Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 20th, 2011

What’s going on in Syria?  What is “Moratorium on dictators and absolute monarchs”?

Suddenly, since this Friday, mass upheavals are spreading in Syria; from the city of Daraa by the borders with Jordan, to Banyas, Tartous, Homs, and way to the north in the Kurdish region.  Last week, there were a couple of shy demonstrations localized in Damascus demanding the liberation of political prisoners.  Four demonstrators were killed in Daraa.

President Bashar Assad sent two official delegates to pay condolence to the bereaved families of the dead citizens in Dera3a.  As they finished their visit, the two delegates had three more casualties on hand. Worse, internal security agents rounded up a few adolescents, less than 13 of age, for painting on walls “Down with Bashar“.

The youths were tortured, finger nails pulled, and savagely beaten.  Bashar demanded the release of the youths, but they had to be hospitalized first before handing them to their families.  By the time the tortured youths were returned to their families, the revolt was in full swing.

The Syrian government blamed “infiltrators” disguised in internal security outfit who shot live ammunition on peaceful marchers.  The infiltrators also burned the headquarter of the one-party Baath regime and the court of justice in the city of Dar3a.  You have to admit that the “infiltrators” are awfully skilled:  The government security specialists have proven to be no match to infiltrators.

The President Bashar Assad had decreed last week the liberation of most prisoners, political and non political, those over 70 years, and the terminally sick…Maybe it was just a promise?

As all promises that the people have been hearing for 4 decades? I guess Bashar forgot to mention that the political system needed to be reformed and that the Assad regime, father to son, since 1971, has to make rooms for democratic succession and away from a “one-party” rule.

Syria has grown to over 20 million in population.  Amid the turmoil in the Middle-East, Syria of the Assad socialist regime managed to bring sort of stability and security: it maintained a steady currency and invested in decent infrastructure and schooling for all.

Invariably, oligarchic regimes ends up getting involved in widespread corruptions and considering the State Treasury as family holdings.

Syria is described as a “steadfast” regime against the meddling of western powers in its internal affairs and in Lebanon; and Syria is one of the last regimes bordering Israel that didn’t sign any “peace treaty” with the enemy Israel.

Obviously, Israel occupies the Golan Heights since 1967 and the USA refuses to pressure Israel to return occupied lands according to the UN resolution.

Syria waged a good war in 1973 against Israel with the coordination of Egypt, and managed to reconquer the Golan Heights, only to lose it again when Sadat of Egypt agreed on a cease-fire without the consultation with Syria and the US transporting military hardware to Israel by “an air bridge“. Since 1973, the occupied Golan Heights is one of the most peaceful region:  Syria never attempted to disturb the peace!

Syria of Hafez Assad, the father who grabbed power by a military coup in 1971, sided with Iran of Khomeini against his nemesis Saddam Hussein of Iraq (another leader of the Baath faction) in the decade long war (1980-1989).  Syria also cooperated with the US alliance and send an army to kick Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991.

In return, the US gave Syria mandated power over Lebanon that lasted till 2005, after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri PM.

Bashar succeeded to his father in 2000.  Israel unilaterally retreated from south Lebanon in 2000.  Instead of announcing a timetable for the retreat of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2000, the new Syrian President got immersed resolving side problems and affirming his power.

The Assad regime is based on the minority Alawi sect (15% of population), a kind of Shia sect. The Alawis got most of the sensitive positions in the army and internal security system, and thus are in the hands of the extended family members.

The Syria Baath party made alliance with a few political parties for the Parliament, but there is a deep sense that the structure of this regime is fundamentally an oligarchic system.

The Syrian regime masterfully kept diplomatic dialogue with the US  Administrations and reached many tacit agreements in cooperating with the US in Iraq, even though Syria is included in the “black list” as a “rogue State” not entirely supporting the US policies.

Syria maintained a strong alliance with Iran for three decades and currently extended firm alliance with Turkey.  The regimes of Mubarak of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan kept the squeeze on Syria by orders from the USA for two decades.  Syria had close ties with Libya of Qadhafi and is still supporting Qadhafi with jet pilots, until the “No Fly Zone” was established.

Two days ago, Syria announced its support to the expeditionary Saudi forces in Bahrain on the premises that these forces were legitimate since they were demanded by the King of Bahrain!  In the meanwhile, Iran vehemently denounced these incursions into Bahrain and is against Qadhafi.  Thus, Syria flaunted Iran’s policies in the region twice in less than two days.

Syria is wooing the alliance of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in order to ward off the current mass Arab uprising everywhere.  Maybe Syria made a hasty move away from Iran before securing its internal stability with new political reforms.

It is obvious that no foreign alliances can withstand the new wrath of the people for everlasting regimes of dictators, one-party regimes, and absolute monarchies.  Lebanon youths have been demonstrating for a secular political structure.  The monarchy in Morocco is witnessing mass upheavals in 40 cities.  Time for outraged is not going to subside any time soon.

