Photo credit: Voirlemonde
I have not been posting on Syria because the state of this country is a very personal thing to me. I grew up during the Lebanese civil war. I saw the savagery of my fellow men and women. I saw people who used to be friends denounce and kill each other out of fear and under coercion. Militia in Lebanon were intent at destroying each other. Only the presence of the Syrian army prevented one ethnic sect from annihilating the other. Many Lebanese accuse Syrians of having participated, in their own way, with their intelligence and army, in the Lebanese civil war. But Syria didn't start the Lebanese civil war. It was started by Lebanese. Syria watched and made sure no sect triumphed. It was in Baathist and secular Syria's interest that Lebanon kept its religious mosaics. I left Lebanon in 1982 and forgot about it, married a foreigner and threw myself in the pursuit of the ordinary life without ever thinking of even visiting Lebanon. When in 2005 Rafic Hariri was assassinated, I told my husband and children that it was time to visit Lebanon because the country was probably going to enter a new period of unrest. It was also time for me to face up to my repressed fears and my pain. Memories came back. Days and nights were spent with anxiety only at the thought of revisiting the country that I left ravaged by civil war. To calm my fears, my husband decided to give this visit a context that will make it less stressful by including Cyprus and Syria in our itinerary before arriving to Lebanon. We were in Cyprus when the London subway was bombed. Greek Cypriots love Bashar El Assad as much as they hate Turks. In Syria, despite the tensions on the Syrian Lebanese border, we were welcome. I felt free, I felt secure. I loved Damascus and the harmony between the communities. All these years I was outside Lebanon and unable to think about it, it was there before my eyes. I know this might seem an insult because many Syrians consider their government as oppressive and themselves as lacking freedom. But Syria in 2005 reminded very much of Lebanon before the civil war, it was my country lost and found again. Finally we went to Lebanon, and only because I visited Syria before and saw the possibility of different religions living together I was able to see Lebanon again without fear and negative feelings. This is my personal connection to Syria.
I have not been posting on Syria on this blog because there is so much disinformation. The revolution, in the beginning, seemed genuine to me. But also right from the beginning, there was evidence of lies and biases in Arab and western coverage of Syria. The Guardian for instance has been misrepresenting the events from day one, even though they pretended to have a reporter on site in Damascus. They had Katherine Marsh, and now they have Nidaa Hassan. For some reason, Brian Whitaker who has written well on the Middle east and the Arab world, has been openly anti Syrian regime right from the beginning of the events (Whitaker who is in charge of the middle east section at The Gaurdian wrote directly only rarely on Syria since the beginning). The big elephant in this small room of information is Al-Jazeera who has been litteraly lashing out at the Syrian regime and not only presenting unreliable information from eyewitnesses but also manipulating the information.
There is also the gay girl in damascus story and it has come to represent the level of lies and manipulations in the information on the Syrian revolution 2011 to the point that soon enough Syrian auhtorities will be accused of the disappearance of a fictional character. This is kafkaesque!
Serious analyses are lacking. The left leaning Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar has published some useful articles on Syria but they are not making their way into other news oultets and they are not cited.
Here are two of them that caught my attention:
And there are facts and analyses by journalists, political analysts and political scientists which were never mentioned in the blogs and Syria news aggregators that are read by Syrians anxious to find a way out to the turmoil in their country:
Protesters' weaponry, a contentious issue, never confirmed, never refuted by Syrian opposition figure, like Israel's nukes.
The weak foundations of Arab democracies: the author puts the blame on Islam and its inability to foster a vital civil society, a necessary condition for democracy, the real one, not the one that is being crafted by the neoliberal cons for Syria and the Arab world.
Understanding Syria's unrests: the author mentions, as early as April 11th, the danger of armed gangs
A third way on Syria is possible, but nobody is listening...
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood by Gary Gambill (an article from 2006 but of some interest to what is happening today in Syria).
The Syrian Baath by Eric Rouleau (1967, English). Sometimes, it is useful to have a look back.
The confrontation in Syria has also changed rapidly. The so called Syrian revolution 2011 has mutated into an armed insurgency against the regime. They have strong elements from the neighbouring Muslim Brotherhood and from external powers including Israel who have stakes in fomenting a civil war in Syria. External powers, especially Israel, have no interest in the emergence of a vibrant Syrian economy and Syrian society, I wonder how those Syrians who are monitoring the Syrian revolution 2011 from Washington DC, Maryland, or Sweden cannot see this, but they are blinded by their hate for Assad. There is no opposition in Syria today if one means by opposition a unified assembly of people having common goals for the country, there is only chaos powered by hate for the Assads and organised by ennemies of Syria in which a minority of Syrians are participating taking hostage some 70% of the population in Damascus and Aleppo. This is not to say that there isn't a need for genuine reforms in Syria and a transition to social justice and freedom (you will never hear the word democracy in my posts because the term, as it is promoted by Neo Liberal Cons and western powers as an excuse to invade Arab countries is now in disrepute), this is to say that the Syrian revolution 2011 is the perfect example of organised chaos, far from being a platform for reforms, social justice and individual freedoms.
One has to feel responsibility for the country and the people when trying to change the order of things. I am not seeing this in any known representative of the Syrian revolution 2011 and the people they are sending to protest are poor and desperate people. So far, this revolution is represented in the outside by people funded by external powers who are not friends of Syria and inside by disenfranchised people. There are no women, no families, no students, no businessmen, no professionals, no intellectuals in these protests. Meanwhile the traditional opposition sits silent and departs from its silence only to mention that it is up to the Shabab (youth) on the streets to assume the revolution. Only Bassam El Kadi, who is younger than your average traditional Syrian opposition figure, has been vocal and I like what he writes. It makes me sad, these old revolutionaries would like to think that there is a real revolutionary spirit on the streets. There is. But sadly, there is also a foreign funded armed insurgency which nobody knows for sure how it will end.
Today is the 'Day Of The Clans' of the Syrian opposition who is hoping to rally the clans of Syria. Just the title makes me suspicious of this opposition. If clanism is going to be part of the new Syria then you can say goodbye to reforms with this opposition (not to mention democracy of course, even their democracy and not mine). They are only going to topple Assad by replacing him with another dictatorship, fragilise the country's ethnic mosaics, its economy, put an end to the last secular regime in the Arab world, and open the door to a more docile Syria. That's the price of freedom, if only they would get their freedom, and if only it will end there but it won't. By ending secular governments in favour of sectarian and theocratic governments, the conditions are set for more tensions in the region. I hope Syrians will find a way out of this mess and wish them well.
A road map to a peaceful solution in Syria.