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Syria: Turning Back the Clock on the Arab Spring

By       Message Ahmad Barqawi       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Of course the recent kidnapping of 48 Iranians in Damascus on August 4th, 2012, falls also into this same sectarian bracket, it's enough for the rebels to declare --and without a shred of evidence- that each and every one of the 48 hostages is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; and the Mainstream Media will immediately gobble up and echo the bigoted contortions of the kidnappers as "proven facts" almost sight unseen.

This systematic deconstruction of the Syrian identity to make way for a new one where religious affiliations supersede nationalism has always been one of the main calling cards of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Syrian opposition, and like a moth to a flame; Saudi and Qatari funded media went into overdrive promoting -and in effect feeding- the cancerous growth of sectarian rhetoric within the ranks of the revolution's public base of support; a quick look through any of the online forums, chat rooms and facebook pages dedicated for the support of the Syrian Revolution will reveal the extent to which the proponents of the opposition have been indoctrinated; every Alawite has become an agent of Iran, exterminating them is fair game (or worse... a religious duty), hostile sentiments run rampant, some of these pages actually advocate the kidnapping of Alawites and Shiites while others offer death threats or even "hit lists" containing the names of local religious clerks, journalists, personalities loyal to the regime or just ordinary Syrian citizens marked for death because they just so happen to be caught showing support for Al-Assad on the government-affiliated TV channel Addunia.

Whatever genuine grievances and demands for political reform the Syrian people might have had a year and half ago were trodden underfoot by this stampeding sectarian drive that the Syrian opposition itself worked so hard to foster among its own supporters.

A cursory review of the slogans the Syrian rebels have designated for each and every major Friday demonstration since the start of the revolution on March of 2011 (following a popular trend in the Arab Spring of giving certain titles to Fridays to mark a major day of mobilization and action) would be enough to reveal the chronic sectarian, divisive and sometimes separatist undertones that has plagued this uprising from the get go.

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Instead of emphasizing on encompassing themes of national unity and accord that transcend religious and ethnic affiliations; Syrian "revolutionaries" opted for highlighting the divisive elements within the Syrian society by selecting titles that directly spoke to the average Syrian's most basic ethnic and sectarian instincts.

For example; on May 20th, 2011 anti-government demonstrations across the country were dubbed "Azadi Friday" in a blatant (desperate?) effort to sway the country's Kurdish population into joining the apprising against president Bashar Al Assad (Azadi being the Kurdish word for Freedom), ten months later, demonstrations on March 9th, 2012 were also dubbed the "Friday of Loyalty to the Kurdish Uprising"; now if democracy, human rights and political freedoms were in fact the main drivers for revolting against the regime; why would there be a need to single out a certain group of citizenry and incite a narrow sense of ethnic nationalism within this minority?

Other major themes amounted to handing out invitations for western powers to come and bomb the country into smithereens; such as "the Friday of International Protection" (Sep. 9th, 2011), "Friday of No-Fly Zones" (Oct. 28th, 2011), "Friday of Freezing Syria's Arab League Membership" (Nov. 11th, 2011), "Friday of the Syrian Buffer Zone" (Dec. 2nd, 2011) and of course the "Friday of Immediate Foreign Intervention" on March 16th, 2012.

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National red lines were crossed in the name of the revolution because of this pervading warped culture of self-induced impunity which ironically made the uprising all the more susceptible to all kinds of foreign manipulations; now the whole situation in Syria is heavily skewed and perceptions are gravely altered in the public discourse, calling for a NATO military intervention is debated rather than condemned outright, and shaking hands with the devil to wreak doomed havoc on the country became a matter of valid political taste that should not elicit public outrage; much like how the "liberation of Libya" was brought about by American and French warplanes and aerial bombing campaigns; we hear about the "liberation of Aleppo" in the news; yet these are foreign militants backed by western imperial governments that are doing most of this "liberation" against the National Syrian Army.

