Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Comment on Sham (Syrian Arab Republic)

The following is a comment I made on Prof. Joshua Landis' Syria Comment blog, in response to an inquiry by another participant regarding my posting of articles and reports from state media in Sham:

Dear OTW:

You should know very well that I am very critical of the regime in Syria and of its oppressive and repressive methods since the arrival of the Baath to power in 1963 (even though oppression in Syria did not begin with the Baath but continued after their ascension to power). I also believe that its propaganda is quite crude, bombastic, and just plain dumb, so I do not really subscribe to it in general. And this whole charade of people chanting “bel rou7 bel dam” or “allah, souriya, bashar w bass” is to me a display of reactionary rhetoric, backwards thinking, and ignorance. Moreover, I have repeated numerously that ultimately the regime should be held accountable for what transpires in Syria, as the situation is not forever sustainable and its failure to implement real and serious reforms is going to lead to consequences that the regime is responsible for.

My criticism of the regime, however, does not blind me to what is being cooked up for Syria. I do not operate from the springboard of hatred and spite such that I would rather destroy the country than see the regime survive another day. I have made clear on several occasions that I want what is best for Syria, not what is worst for the regime. What is taking place today in Syria is not a revolution by any stretch of the imagination. Although it started out with some protests here and there, most of these protests were very small and limited to specific areas and groups. There was never a clear presence on the street by the masses in rejection of their government, as was the case in Egypt. In addition, I found many of the protests to be repulsive and not representative of the Syria I’d like to see, specifically those calling for the end of mixed-sex schools and chanting slogans against Shiites, Iran, and Hizballah, which to me has nothing to do with demands for freedom and reform, but is rather an expression of the most vulgar form of sectarianism.

What we then witnessed was the steady descension of these protests into acts of violence and destruction combined with the most crude forms of vulgar propaganda, aimed not merely at opposing government repression, but rather at inciting people to violence by appealing to their base emotions, using hate-mongering and sectarian incitement. The videos, pictures, and stories that were being spread were intended to create a reaction stemming from pure hatred, which is always a dangerous reaction that is most likely to lead to chaos and division, rather than one based on rational thought. Videos of unknown and unverified “killings” and “massacres” allegedly by the regime against unarmed protesters were being spread in conjunction with filthy sectarian terms, such as “the Nusairi regime”, “Alawi regime,” “minority rule,” etc. which can lead to nothing but increased divisiveness in society.

What’s more is that most media organizations, both western and Arab, were peddling this propaganda and participating in attempting to incite Syrians through sectarian agitation. We kept reading time and again articles reminding everyone that Syria was a country of a “sunni majority” “ruled by a Alawite minority.” Over and over terms of “Alawite”, “Sunni”, “minority”, “majority”, “Shiite”, “Iran”, “Hizballah”, etc. were drilled into our heads in an apparent attempt to ensure that these divisive terms are imprinted in the minds of Syrians, so that all actions they take would be based on them and not on a feeling of true national consciousness. This was combined with the fact that the presence of armed groups spreading terror and chaos became increasingly evident, calling into question this entire movement from its core.

All this made it clear to me that there was a sinister agenda at play here, which was completely detached from the rightful demands of the majority of Syrians for genuine reforms. It was clear that there is a plan in place to take Syria from a state of stability to a state of chaos and confusion, as such a state is likely to do nothing but further weaken and disable a country. I saw that these foreign media outlets were active participants in this agenda in the way they reported the news and in their providing of platforms for reactionary individuals to spread their vulgar ideas, as was the case with Al-Jazeera and the debased Yousef al-Qardawi.

Therefore, I found it most critical that first and foremost we put a stop to the spreading of this destructive propaganda which can lead nowhere but to the descent of the country into violence and chaos. The only websites and news outlets that were carrying reports and articles rebutting these pieces of propaganda were unfortunately what people regard as “regime” or “pro-regime” sources. I found many of these reports and articles to be much more credible and believable than the hateful propaganda being spread by the so-called “revolutionists” with the aid of the so-called “free” international media, which has proven time and again to be anything but “free.” Hence, I chose to post them and distribute them. This in no way means that I subscribe to all regime propaganda, much of which I find to be distasteful and downright stupid (such as the hours and hours of phone calls supporting “Bashar” we are subjected to).

I have been very clear that my aim is not to overthrow the regime just for the sake of overthrowing it, regardless of what replaces it. I do not believe in satisfying grudges and settling scores as a basis of bringing about changes for the benefit of the country. I have particular disdain for uncontroled chaos and violence and destructive behavior. Moreover, I know for a fact that many Syrians on the ground have struggled and sacrificed, in a constructive manner, for the sake of improving their country, and they have been witnessing some of the fruits of their struggle, only to witness some destructive elements attempt to throw it all in the dumpster for the sake of narrow interests and service of foreign agendas. Finally, I am quite confident that President Bashar al-Assad is indeed serious about bringing about changes and implementing serious reforms that are going to change the political landscape in Syria, and to put a stake in the heart of this move toward reform for the sake of chaos and destruction, seems to me to be utterly counterproductive.

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