Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Watching the slaughter in Syria

The horrors across the border do not arouse disgust or revulsion here. The opposite is true; there are those who continue to organize gatherings in support of the butcher of Damascus.
Salman Masalha ||
Watching the slaughter in Syria

A sign carried by residents of a town in northern Syria during a demonstration against the Assad regime read: “The continued killing of thousands of Syrian citizens provokes a feeling of disgust.” Two years have passed since the uprising broke out in Syria. Tens of thousands are dead, hundreds of thousands have been injured and over a million refugees are the cost of this brutal war conducted by the regime against its own people who are demanding freedom. In an attempt to defeat the uprising, Assad has not hesitated to use the air force and launch Scud missiles against Syrian cities.

The Syrians do not have good luck − their country is not rich with oil. The West, which rushed to send its planes to bring down Muammar Gadhafi, is looking on at the horrors occurring in Syria without lifting a finger. The entity called the “Arab world” is also doing nothing. This is a world more like a pile of dead bodies, each one stuck in the mud and filth they themselves created.

Two years have passed and the country continues to be torn apart. Syria, like Iraq, will never return to being the country it was. Two years of killing and destruction are not wiped away with a wave of the hand and declarations, or with a reconciliation commission. All the more so when we are talking about a region divided religiously and ethnically, and with a culture lacking the principle of self-criticism.

It seems that in Syria the sun rises, trees bloom and the butcher Assad continues to murder without fear that someone will stop him. Already at the beginning of the Syrian uprising, Assad claimed that the situation in the country was different than in the rest of the Arab world, and that Syria is not Egypt or Tunisia. Assad knew what he was talking about since his regime, as opposed to those of Egypt and Tunisia, rests on the tribal loyalty of his security forces and nothing else. The Ba’ath Party, which held on to power for decades, carried the banner of Arab nationalism at the beginning of its path. But very quickly this same banner, after a coup carried out by Assad senior, turned into camouflage intended to hide the tribal-ethnic nature of the regime.

The Syrian uprising did not break out for religious or ethnic reasons, and you can find evidence for that in the signs carried by those rebelling against Assad. The depth of the alienation between the people and the regime can be seen in the title the protesting residents added to the name of their town, Kafr Nabl in northern Syria: “Occupied.” They also turned their anger against the opposition, the Arabs and the rest of the world: “Regime and opposition out, Arab and Muslim nations out, Security Council out, world out, everything out!” they wrote on a banner in October 2011.

And while everyone was waiting for the uprising to reach the city of Aleppo − it took its time − people in Kafr Nabl found a special way to mock Aleppo residents with a different sign: “Aleppo will not stand straight even if it takes Viagra.” They went so far as to come out with signs calling for the regime to send tanks to their town so as to ease the blockade on Homs. And for all those who tried to attach an ethnic character to the uprising, they answered with a sign: “I am Druze and Alawi, Sunni and Kurd, Ismaili and Christian, Jew and Assyrian ... and this is a revolution for all Syrians.”

For whatever reason, these voices of a different Syria have not received their proper place in our media. The horrors across the border do not arouse disgust or revulsion here. The opposite is true; there are those who continue to organize gatherings in support of the butcher of Damascus. Such a demonstration was held at the beginning of the month in the Israel Communist Party clubhouse in Kafr Yasif. The secretary general of the party, Mohammed Nafa, and other party members spoke, as the communists traditionally do, on the imperialist plots. Issam Mahoul, a former Communist Knesset member, announced: “The steadfast three-legged base in Syria that includes the people, army and leadership is the guarantee for the failure of the American plan intended to create a Middle East in its image.”

It seems that revulsion is not a strong enough feeling to express the depth of the disgust for Assad’s supporters walking among us.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 13.3.2013

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