[News] Syrian's Say No to Intervention
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 4 12:00:52 EDT 2014
June 04, 2014
*Syrian's Say No to Intervention*
The Syrian Elections
by AJAMU BARAKA
Defying threats of violence, tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians went
to the polls to cast a vote that was more about Syrian dignity and
self-determination than any of the candidates on the ballot. After three
years of unimaginable atrocities fomented by a demented and dying U.S.
empire, with the assistance of the royalist monarchies of the Middle
East and the gangster states of NATO, the Syrian people demonstrated, by
their participation, that they had not surrendered their national
sovereignty to the geo-strategic interests of the U.S. and its colonial
allies in Europe and Israel.
The dominant narrative on Syria, carefully cultivated by Western state
propagandists and dutifully disseminated by their auxiliaries in the
corporate media, is that the conflict in Syria is a courageous fight on
the part of the majority of the Syrian people against the brutal
dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. As the story goes, the al-Assad
"regime," (it is never referred to as a government), can only maintain
its power through the use of force. By attacking "its own citizens," the
regime, representing the minority Alawite community, can only maintain
its dominance over the rest of the country through sheer terror.
However, events in Syria, with the election being a dramatic example,
continue to reveal fissures in that story.
First, it became clear that substantial numbers of non-Alawite people
and communities support the government. And even those elements of
Syrian society that were not enthusiastic supporters of the government
grew to understand that the legitimate indigenous opposition had been
displaced by powerful non-Syrian forces from the U.S. and the Gulf
States who provided material, political and diplomatic support to an
opposition that not only had tenuous ties to the country but seemed only
committed to waging war. This convinced many that the only politically
consistent option was to support the government, as an expression of
support for Syria's sovereignty and its' national project.
As a result, not only did popular support for the government hold over
the last three years of carnage, it expanded to include those in the
opposition who were against the destruction of the country and the slimy
Syrian ex-pats who traveled from one European capital to another begging
for the U.S. and NATO to do what it did in Libya -- destroy the
infrastructure of the country through the use of NATO air power and
flood the country with weapons.
But the most graphic undermining of the dominant Western narrative has
been the participation of tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians who have
braved threats and violence to participate in the election process.
Western corporate news outlets, especially in the U.S., were unable to
explain the huge turnout of Syrian refugees voting in Lebanon preceding
the election on Tuesday, so they just decided not to cover it. Images of
Syrians displaced by war yet backing al Assad for president did not
support the carefully crafted story that the only people fleeting war
were those who had been terrorized to do so by the government.
Instead, the U.S. press raised the question of the "legitimacy" of
elections taking place in a country involved in a "civil war," a
position consistent with their narrative of the war being one between
the Syrian people and the government as opposed to what it has turned
out to be -- a war largely being fought by foreign forces, with the
indigenous opposition forces allied with the feckless Syrian National
Coalition; isolated, out-gunned and militarily irrelevant.
And while the U.S. press uncritically propagated the position of the
U.S. state, which wrote off the election as illegitimate and a farce,
the media seemed not to notice the contradictory position of the U.S.
writing off the election in Syria because of conflict but giving
enthusiastic support to the election in Ukraine in the midst of a
conflict and contested legitimacy. The Western media could explore a few
obvious questions if it was really independent, such as: what makes the
election in Ukraine legitimate when half of the country boycotts the
vote and the national army violently attacks its own citizens in Eastern
Ukraine who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-makers in Kiev?
Other questions might be: if they deem it appropriate to support an
election in Ukraine, why would the Obama Administration violently oppose
elections in Syria, especially if, as it claims, the majority of the
people oppose the current government? Wouldn't the illegitimacy of the
government in Syria be confirmed by the low turnout, even in areas where
there was a modicum of security? If Syrian authorities organized
opportunities for displaced Syrians in various countries around the
world to vote and very few participated, wouldn't that verify the
Administration's position that the al Assad government lacks popular
Yet in various European capitals and other countries like Turkey, United
Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt, efforts were made to block the
opportunity for displaced Syrians to vote in their election -- why? Were
the authorities afraid that the narrative of non-support for al Assad
might be challenged if there was a proliferation of images like the ones
that came out of Lebanon showing thousands of Syrians marching to the
polls holding signs of Bashar al Assad?
