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The West Put to Test in Syria

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Abolqasem Qasemzadeh

The Syrian crisis has turned into a complex issue for Western governments. One side of the conflict in Syria is obviously the government of Bashar al-Assad, which still enjoys the support of the majority of Syrians. Assad’s is a regime that has arisen from a uni-party system of governance (the Ba’ath party) and does not have an acceptable record in respecting people’s civil liberties as it has ruled over the country through an extrajudicial mechanism of security dominance. Syria is a war-stricken country whose central pivot of “national honour” is resistance against Zionist aggression. Syrians know that a part of their land is still under the occupation of the Zionist regime of Israel and believe that they have sacrificed many martyrs during their fight against Israel over the past years to defend their national and Arab identity.

For Syrians, “Resistance” is not only a political slogan spouted by the government, but their national belief in the face of an enemy who lies adjacent to their country, and has threatened and occupied it. On the other hand, the support of Syria’s people for Bashar al-Assad may be attributed to his political record after the death of his father Hafez al-Assad when Bashar took control of the government. He gradually implemented some reforms with the centrality of socio-political transformation and an emphasis upon the youth so that Syrians came to live with more prosperity as their living conditions improved.

During the past year, Syrians developed positive and negative attitudes towards popular uprisings in the Arab countries. Their positive view of the revolutions emanates from the elimination of dictatorships and the beginning of a new chapter of civil liberties in the Arab societies, but the NATO’s military intervention in Libya, which reduced the country to a “scorched land,” has horrified the people of Syria. This becomes particularly significant if we consider the fact that Syria is not a rich country and its people cannot stand the costs of war and destruction.

The other side of the conflict consists of forces opposing Bashar al-Assad, among whom Syrians do not see acceptable and reliable figures or leaders for the future of Syria. They also regard the opposition guilty of receiving support from the West for their own strategic interests and particularly to the advantage of Israel while Saudi Arabia and Qatar are trying to impose a civil war on Syria by financial and military means. The Turkish government also features highly in the issue, an actor which has had border differences with Syria ever since the era of Hafez al-Assad and even before it and has even moved so far as to threaten Damascus with war. In other words, Syrians have never had good and amiable relations with Turkey. The opposition of Turkish administrations to Syrian “Alawites,” whether inside Turkey itself or in Syria, is another part of their bitter historical relations. It is worth noting that the Syrian people regard the attempts at changing the Damascus regime in a context of war and bloodshed as resulting from the West’s intention to settle accounts with the resistance forces in Syria and Lebanon.

The war and killings on Syria’s borders with Turkey and Lebanon has displaced the residents of these areas while the tactic of extending the conflict into cities and universalizing it has reached a dead end. In these circumstances, Bashar al-Assad is gradually trying to put into practice his motto of reforms as he recently had some articles of the Syrian constitution changed through a referendum, thus bringing to an end the uni-party system of governance and allowing for the formation of other parties. The next stage of reforms consists in the holding of elections for a new parliament, which will be followed by presidential elections in the country.

The West has so far failed to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad inside Syria while it is facing the opposition of many countries, not least China and Russia, on the international political scene to its position on Damascus. Bashar al-Assad is pushing for two plans inside the country. First, he responds to militant attacks against government positions by military retaliation, condemns armed assaults by rebels as acts of terrorism, and will most probably respond to any military intervention by NATO against Syria by missile attacks on Israel. Second, as Assad has promised, he thinks of continuing to implement reforms until the government holds parliamentary elections featuring the involvement of all voices and political parties in Syria and then the presidential polls on the basis of the country’s new constitution.

The Western powers claim that time for enacting reforms in Syria has already come to an end as the British Prime Minister David Cameron as well as US and French presidents have stated that either Bashar al-Assad should stand down himself or we will force him to relinquish power. Needless to say that The West seeks regime change in Syria and pursues plans ranging from destabilizing and spreading insecurity in Syrian cities to causing civil war in Syria in order to topple Bashar al-Assad. The West’s favourite scenario in the melting pot of Syria is to repeat the experience of Libya, that is, to help the armed opposition groups free a Syrian border area and form a transitional government there which will then be recognized as Syria’s national and legitimate ruling authority. It thus helps overthrow the Assad regime by following the model of liberating Libya’s Benghazi which lead to the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. To this end. The Western powers have provided the opponents of Assad with all a great deal of financial and military assistance while proposing resolutions advocating regime change in Syria in the United Nations Security Council, which finally failed as they were opposed and vetoed by Russia and China.

War and military conflict have now been limited to Syria’s border areas near Turkey and Lebanon, resulting in the death, destruction and displacement of Syrians living there. The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad realized that he faces an organized conspiracy whereby the Arab League countries are stabbing him in the back on the one hand and the Western powers are imposing sanctions along with war and murder upon him. Such a war, according to Syria experts, incurs a one-billion-dollar cost for the Syrian government per month, a war through which the governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have pushed Syria, in line with Washington’s policies against the country, towards death and destruction. The Western standoff in Syria prompted the Red Cross and the United Nations to intervene and plead for a ceasefire in order to collect the dead bodies and deliver the emergency aid to the injured.

Recently, two news stories about Syria grabbed the headlines. The first one was about the former UN secretary general’s visit to Syria and his meeting with Bashar al-Assad to negotiate a truce. During the meeting, Assad had apparently insisted that he was averse to agreeing to a ceasefire, but would accept it in order to put an end to the deadly violence if only the opposition agreed to his political plan for implementing reforms and resolving the crisis. The second one concerned the meeting of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Cairo with the Arab League foreign ministers, during which he rejected the calls by Qatar and Saudi Arabia for the overthrow of Assad government and instead pushed for the peaceful settlement of the disputes. Lavrov’s dismissive stance elicited a similar response from the Saudi and Qatari foreign ministers, who dismissed his position.

The shift from insisting upon military intervention to the political resolution of the crisis in Syria has since manifested itself and gained momentum, but it is not yet clear whether these positions will be followed by the adoption of a new moderated resolution in the UN Security Council or another phase marked by the intensification of military conflict and fatal violence in Syria will commence. The West has so far failed in the Syrian test as the plan for the overthrow of Assad government by introducing a civil war has reached a stalemate. The future prospects of Syria are still shrouded in uncertainty and ambiguity in so far as some political analysts predict that Assad’s regime may be changed through a coup d’état or by his assassination.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the Syrian people are those who pay the main price of such a political storm while they cannot envisage a bright future for their country. The escalating pressure of comprehensive sanctions upon Syria and the increasingly tightening encirclement of its government will add to the growing problems of Syrian people. Indeed, trying to preserve and deepen its strategic interests in Syria, the West is portraying the death, destruction and displacement of Syrians as their confrontation with dictatorship to achieve freedom.

Source: Ettelaat Newspaper
http://www.ettelaat.com
Translated By: Iran Review

More By Abolqasem Qasemzadeh:

*Threat and Sanctions: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Threat_and_Sanctions.htm

*Resumption of Negotiations between Iran and P5+1: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Resumption_of_Negotiations_between_Iran_and_P5_1.htm

*Iran and US: The Excuse and the Main Concern: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran_and_US_The_Excuse_and_the_Main_Concern.htm

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