Sunday, May 05, 2013

 Again and again the Syrian revolution is condemned as some kind of foreign “conspiracy” that is aimed against the self-described bastion of Arab resistance to Israel. Last night’s Israeli attack against an Assad regime research facility in Damascus has brought out of the wood work all sorts of individuals who, silent in the face of the massacre in the coastal city of Banyas for the past three days, have suddenly found their voices. The similarity in the pictures we saw coming out of Banyas this past few days were truly horrific, and reminiscent of the images we saw from the Sabra and Chatilla massacres during the Lebanese civil war. Yet these self-styled anti-imperialists did not retweet and angrily condemn these murders. They chose silence and wilful ignorance instead.

Today they are trying to portray the Israeli air raids last night as an attack on Syrian sovereignty, as if that is not what Assad has been doing to Syrians for the past two and a half years. Apart from the evident hypocrisy of this position, there are also two fallacies underlying their argument. Firstly that the Syrian regime represents Syria, and that an attack on it is an attack on the country and its people, and the second is that Israel did this in support of the Syrian revolution.

With regards to the second point most Syrians, including those who support the revolution, are missing the fact that Israel hasn’t got the slightest concern about the Syrian revolution or the Syrians who are dying. It is focused first and foremost in its battle with Iran and Hezbullah, and has consistently stated that it will not let the more advanced weaponry in Syria’s arsenal falling into Hezbullah’s arms. When it attacks Assad’s bases and arsenals, it is doing so with a clear strategy.

Syrians supporting the revolution should neither cheer nor lament the involvement of Israel’s attacks on Assad’s arsenal. From a practical point of view it is very much an advantage to the revolution (armed as well as peaceful), as it is far better for the regime’s arsenal and advanced divisions to be obliterated than that they be used against Syrian towns and villages. We have seen the piles of bodies in Banyas and countless Syrian villages and cities, on a week so close to the anniversary of the Houla massacre perpetrated by Assad regime thugs, and these images will forever be engraved in the collective memory of Syrians. Never again must we allow ourselves to be in such a position, that Syrians be slaughtered like sheep in an abattoir.

To cheer for Israel’s attack on Assad, apart from being misguided, makes the mistake of siding with one oppressor against another. How different is it, then, that people would side with Iran simply because it claims to be fighting for the Palestinians? This is a fallacy, and more importantly the answer is not to wag the finger at Israel and claim that once we finish with Assad we will drive over and liberate Jerusalem in a Golgotha of blood. International law, human rights, and morality are with us as they are with the Palestinian people, and it is through this path that we can then achieve true justice for all and make good cause with good people across the world.

True Syrian sovereignty begins with us as people and not as a regime. It is when we realise this simple political fact that we can decide how best to champion the cause of oppressed people the world over. We as Syrians, and the Syrian transitional government should take note, have a unique opportunity to right the wrongs of the past, and to be a shining beacon of human rights and democracy not just to the Middle East but to the world. We can and should create a national self-belief that we are a unique mix of people who will never accept might as right. A Syria committed to human rights and the rule of law will protect itself from Israeli missiles and warplanes far better than expensive, and largely ineffective, Russian S-300 air defence systems. When we become the change that we have fought for so fervently, we will become far better champions for the downtrodden than all the divisions of Hezbullah and Iran put together.

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