Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to t...


Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to the US Attack on Syria Means You Support the Asad Regime’
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by Vijay Prashad Dear Friend:

Sep 02 2013

You are in Syria, somewhere in Damascus. You have been involved in various protests to fight for more democratic space in Syria, and then, after the early months of 2011, to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Asad. I have learned a great deal from people like you, about your country and about the nature of the struggles that confront you. You have seen the tide go out in your disfavor on two fronts: first, an international environment that seemed to be in harmony with your goals, but then turned out to be as conflicted about “regime change” as you are certain about it; second, an internal opposition that seemed to mimic the early wellsprings of the Arab uprisings [Image from wikipedia.] in North Africa in its multivalent diversity, but then turned out to be hijacked by imperialist interests and by radical jihadis that you find intolerant and dangerous. As the politics goes against your more secular nationalism and democratic liberalism, and as you feel isolated in every which way, the advent of a US bombing raid seemed to be a deus ex machine—a thundercloud from Zeus himself. Such a clap of lightening on the hardened bases of military power would perhaps knock the wind out of the Asad regime, making it possible for people like you to clamber to the top of a revolutionary dynamic. History offers you no hope of success along this path. On the wings of empire can come only grief. Recent interventions, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya, have not ended well for its people. In the month of August 2013, 804 people died in Iraq—numbers that rival the death rates of the worst period of sectarian violence. Libya’s security situation is torturous for its people, with assassinations and random violence the order of the day. The people of Afghanistan, and their twin in Yemen, face untold misery through night raids and drone strikes, and with few of the main human obstacles undone by the occupation. The United States and its North Atlantic partners make extraordinary rhetorical pledges on behalf of human rights and for humanitarian relief, but these rarely translate into reality. Set aside the human rights record of the North Atlantic itself, whether in its colonial phase but equally in the present moment when it has been known to block routinely international regulations on arms sales and on the use of dangerous weapons. Set aside as well the internal human rights problems in the North Atlantic, whether against immigrants or against workers. Such things shall not detain us here. We should look only at the way the North Atlantic has used “human rights” in its military adventures. First, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states use “human rights” as pretext for war-making, but care little for the regime of human rights which would include reconciliation of the parties and investigation of the manner in which wars are conducted. NATO went to war in Libya based on a UN Security Council resolution. When asked if it would allow an investigation of its bombing campaign by a UN commission, NATO’s legal counsel Peter Olsen wrote in a letter dated 15 February 2012, “We would accordingly request that, in the event that the commission elects to include a discussion of NATO actions in Libya, its report clearly state that NATO did not deliberately target civilians and did not commit war crimes in Libya.” NATO states used an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant to go to war in Libya, but they have since been stubborn in their refusal to allow the ICC to execute these warrants against Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi (held in Zintan, Libya). The regime of human rights has been trampled by NATO states, whose interests are to use the language of human rights for its sectional interests rather than fight to create a robust human rights system

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Wednesday 04 September 2013 12:18 PM