People in the Arab States are clear in their demands: “We want a Moratorium on dictators and absolute monarchs.  We want to try democratic systems for a change.  We demand a restoration of our dignity as individual citizens with full human rights…”

Note 1:  The growing squeeze on Bashar al Assad cannot be effective militarily.  The regime might be ripe to collapse financially, but its economy is self-sufficient for basic survival foodstuff.  The irony is that the regime will destroy whatever economic development it managed to install in the last three decades, just to maintain its hold on power.

Note 2: This was my first article on the Syria problems, and it was followed by a dozen other posts as the situation unfolded. Mind you that in the first phase of the uprising, the Syrian wanted to emulate the other Tahrir Squares (Liberation) in Egypt and Tunisia: Out with the dictator regime that lasted 40 years!

There is mass uprising in Yemen; it has been going on for over a month now. The upheaval has reached every city and town.  A couple of days ago, 52 Yemenite citizens were shot to death in the Capital Sanaa.  The President dictator for three decades, Ali Abdullah Saleh, declared a day of mourning for this Sunday!  

The people do not care was this President wishes or wants. Today, the people have said: “Enough is enough”.  Ministers and ambassadors are resigning in protests. The President decided to fire his government.  The army is taking over the security of peaceful demonstrations. Hundreds of generals and officers have joined the people.

On November 6, 2009, I published a post “There is a devastating civil war in Yemen: Is it of any concern to the UN?”.  The post is very current and I am republishing it with minor editing.

The UN did it again!  Civil wars in non oil-producing Arab States are left to run its natural steam until the State is bankrupt and ready to be picked up at salvage price. The UN tends to get busy for years in collateral world problems when civil wars strike Arab States.

Occasionally, the UN demonstrates lukewarm attempts for a resolution in oil-producing States as long as it is under control.  Lebanon experienced 17 years of civil war.  Morocco still has a civil war in south Sahara for three decades.  Sudan has been suffering of a rampant civil war for four decades.  Algeria is experiencing a resurgence of a devastating civil war that started in 1990 because Europe refused to accept a democratically elected Islamic majority in the parliament.  Iraq was totally neglected while Saddam Hussein was decimating the Shiaas and Kurds in Iraq for three decades.

Even after the US coalition forced the Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, the UN instituted an embargo that killed 2 million Iraqi babies for lack of milk and needed medicines.  Somalia never got out of its miseries for four decades so far.  Mauritania is rope jumping from one military coup to another. The other Arab States are in constant low-level civil wars overshadowed by dictators, one party, oligarchic, and absolute monarchic regimes.

A week ago, a few trucks were allowed to cross Saudi borders carrying tents and necessary medicines to stem generalized diseases where hundred thousands of Yemeni refugees huddled in refugee camps on the high plateau of North-West Yemen, by the borders with Saudi Arabia that closed its borders and chased out any “infiltration” of refugees.

The most disheartening feeling is that you don’t see field reporting of this civil war by the western media.  The written accounts are from second-hand sources and decades old. They abridge the problem by stating it is a tribal matter. They feel comfortable blaming Iran; and you wonder: “how this land-locked region in North-West Yemen can be supplied by Iran?”  Blaming Iran for every social uprising in the Gulf States needs to be clarified.

The western media is easily convinced that Al Qaeda moved from Saudi Arabia and was ordered to infiltrate the Somali refugee camps in South Yemen.  Question: How Sunni Moslem Al Qaeda members got to be located in a region of North West Yemen with Shiaa Yazdi population?   Is that question totally irrelevant?

The population of North-West Yemen forms the third of the total; the “citizens” are of the Yezdi Shiia sect that agrees to seven Imams and not 12 as in Iran; the Yazdi sect does not care that much about the coming of a “hidden” Mahdi to unite and save Islam.  The western media want you to believe that this war, which effectively started in 2004, is a power succession problem to prevent the son of current President Abdallah Saleh from inheriting the power.  Actually Saleh’s son is the head of the Presidential Guard which has been recently involved in the war after the regular army failed to bring a clear-cut victory in this “civil war”.

Yemen was a backward States even in the 60′s.  South Yemen had a Marxist regime backed by the Egyptian troops of Jamal Abdel Nasser; it was against North Yemen ruled by an ancient Yazdi Imam; a hereditary regime labeled the “Royalists” and backed by Saudi Arabia.

After the Soviet Union disintegrated, Yemen unified in 1990.  Since then, South Yemen and North West Yemen were deprived of the central State financial and economic distribution of wealth.  President Saleh could present the image of a “progressist” leader as long as Yemen was out of the screen and nobody cared about this bankrupt State.

Yemen is on the verge of being divided into three separate autonomous States, the South, North West, and Sanaa the Capital.  The problems in the Horn of Africa have migrated its endemic instability into Yemen: refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been flocking into the southern shores of Yemen.  Heavy influx of contraband products are keeping the people of these two regions precariously afloat.

The deal between Hillary Clinton and Israel foreign affairs Levny to patrol the Indian Ocean was not just meant for Gaza but mainly to supporting President Saleh for his 2009 military campaign against the rebels in North Yemen by monitoring contraband arms shipments.

