaderships, structure and inclinations; and second because they are concerned about “the situation in the region turning to chaos” if stability is undermined in Syria.

It may be true that the world is unfamiliar with prominent leaders of the Syrian opposition, which includes a wide range of Leftists, Islamists, Centrists and Liberal activists working in the Human rights field, in addition of course to ordinary citizens, and that such leaders raise various slogans, ranging from demanding more freedoms, the right to form political parties and an end to the tyranny of the security apparatus over the daily lives of citizens, to directly demanding the overthrow of the regime, as per the slogan that was chanted in some protests after the start of the bloody repression. Yet such a factor was not decisive in the uprisings of Tunisia and Egypt, in which the youth went beyond traditional opposition leaderships or those who sought to benefit from the wave. In fact, those who settled the issue of the regime in Egypt were mostly from the youth and not affiliated with any political party or organizational framework, but rather merely people demanding rights and looking for a better future. Furthermore, the outcomes of these two revolutions went beyond all the fears of the “Brotherhood Boogeyman” and of the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power.

As for what is being said about stability in the Middle East, it is an old tune that no longer convinces anyone. Indeed, Western nations, and especially the United States, have always accused the Syrian regime of undermining stability in the region and held it responsible for proxy wars of which the Lebanese and the Palestinians have experienced the destruction and tragedies over decades. And we are entitled to wonder: why then was the West constantly asserting over the past years, as it still does, that the existing alliance between Damascus and Tehran poses a threat to stability in the region because it arms Hezbollah and the Hamas movement? And is what is meant by stability merely ensuring the security of Israel?

The truth is that there is patent contradiction between the West’s stress on the necessity for the Syrian regime to enact radical reforms and its desire for it to maintain its stability, because it knows perfectly well that the nature of the regime in Damascus does not allow for any kind of real change.

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