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Syria Civil War: A long time colonial engineered catastrophe…

10 Do’s and Don’ts for “Progressive minded people” Discussing Syria

With Syria back in the news due to the horrific chemical weapons attack last week, which killed 600, and threats from the US to engage in military strikes, Kudami had the idea of listing  are few do’s and don’ts for progressive/radical anti-war organizations/activists in the US and to figure out a proper response in their discussions.

RAMAH KUDAIMI, a Syrian-American activist in DC, posted on Counter punch this August 28, 2013 (with slight editing, and my additional comments in parenthesis)

1. DON’T in any way say or imply both sides are wrong. Or to say “it’s not clear who we would be supporting if we get involved militarily….”

This is an insult to every Syrian who has and continues to go out in the streets and protest both the regime and those forces who are looking to use this time of war to assert their own power over others. (This was true in the first 7 months of the start of the upheaval in 2011, and lately in the Kurd dominated regions in the north east)

It is a shame how many progressive groups in the US just jump on the “both sides are bad” wagon so we shouldn’t get involved.

There are over one million children who are refugees and that is the fault of the regime. It is the regime who is bombing cities with jets; it is the regime that has ruled the country with brutal force for decades.

Any statement that doesn’t acknowledge this is again an insult to those who have sacrificed so much.

2. DON’T over conflate Iraq and Syria (meaning match the same tragedy?).  Just as ludicrous those who look to Kosovo as an example of unilateral US military intervention in order to support a strike in Syria.

It is quite pathetic when so many progressives and leftists are just obsessed with supposedly false chemical weapons claims. There are 100,000 Syrians dead, the majority killed by conventional weapons.

So there are a million and one excuses for the US to intervene and faking chemical weapons attacks is not needed. There is also no basis I believe in claiming al Qaeda has access and uses such weapons (Carla del Ponte of the UN beg to differ: The insurgents used sarin gas this April in the town of Khan al Assal near Aleppo)

Al Qaeda fought the US for a decade in Iraq and not once deployed such weapons (They didn’t possess them? Sort of getting their hands on deadly chemical agents in Syrian army depots and quickly applied them?)

But all of a sudden they’re using them in Syria? And if the rebels had these weapons, the regime would’ve fallen a long time ago (not that rational a conclusion, since Syrian regime is one of the top nations that hoards chemical weapons)

3. DON’T obsess over al-Qaeda, Islamist extremists, jihadists, etc. (Not living among you?)

Since 9/11, progressive minded people have rightly shunned the use of all these labels when it comes to the US War on Terror, yet we now use them freely when it comes to Syria (or anywhere in the Islamic world) and actually believe it.

The overwhelming majority of Syrians, both those who have taken arms and those who continue to resist through nonviolent means, have nothing to do with the extremist groups and are rising up against all forces who are destroying their country, whether they be regime or supposed “opposition” groups.

It is also important to understand that the Free Syria Army is not a central command army with orders given from the top. It is a loosely affiliated group of different battalions and anyone can claim to be part of it.

4. DO point out all the US failures toward Syria and how dropping bombs on the country is not what is needed.

I personally don’t believe that US is going to get militarily involved. They promised weapons to the rebels and have yet to deliver.

No way is the US getting in because as has been pointed out by Gen. Martin Dempsey and in a NYT opinion piece, “it is so much useful for US interests for Syrians to kill each other…” (It doesn’t follow that a restricted strike is not meant to enflame the region even further…)

I think taking a position of the US should not get involved through a military intervention is fine.

DON’T put it as “Hands off Syria” implying this is some kind of American conspiracy.

DON’T argue this is about US not having a right to taking sides in a civil war.

DON’T make it all about money for home since we do want more humanitarian aid.

DO frame it as what will help bring the suffering of Syrians to an end.

5. DO point out US hypocrisy as it judges Russia for sending weapons to the regime.

Just last week a story came out that the US is sending $640 million worth of cluster bombs to (this obscurantist) Saudi monarchy.

Weapons continue to flow to Egypt, Bahrain, and Israel despite massive human rights violations.

DO call for an end to all sales of weapons to all regimes in the region.

6. DON’T let genuine concerns with US imperialism, Israel, Saudi… make you look at pictures and videos of dead children and think conspiracy.

Bashar Assad is an authoritarian dictator and his record of resistance is a bit sketchy. Just remember he collaborated with the US on things such as CIA renditions.

Just because the CIA is training a few fighters in Jordan or some anonymous rebel leader is quoted in some Israeli paper doesn’t mean this isn’t a legitimate Syrian uprising against a brutal regime.

7. DO highlight the continued bravery of the Syrian people who take to the streets and protest against the regime, extremists, and all others looking to destroy their struggle for freedom and dignity.

As in everywhere, coverage of violence trumps coverage of continued nonviolent resistance.

8. DO strongly urge people to donate for humanitarian aid. Between deaths, imprisonments, internal displacement, and refugees, I think 30-40% of the Syrian population is in one way or another uprooted.

9. I have no actual solutions to suggest on how to encourage people to support (a political transitional peace negotiation?)

Perhaps pushing for an actual ceasefire might be an option, which would require pressure on Russia to tell Bashar to back down (and the western nations to desist recovering a military balance on the field in Syria).

I know my not having answers about how to resolve anything is a shortcoming, but sometimes the best course of action is to just be in solidarity with folks in their struggle through simply recognizing it.

10. Syrians deserve the same respect for their struggle as all other struggles in the region: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and always Palestine.

Ramah Kudaimi can follow her on Twitter @ramahkudaimi.

Note1: It was inconceivable that any free thinking Syrian could support this enduring 40-year dictatorship and humiliations before 2012.  Around 2012, the popular tide has shifted, not in support of the dictatorial regime, but:

1.  Against the extreme religious alternative of the Nusra Front ideology.

2. The Syrian people want to survive and only the institutions of a government can supply the needed daily requirement for survival.

3. The Syrian people are convinced that any political resolution for a transitional government will clip the wings of this horrible dictatorship.

4. In the mean time, the minority religious sects have better side with the government or flee the country as the Nusra Front advances…

In any case, the current Syrian army is united and has acquired field engagement against the staunchest of well-trained resistance forces from dozen countries.

Note 2: The initial insurgents were not sectarians, until the regime on purpose liberated over one thousand leading extremist jihadists from prisons without any preconditions, in order for those radical Islamists to ignite this civil war with the flame of sectarian overtone…


adonis49

adonis49

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January 2021
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