Saudi Arabia, during the duo power brokers of Prince Sultan and Neyef (respectively Ministers of Defense and the Interior) did their best to destabilize Yemen on account of fighting the spread of the Shiaa sect in the Arabic Peninsula. Yemen has no natural resources to count on and the population is addicted to “Qat” that they chew on, at lunch time for hours.

Yemen was the most prosperous region in the Arabic Peninsula for millennia; land caravans started from Taez and then passed by Maareb from which town the caravans split to either Mecca (then to Aqaba and Syria) or took the direction to Persia and Iraq.  All kinds of perfume, seasoning, and textile landed by sea from India and South East Asia; incense was produced from a special tree grown in Yemen and Hadramout.

The British colonial Empire didn’t care about this region; all that it wanted to secure were sea ports for commerce and to defend the entrances of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea to Egypt.

The UN is inheriting the same lax attitude of the British Empire; as long as the US bases are secured in this region then the hell with the people. Qatar arranged for reconciliation in 2007 and Saudi Arabia interfered to fail it.  The disseminated propaganda is of “Archaic tribes fighting one another wearing daggers as symbol of manhood are all that there is in Yemen”.

Saudi Arabia is involved in this war and using its airforce to stem the “rebel hawthees”; it blocked the satellites in the Arab world that cover this civil war.  Is CNN willing to come to the rescue for the world communities to get coverage of the mass massacres going on in this poor country?

This post sounds so current in its content that I cannot but wonder:  Have the western nations understood anything about the current “Arab” mass upheavals?  Is Libya to be implicitly redivided among the previous colonial powers?  Are the absolute monarchs in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and the Arab Gulf States to retain their powers?  Hell no; not this time around.  Enough indignity and humiliation!

Before WWII, if you were an American artist or writer you resided in Paris; you were a mathematician or doing graduate studies in physics you visited Germany; you were interested in philosophy your next stop is England.  That is what Noam Chomsky wrote in his small but packed book “Reflection on the university”.

The US was sort of lost hole, of what corresponded to the Midwest for the Eastern US citizens.  During the WWII, many European scientists and intellectuals fled Germany, Italy, and France to settle in the US.  The US society and intellectuals resented these eminently educated people and made their best not to extending the appropriate university posts to them.

Many highly qualified European intellectuals and scientists had to work as assistant or translator… There was an impression that Europeans had demonstrated decadence and volatility in their behavior due to successive murderous wars and political intransigence.  The US wanted to integrate these new comers in their business mentality, the American way of leading respectable life.  

For 20 years after WWII, it never crossed the mind of US Administrations and strategic planners to consult with European States:  It was not proper to ask counsel to unstable, emotive, and not serious partners.   The decisions were taken and later shared:  If the European agreed it was fine.  The US intended all along to going solo anyway.

At the end of WWII, the US produced 50% of the world wealth and its navy and armies were spread on every sea and ocean and on almost every land  on the world map. During the Cuba missile crisis in 1962, the Kennedy Administration refused to consult with the European governments: This was the main cause for thewrath of France President Charles De Gaulle who decided to take the drastic decision to imposing France independence from US plans and programs.

Nothing changed in the US attitudes even in the 90’s:  Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright during Bill Clinton, told the UN assembly that the US had huge interests in Iraq and will act unilaterally if the US policies do not please the UN members.  

When the International Court, in 1986, condemned the US for “illegal usage of force” against the people in Nicaragua the general attitude was of totally despising the court ruling:  Crimes against human rights of the UN Charters could not be applicable to the US, the sole superpower State.

Chomsky reminisces that at the end of the 40’s, US universities refused to teach the “history” of any discipline.  Whatever was worth learning started in the US:  It never crossed their mind that the European scientists and intellectuals have resolved most of the problems and established many disciplines centuries ago.  

Many US graduate students were shocked that their thesis were already analyzed and resolved centuries ago.  If you wanted to read European works you had to visit Harvard’s Widener library.

Aside from US arrogance of considering anything not originating in the US as a waste of time and effort to study, the 40’s witnessed huge progress in technological advances such as in electronics, mass computing, theory of communication, integration of natural sciences in general laws (sort of unifying physics, chemistry, and biology).

It was at that period that Skinner behaviorist theory spread in the social disciplines:  All studies had to be operational and realistic.  For most of the 50’s and early 60’s, the US people had no idea what was happening in South Vietnam, although dailies didn’t mention the news on the first pages.  As long as napalm destroyed one hospital, it is was not a big deal ethically.

For example, the slaughter that the British colonialists in Kenya (1952-59) submitted the Kenyans during the “Mau Mau” uprising was not even known: These activities drew blank stares from the US citizens; at best, Kenya is a scarcely populated region, not as dense as Hungary.  

When hundreds of atrocities committed by the US army in Vietnam made the news every day, it started to dawn on the US people that what was taking place was an immoral invasion and crimes against humanity.

For example, the incursions of the Soviet Union of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968 were considered invasions, the wars of the US in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama…were legitimate preemptive wars, as would the invasion of Iraq in 2003.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

March 2011
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