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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Syria - Revolution and History

Syria is the victim of its own murderous ethnic and religious competition but also, it is the play thing of superpowers and competing imperial aspirants for Islamic Colonial ambitions.

Western funding of the Syrian opposition is now under active discussion. We are informed that it is the only way to prevent further mass slaughter from occurring in Syria (and perhaps spreading beyond its borders).  But Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar already fund the Syrian opposition. They have armed the thousands of fighters whose hostility to the secular ‘democratic’ opposition will openly express itself once Assad’s regime has fallen.

Revolutionary causes have a long and dishonorable history of settling scores in their quest for absolute power.  In the pursuit of perfection, repression is the States favored instrument for enforcing unity. The Utopian dreams of the French Revolution soon turned into the Reign of Terror, Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution became the Red Terror and the Iranian Revolution quickly found reason to lethally suppress all opposition. 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was President of Iran during this pivotal early period of state ‘consolidation’ while the recently elected President of Iran (Hassan Rohani) was Khamenei’s personal representative to the Iranian National Security Council from 1989 until 2005.  Continuity in conflict is a core belief of the radical racist Iranian regime.

This short reminder of revolutionary history and its malevolent predisposition to violence is not meant to be a warning against political change but only as a warning against becoming embroiled in the inevitable Syrian bloodbath. In the previous article I quoted Shoshana Bye – she stated that:  “It is not about allies and friends – it is about history and interests.” Defining the situational aspect of the conflict is an issue that directly impacts our response to the ongoing conflict.  When we choose sides it must be for the right reason and not political expediency. When we pour arms into a conflict that has no clear good guys and bad guys we are simply adding oil to the inevitable inferno.  If we arm the Syrian rebels then Russia and Iran will arm Assad and Hezbollah. The quality and the lethality of the weaponry in use will increase with ever more devastating consequences.

The nightmare scenario for Syria is that it will become the new Lebanon. At the height of the Lebanese civil war 22 separate militias acted independently within Lebanon. They represented the disparate religious and ethnic groups; allegiances and alliances changed according to the persuasive powers of the warlord with the biggest gun.

Syria is 18 times as large in land area as Lebanon and has 5 times the population but this only means the carnage could be considerably worse than what Lebanon suffered during the civil war it fought between 1975 and 1990.

A brief summary of the main players follows:

The FSA (Free Syrian Army) is a loose band of opposition parties fighting to defeat the regime. Its leader Riad al-Asaad stated that the FSA had no political goals except the removal of President Assad.  The problem is that fighting along side of the FSA are al-Qaeda affiliated bands of militants, many of its own members are from the Muslim Brotherhood and some will be from the even more violently racist Salafist movement. There is an inherent weakness in the opposition that fails to provide it with a cohesive focus.

Apocalyptic rhetoric has usually been reserved for Iran’s irrational leader’s religious belligerence and through Shiite Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, its international agencies, but it is also a characteristic of Sunni extremism expressed via al-Qaeda (and its world-wide affiliates).

Iran has been pouring arms and manpower into the Syrian conflict in support of its Shia ally for many years.  This was acknowledged by General Mohammad Ali Jafari (Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard) when he said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (the elite special operations unit ‘al-Quds force’) were present in Syria and Lebanon - but only to provide "counsel."   It was the first time the Guards had publicly acknowledged the presence of al-Quds members in Syria. (Ynet 16 Sept, 2012)

If Bashar al-Assad survives, Iran will have a far more significant influence over Syria than it does today and Lebanon will once again tremble.  If the regime survives, Iran will control an arc of radicalized Shiite states stretching from Western Afghanistan through Iraq into Syria and ending in Lebanon. It will embolden radicals in Iraq and Iran.  If the Shiite Syrian bloc is destroyed a Sunni regime will emerge from the ashes of the Alawite dictatorship.  Almost certainly it will be hostile to Iran, the Iranian presence in Lebanon and elsewhere. 

Ancient indigenous Christian communities have been everywhere in the Arab world, passionately more pro-Arab than their Muslim neighbours. This demonstrable fealty protected the faithful. But it no longer works in Iraq nor has it protected Egyptian Copts.  Both communities have suffered marginalization and dispossession. In Iraq we must speak of the ethnic cleansing of the ancient Iraqi Christian communities, reduced to no more than a quarter of their size in a quarter of a century.  They are doomed to extinction as was the Jewish community before them. But the international community will not deliberate on either of these crimes against humanity.

The same fate of dispossession that befell the regions indigenous Jewish population now almost certainly awaits Syria’s Christians.

If the human story is about history and interests and not about choosing between good and evil then we have not learned from the carnage of the twentieth century.  Pain and suspicion are godparents to human conflict.  Nourished by superstition and greed they represent an inability to look beyond narrow historical considerations.

If Russia and the USA cannot bring about a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict there is little hope for anywhere else in the Mediterranean Basin.  That basin extends into Western Asia and North Africa but it also serves as the gateway to Europe.  Its destabilization serves Iran on one side and al-Qaeda on the other. The Hapsburg Empire was known as the Sick man of Europe and its decline led to World War 1.  Syria could similarly trigger the next world war.

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