Sep 022013

We are sharing below the following notes and observations by Dr. Yousef Abdulhaq of the Tanweer Centre, a university lecturer on economic development and a Board member of multiple Palestinian democratic organizations. He was formerly held in the occupation prisons in administrative detention. 

PA060106-600x450Many democratic and leftist writers, when approaching the question of Syria, partially or totally ignore fundamentals of historical and dialectical materialist analysis.

No person who is concerned for human rights and dignity can deny the aspirations of the Syrian people; however, no entity other than the Syrian people – whether individuals, groups, states, or even the United Nations, has the right to determine the needs, interests and desires of the Syrian people and impose those things upon them through their might, authority and power. Today, the question we are facing is one of intervention and outright war on Syria.

I do need to cut my hair – but no one has the right to impose upon me the barber and the style. This principle has played out through history – we can observe the experiences of the former Soviet Union, eastern European countries, and colonialism and imperialism in the Third World.

Some writers have drawn comparisons to Libya in attempts to legitimize direct NATO and US involvement and military action in Syria. One wrote, “As in Libya, where the NATO intervention stopped the outright massacre of the Libyans, we should want that first of all, the West disregards the UN sanctions as has been done by Russia and provide the rebels with arms and ammunition. After that the UN and NATO and the USA should ask the insurgents what the Syrians want them to do.”

In reality, if we look at Libya today, we do not find a hopeful tale of Western intervention nor do we find Libyans living in a democratic paradise; indeed, we continue to find the hell of torture, militias, and the loss of Libya’s oil wealth to support national investments. Looking at the reality of Libya today, it is extraordinarily difficult to imagine leftist and democratic writers upholding Libya as a shining example of the beneficial effects of NATO bombing.

Instead, we should be asking, “Who are you to ‘ask what the Syrians want them to do’? Who are you asking? Who are the rebels that are so designated as spokespeople by the US, NATO and the UN, and from where do they derive their legitimacy? How do they speak as ‘the Syrians’?” In fact, it is clear that such arguments undermine the will of the Syrian people; today, it is clear that the war in Syria now has three dimensions: internal civil war, regional and international proxy war. Such proposals in fact mean supporting these ongoing wars and extending their duration through direct military intervention and through armaments, thus further destroying any opportunity for the Syrian people to exert their own free will.

When I read arguments that the West never provided arms or ammunition to the insurgent fighters in Syria, who only used weapons from defectors or seized from the Syrian Army. What role do such writers imagine that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, general manager of military intelligence and head of the national security council, is playing in his mission as coordinator of relations with the Syrian insurgents? Even the BBC reported over one year ago massive arms shipments from Saudi Arabia to the Syrian insurgents, as well as large-scale Qatari financing. Can it really be imagined that the weapons and money provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the closest allies of US imperialism and Zionism in the region, are given without their approval, or in order to confront their interests?

The final discussion is about the roles of Qatar in support of the fighters in Syria and from Russia in support of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and the planned Qatari gas pipeline which was to pass through Syria to Europe, potentially impacting Russia’s gas trade. I do not think these arguments are compelling because examining the map of the region, it appears the Qatari pipeline can cross Iraq to Turkey and Europe, a shorter distance than through Syria.

The realities of Syria today do not mean that the Syrian government and its local allies, Iran and Hezbollah, are angels. Indeed, they committed major mistakes – not only in killing civilians in the first half-year of struggle when the situation was much more peaceful, but also because they did not invest in that period in making changes to support the human aspirations of the Syrian people, with the cooperation of progressive democratic elements in Syria. For instance, putting on trial security officials who tortured and killed innocent civilians, especially in Dira’a, and forming a new government led by a progressive democratic person known for his credibility, integrity and independence from the Ba’ath party, in order to prepare a new constitution and to hold swift democratic elections.

However, even had those things been done, would they have stopped the American-Zionist Imperialist Alliance indirect and direct attack on Syria? I do not believe so, because their primary goal is not achieving the human aspirations of the Syrian people. The American-Zionist Imperialist Alliance is supporting the Apartheid Israeli occupation of Palestine for over 65 years, as well as many brutal governments in the region, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Morocco.

Their main goal, in fact, is to serve Israeli interests in damaging Iran, through damaging Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, bringing the entire region under the domination of the American-Zionist Imperialist Alliance. This argument explains clearly why the Turkish government facilitated early on the entry of thousands of Islamist fighters into Syria from other countries, even though Turkey does not welcome such fighters inside its own land.

Making progressive democratic changes will surely make Syria stronger to confront the American-Zionist Imperialist attack. British Prime Minister David Cameron lost his House of Commons vote on military action in Syria not because he did not try his best to win, but because the masses of regular people pressured their MPs in the UK against war on Syria. This means that the masses of people in the UK and the US are holding to a more rational policy than leftist writers who are supporting an attack on Syria!


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