[By Lara Keller Last Updated 6th June 2017]
It is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government.
The statement “it is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government” is the starting point for any discussion on the Syrian Revolution. Apologists for the Assad regime regularly claim that Syria has always had free elections and the dictator Bashar Assad is wildly popular. This claim contradicts all the evidence of human right abuses, the size and brutality of the security brigades, censorship of the media, extent of inequality and the amount of wealth held in offshore tax havens. All this going back to 1970 and the beginning of the current regime with Hafez Assad’s illegal military coup against the Baarthist regime that had ceased power in 1963.
The regime and it’s apologists also claim the Syrian Revolution is not valid because it is composed of terrorist extremists. This is not true, and anyway the central issue is what the majority of the Syrian people want, rather than the composition of the armed opposition to regime. According to academics like Charles Lister, who closely studies these armed groups, a minority of the armed opposition are extremists. Groups that compile statistics on human rights violations, state that the regime, its foreign militias and Russian military are responsible for around 90% of violations, including civilian deaths.
The next claim is that the Syrian Revolution should be allowed to fail, because the opposition faces both Iran and Russia (backed financially by China). The Assad regime therefore cannot be defeated. Any attempt to escalate this “proxy war” by the West, by giving more support to the opposition would lead to an unlimited war.
This amounts to appeasing Assad, Iran, Russia and China over Syria. After five years of brutal struggle against incredible odds this betrayal of the Syrian Revolution is utterly repulsive, but so also is the continuation of the war.
The “proxy war” claim ignores an essential reality. The elites in the West have no interest in empowering ordinary people anywhere, especially in the Middle East. The opponents of the Syrian Revolution are the elites in Syria (Assad Clique), Iran (clerical dictatorship), Russia (Putin dictatorship), China(dictatorship), the Western elites (in US,Europe….) and the Sunni Dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, Egyptian Military Elite….). Western governments have had to pretend to support the Arab Democratic Uprising of 2011 onward, because their voters expect support for the concept of democracy in public.
In this realistic context the claim of “proxy war” needs to be reexamined. This “global elite” is not only fighting to prop up repressive government in Syria. It is also attempting to extend authoritarian government into the West. This year Trump and the UK’s Brexit. Next year potential Marine Le-Pen presidency in France, and a Geert Wilders government in Holland. All these victories for the far-right supported by the Putin Russian regime. The Western economies also sit on an ever growing debt crisis. Political upheavals and economic crises could easily form a self perpetuating machine driving the West towards authoritarianism, while authoritarian regimes support each other in securing these disasters.
So a war between the “global elite” and ordinary people is already being fought, with the ongoing Arab Democratic Uprising and the Syrian Revolution a part of it.
If Assad and Putin are appeased in Syria, then this will only lead to greater gambles by elites and more desperate extremism among ordinary people, resulting in more and deeper conflicts. The Syrian Revolution must succeed, as quickly as possible. This will happen by providing proper military and humanitarian support to the Syrian Opposition and by direct consequences on the Assad regime for war crimes that it or its allies commit. This support will strengthen the Syrian Opposition, by insisting it only goes to those who demonstrate a clear commitment to an inclusive representative government in the new Syria.
It is time to judge anyone in the West who claims to be “progressive”, or any leader who claims to have “democratic values”, by whether they support the Syrian Revolution.