[News] Syrian's Say No to Intervention

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 4 12:00:52 EDT 2014


June 04, 2014
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/04/the-syrian-elections/


*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 
support?

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," 
<http://bigstory.ap.org/article/uk-says-moderate-syrian-opposition-must-survive> 
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 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/us/politics/transcript-of-president-obamas-commencement-address-at-west-point.html?_r=2> 
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 
imperialism: *

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 
<http://www.ajamubaraka.com/human-rights-and-humanitarian-imperialism-in-syria-a-view-from-an-african-american-human-rights-defender/> 
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 
<http://www.AjamuBaraka.com>/

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