It threatened to act in late August only because the US President Barack Obama had the previous year fallen into the trap of the “red-lines. Obama had chosen. His words came back to bite him (although we do not know yet with any certainty about those chemical weapons). whose warheads might or might not be tipped with depleted uranium (DU). Why has the United States been unwilling to conduct a Libyan-style air war on behalf of the rebels in Syria? For one. If the North Atlantic states are cynical with their use of the language of human rights. The United States says that it wants to bomb Syria to punish the Asad regime for its use of chemical weapons. Little more than a third of the SHARP request has been committed. It will be 2 of 5 Wednesday 04 September 2013 12:18 PM .Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to t. The UN has criticized governments for being “slow to commit funds” and even slower to deliver the money.7 percent of the 343 million dollars of the emergency non-food aid has been transferred. The United States used such weapons in Iraq. What comes next is not going to be the return of the old regime. to fire a barrage of Tomahawk missiles. It will use dangerous chemicals to protest the use of dangerous chemicals. These are the consequences of an imperialist bombardment.. The commitment of the NATO states to the fall of Asad is shallow. that it sold to the Assad government within the past three years. Pledges of financial support to the crucial UN agencies are made at the frequent conferences.com/pages/index/13938/letter-to-a-s. sandwiched between the expatriate leadership of the Free Syrian Army and the heinous fractions of jihadis.. but would be unlikely to degrade the military capacity of the regime. to benefit the wellbeing of the people of the planet. Israel. they would open their vast coffers to take care of the immediate needs of the Syrian refugees. It will violate law in order to pretend to uphold law. They are committed to a weakened Iran and Hezbollah.jadaliyya. you say to me. chaos in Libya is a price that the NATO states are willing to pay as long as the oil continues to flow and the migrants do not. they would increase the actual financial resources given to the refugees. three million are children. and the childhood cancer rate was twelve times greater than those before the use of DU in Fallujah in 2004.25 million internally displaced people. they are equally limited in their appropriation of the idea of humanitarian relief. With Syria. the nervous system abnormalities at birth were thirty-three times that in Europe. before he was blocked by the UK parliament. Asad is neither here nor there.8 million Syrians under UN care. and only 3. including 4. and the United States). and if the Gulf Arab states were equally humanitarian. His braggadocio is that of a man who knows that he has nothing to lose. In other words. All this is well and good. such as nerve gas. as are his class allies. chaos that threatens Israel and that allows Hezbollah to continue to get logistical support from Iran is unacceptable. One hundred and fifty-five countries worry that depleted uranium will contaminate groundwater and produce environmental and health hazards for generations. and even that was too much for Tel Aviv). Second. What alternatives do you have? Do you expect us to have to tuck our dreams to sleep and return to the status quo ante? But the status quo ante is no longer possible.” Unable to act in any way in 2012.. It is far better to allow Syria to bleed and to let a maelstrom of internecine warfare blind Hezbollah and the jihadis than to allow any kind of Islamist regime in power in Damascus. The most recent Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) from June 2013 shows that there are now 6. The US military says that the Tomahawks have “limited tactical effect”–which means they would create random destruction in Syria.. But keep in mind that it will likely use Tomahawk missiles. Asad is weakened. Iraq 2005-2009) found that the rate of heart defects was thirteen times that in Europe. It will get self-righteous about chemical weapons. Of these. the United Kingdom. a million of whom have been edged out of Syria. http://www. You are part of the Syrian rebellion. If the North Atlantic states were truly interested in humanitarianism. Bombing Syria will simply displace more people into penury. the Libyan engagement did not work out as well as the NATO states assumed: chaos reigns supreme in the country. If the North Atlantic states were truly humanitarian. Your claim is that the US bombardment is to overthrow Assad. the United States will punish the Asad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons by bombing Syria with a weapon that the UN General Assembly has four times asked to be sanctioned (but cannot because of the votes against these resolutions from France. he threatened that he would act if the Asad regime used chemical weapons. which is what motivates their cynical policy. Asad is preferable to Israel than a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader (the Syrian Brotherhood is far more radical than the Egyptian Ikhwan. but this is precisely not the war aim of the United States. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that almost sixty-five percent of the needs of Syrian refugees are unmet. To respond. they would finance the removal of these refugees from dangerous zones to safe havens. where a 2010 study (Cancer. Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah. and the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi has made the US political class skittish of full action on behalf of rebels whose political views spank of anti-Americanism. Only one percent of the eleven million dollars requested for food and nutrition for the Syrian refugees has been delivered.

this is the opening of Dastoor. Matters are far from pre-2011. its history. Neither the regime nor the rebels want to put their focus on this problem. The UN would underwrite such a conference. which will have thrown at least ten million people into displacement by the end of the year. What will stop the violence? Not the regime. These four neighbors have the bulk of the 1. but only the future. which would allow the neighboring states to have a formal platform to begin consultation for their common crisis. the violence has mutated so that the Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Levant and Iraq are at war with the Kurdish protection committees (YPG). But now the cord of Syrian nationalism is wrapped around the neck of the Syrian people. whatever the pressure from below can produce as an alternative.9 million refugees. including how these countries will tackle the extra problem of another winter for the refugees in temporary shelter.Main naheen maanta. A Syrian Refugee Crisis Conference would necessitate that the regional states move from practical matters to political ones–they. For you. If the region is serious about a political process it might want to begin where it has needs. my friend. along with Syrians themselves. they will be drawn further into the vortex of Syria.258 in Iraq. I recognize that you are in the midst of a civil war and that what I propose sounds to you like surrender. Syria’s neighbors are weighted down with the refugee crisis. Anything else will simply lead to the destruction of your country. who taste victory even when it smacks of blood in your mouth. and close to one hundred and fifty thousand people to their deaths. Humans have complex minds. 517. Lebanon is on edge. It is for us on the Left to foster those desires. to come to the table and hatch out a plan for de-escalation of the war and renewal of a political process. which threatens to morph and has morphed to some degree into a political crisis. Iraq returns to sectarian fissures that it has tried to paper over.Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to t. a taste of the great Pakistani leftwing poet Habib Jalib. Steals away the people’s happiness. In the northern belt. The fifty-seven percent funding gap that the UN’s SHARP faces leaves the Syrians vulnerable to the harsh weather that will approach. That violence. Such bloodshed is unacceptable. led to almost fifty thousand people rushing over a pontoon bridge into Iraq over a weekend.Chand logon ki khushyon ko lay ker chalay. There are now 704.. particularly when there is no light at the end of this long tunnel that runs from Homs to Aleppo.Subh-e-bay noor ko.. You wish to fight on. Car bombs in Beirut and in Tripoli are an indicator of the latter. 440. The refugee and humanitarian relief crisis is acute. nor the execution chambers of Jabhat al-Nusra.. will be the ones who will suffer most if the situation destabilizes further. A mediated peace alongside a process for genuine democratization guaranteed by your neighboring states would strengthen the chances for the renewal of your national ambitions.. who are only the symptom. bringing Bilad al-Sham into the madness that has overtaken its heartland.Wo jo saye main har maslihat kay palay. They are too centered on the frontline.Aisay dastoor ko.Main naheen jaanta. But nothing of a political nature is going to come if the violence continues. Not the rebels. neither the guns of NATO nor the neoliberal spirits of the Gulf Arab regimes. but the violence inside Syria. asphyxiating your dreams of sovereignty and freedom. of the battlefield. which would mean coordinated regional pressure on the actors in Syria. I am not in favor of the gallows of Ba‘th. and its future. and even more complex ambitions. If the regional states do nothing. The roots of the crisis are not the stream of refugees.com/pages/index/13938/letter-to-a-s. Neither of you are willing to see that the human suffering is not worth the chances of triumph. which is ready to fight to the end. with the messianic view that eventually you will prevail over the regime of Asad.168 in Jordan. The light that shines alone in palaces. all of whom rely on the region for logistical support of one kind or the other. but the odds are stacked against you as much as they are stacked against the Asad regime that it will have a complete victory. Jordan’s monarchy is on the line. from Damascus to Hama. from 1962: Deep jis ka sirf mehellaat hi mein jalay. Neither this nor that. Mine is not the politics of two sides. None of the sides see this as possible at this point. where the Asad regime is not involved. http://www. 3 of 5 Wednesday 04 September 2013 12:18 PM . This might be the case. and where it can have an impact: call for a Regional Syrian Refugee Crisis Conference. Any Syrian Refugee Crisis Conference would have to eventually turn to the political question. Empire enjoys watching the two sides battle like caged mice. The Inter-Sector Coordination group of the UN agencies would be helped by a regional platform of member states.877 registered refugees in Lebanon. and 155.jadaliyya. Syria deserves better. but if the regional partners are serious about it they may leave the various factions no choice but to come to the table.773 in Turkey. and not to fall prey to the choices of the present. weakening each other to its advantage. The practical matters of relief can be dealt with at such a forum. That is one reality that all sides need to recognize.