It will be interesting to see how the authorities and their spokespeople
in the corporate media spin the voting process in Syria.
*The U.S. position is a position of continued war in Syria *
Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Syria's presidential
election was a "farce,"
and that the U.S. and its partners are prepared to quickly redouble
efforts to support opposition forces in the county. The meaning of this
position is that it does not matter what kind of public display of
support is given to al Assad or anyone who might emerge as the head of
state in Syria, the U.S. objective is more death, more war and more chaos.
This is the essence of the "new" global strategy unveiled by President
Obama during his foreign policy speech
at West Point last week. The U.S. declaration that it will "change the
dynamics on the ground in Syria" came out of a meeting of the so-called
"Friends of Syria," a motley collection of 11 Western colonial nations
and their Arab creations. The Obama Administration intends to work
though these kinds of regional formations and alliances to advance its
strategic objectives with as minimal a cost to the U.S. as possible. Of
course, the interests and desires of the states or peoples involved are
of secondary concern. The desire on the part of the majority of the
people to end the conflict in Syria is not even considered. As part of
the effort to secure public support in the U.S. for destabilizing and
then attacking Syria it was posited that by deposing the al Assad
government a real democracy can be introduced. That is why policymakers
pretended to back so-called moderate elements that support democracy.
But over the last year or so, even that proposal has been eliminated.
Democracy in Syria is as much a threat to U.S. imperialist interests as
it is in Ukraine -- and increasingly even in the U.S.
Policymakers in Washington and London have already made the shift to
supporting what are being called "moderate" Islamists forces grouped
around the Islamic Front (IF) with al Nusrah, al Qaeda's official Syrian
affiliate, operating in the background. The problem for the Syrian
people is that these moderates the west is supporting are Salafi-Wahhabi
fundamentalists who reject representative democracy and support the
imposition of sharia law in Syria. So while the U.S. and their allies
characterize the election in Syria a farce, their solution is to back
forces who would eliminate even the pretext of democratic participation.
This is the progress that is being imposed on the secular, pluralist
society of Syria by the Western "liberators."
*It is not about al Assad, it is about the people of Syria and
Questions of democratic legitimacy have never determined U.S.
relationships with any state where the U.S. had strategic and economic
interests. If a commitment to democracy and democratic governance was
the determining factor for U.S. support, the Obama Administration would
not be in alliance with the dictatorship of the royalists in the Gulf
states, it would have condemned the coups in Honduras and Egypt, not
given diplomatic or economic support to the coup in Ukraine, and would
not be supporting right-wing elements in Venezuela attempting to
destabilize the democratically-elected government in that country.
There was a time when this position would have been clear to the peace
and anti-war, anti-imperialist progressive and left movements in the
U.S. and the West. But over the last two decades, with the ideological
infiltration of the left by liberalism, social democracy and the
rightist tendencies of "anti-authoritarian" anarchism, the resulting
political confusion has seen a consistent alignment of the left with the
imperial project of the U.S. -- from the attacks on the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia through to attacks on nationalist projects throughout the
global South, from Libya to Syria. Since the last gasp of
anti-imperialism solidarity represented by the massive marches in
opposition to the illegal attack on Iraq in 2003, the peace, anti-war
and anti-imperialist movements have been in relative disarray.
This disarray and ineffectiveness is taking place right at the
historical moment when in order to maintain its global hegemony, the
colonial/capitalist West has decided to revert to what it does best --
spread death and destruction. For those of us who understand our
responsibility situated, as we are, at the center of this monstrosity
called the U.S., we have to strip away the veneer of humanitarianism
that hides the ugly inner logic of domination and we have to "struggle"
-- a term now passé for the hip post-modern nihilist left.
When a people, like the people of Syria, demonstrate their commitment to
the integrity of their own national experience in opposition to the
efforts of the imperialist states that we reside in, the only principled
position we can take is to stand in solidarity with those people, no
matter how we see the internal contradictions of that nation/state. The
people of Syria have said no to foreign intervention. Those of us in the
imperialist West, can we do anything less?
/*Ajamu Baraka* is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political
analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy
Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. His latest publications include
contributions to two recently published books "Imagine: Living in a
Socialist USA" and "Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar
Cabral." He can be reached at info.abaraka at gmail.com
<mailto:info.abaraka at gmail.com> and www.AjamuBaraka.com
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