Since its inception; the so-called Syrian revolution was wrapped in a chronic aura of self-glorification, a neatly packaged pretence of sainthood and holier-than-thou grandeur, no one was allowed to criticize the rebels, their questionable political inclinations (questionable at best, downright treacherous at worst) and/or the numerous criminal acts they've committed under the fig leaves of freedom and democracy, they were saints, idealists, David standing up to a diabolical Goliath and most importantly the "civilized" west's darlings armed only with mobile phones, banners and twitter accounts.

It was a reverence for an uprising on a scale rarely seen, the Syrian opposition was given a substantial media clout which was obviously exploited to the maximum extent possible; suddenly the rebellion was above all accusation and skepticism; anyone who would even dare to allude to any of the numerous shenanigans, misdeeds and wrongdoings undertaken by the FSA or the SNC would immediately be labeled as an absolute advocate of tyranny or a "Shabih" for Bashar Al-Asad; and what takes the cake is the fact that those who oppose the Syrian opposition's views on democracy and the future of Syria may very well get tossed out of third-story windows or suffer a fate that pretty much resembles that of the Berri family's: machine-gunned at point blank range amidst jubilant chants of "Allahu Akbar"" democracy at its best indeed.

And since Western reporters are so infatuated with shoddy images and amateur youtube videos supplied by the rebels, that they base their entire facile -and equally amateur- news coverage of the Syrian issue on them; why don't they take a look at the dozens of graphic video footage that show the rebels reveling in their criminal excesses and butchery; the latest of which comes from Aleppo, and it shows the mutilated bodies of postal workers (of course if you're a public servant in Syria then you must be a Shabbih, right?) being thrown off of the Post Office building... and yes you guessed it... amidst fervent cheers of "Allahu Akbar", because it wouldn't be complete without the religious tinge, emphasizing the morbid fact that this was actually God's work being done.

In reality; the so-called Syrian rebels are just as far from their contrived and propagandized mantra of democracy, human rights and political pluralism as the regime they're claiming to revolt against, if not further; and when the United States, France and Britain become active partners in any revolution; you know there's something instinctively awry with this picture.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar (the latter two are far from being the holy grails of democracy) have been working overtime under the auspices of the imperial west to ensure that the only road open to the Syrian crisis is the one that leads to civil war; they took full advantage of an already laid groundwork of a previous violent NATO-sponsored democracy spreading endeavor in Libya to plunge Syria into this hideous orgy of mayhem and wars by proxies; romanticizing the "way of the gun" and swaying the Syrian public into this quicksand of internal bloodletting.

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It's as if the Syrian "revolution" has turned back the clock on the Arab Spring which began with such utopian exuberance in Tunisia and Egypt; young nationalist activists have been forced into invisibility and powerlessness while socialists and leftist dissidents seeking real reforms have been sidelined in favor for trigger-happy radicals and foreign Islamist militants from various Arab and Islamic states (even western media felt that they had to concede this point recently after sort of tap-dancing around the issue for months); and with the heavy militarization of the revolution (which began during the early stages of the civic movement; way earlier than what most mainstream media outlets would have us to believe); the Syrian uprising had yet another stake driven through its heart, especially when taking into account the sources of funding and weapons' supplies that have been flowing into the country non-stop for the past year and a half; this train has been spiraling out of control and further down into the waiting arms of NATO governments and their Gulf cronies.

The vaults of Khaleeji Sheikhdoms are wide open to bankroll an armed insurgency aimed only at reconfiguring Syria's pivotal role within the geopolitical map of the region at the growing expense of the Syrian people's legitimate aspirations for social justice, more political freedoms and ending state corruption; the Syrian people didn't ask for a redirection of their current government's foreign policy of supporting resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, the Syrian people didn't ask for a puppet regime aligned with the U.S., the Syrian people didn't ask for a crippling economic warfare thinly cloaked as "smart sanctions" against the Assad regime, and they certainly didn't ask for foreign interventions in their name that will without a doubt have devastating consequences on their own country, leaving it torn, ravished and in tatters.

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Ahmad Barqawi, a Palestinian freelance columnist & writer, he has done several studies, statistical analysis and researches on economic and social development.

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