I refuse. Latest posts in Politics: http://www. Kaldas · Follow · Professor at Nile University · 472 subscribers Why would you choose to write such a condescending piece? If you disagree with the strikes explain why directly? Don't write a piece that treats Syrians as small delusional historically ignorant people. I am aware how problematic it is in terms of legality.bandepleteduranium.. Syria News Update (2 September 2013) Add a comment.com.. It appears the Left isn't any more immune to patronizing actual suffering in the developing world than the right.com/ michael. Santa Cruz Michael Pugliese · Second sentence: "might".501/posts/630036090350169?comment_id=6806801&offset=0& total_comments=3. California Best commentary on Syria yet. a Westerner. Even the anti-DU activists think that's ridiculous: http://www.Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to t. See More Reply · 3 · Like · Follow Post · Edited · 14 hours ago Rob Mcb · San Francisco. to stand still in the face of the aggression of Bashar al-Assad. how you should fight your war and what sort of response you should desire. Turkey Media Roundup (September 3) If you prefer. Third sentence: "will". Feigns its strength from other’s weakness..com/pages/index/13938/letter-to-a-s.. I don't the world. journalist.. Logical discontinuity. including USA. I think the rhetoric of the article is less sympathetic to the Syrians than it is ideologically motivated against USA and the NATO. email your comments to info@jadaliyya. as long as it furthers their political goals. I deny. a Syrian.org/en/a/404. on the other hand.facebook. real intentions. Reply · Like · Follow Post · 13 hours ago Timothy E. For shame." This is the most self-centered commentary I've seen yet.. Post to Facebook Brad Fisher · American University Wait. this letter basically boils down to "let me. On the wings of empire can come only grief. tell you. Reply · 4 · Like · Follow Post · 15 hours ago Michael Emonds · Reply · Follow · Autodidacte College of Arts Posting as Aditya Kapoor (Change) Comment Vijay Prashad is actually an Indian historian. Reply · Like · Follow Post · 23 minutes ago Facebook social plugin Jadaliyya About Jadaliyya Jadaliyya Team Contributors 4 of 5 Wednesday 04 September 2013 12:18 PM .") .pugliese. Believe me. That kind of system. the article or the letter treats us Syrians as ignorant who do not know about the history of imperialism and American intervention in the region. and potential outcomes. And why the hell would you tip a cruise missile with DU? That's used for penetrating armor.htm Via https://www. But.. not exploding things.. Dawn without light.jadaliyya. 2 · Like · 9 hours ago Mohammad Magout · ISMC Brad is absolutely right. we know much more than you at least by means of direct or indirect experience. Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 7:50am Top Commenter · University of California. I'm personally very ambivalent toward the strike. This is the least convincing approach you could have chosen to take. It is very selective in its historical account of American intervention ("History offers you no hope of success along this path.

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