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Proletarian issue 46 (February 2012)
Syria: Assad looks East
The Syrian president has reasserted his government’s anti-imperialist credentials and his people’s determination maintain their dignity and independence.
President Bashar al-Assad’s January speech in Damascus has been much abused but little studied in the West. In it, Assad boldly confirmed the government’s intention to unite the nation behind its planned reforms whilst giving no quarter to the western-backed insurgency, serving notice on the world that Syria has no intention of abandoning the anti-imperialist road, despite the internationally driven campaign of slander and violence that has racked the nation for the past year.

Whilst naturally for Victoria Nuland of the US state department the speech proved that Assad should “step aside”, and French foreign minister Alain Juppé snorted that the speech was a “denial of reality”, for all sane and progressive humanity this slap in the face for colonial arrogance was cheering indeed.

Assad’s confidence reflected the fact that imperialist aggression against Syrian sovereignty, carefully decked out in phony ‘Arab spring’ regalia, has been running into increasing difficulties of late. In October, America barked its shins on the Russian and Chinese Security Council veto, thwarting its attempt to get the UN to declare economic war on Syria with a sanctions resolution.

Then, frustrated at the failure of all its propaganda lies and covert support for terrorism to overthrow the broadly based Ba’athist-led secular coalition that leads the country, imperialism came clean on its support for armed subversion within the country, no longer even bothering to pretend that what is going on is just ‘peaceful democratic protestors versus a brutal dictatorship’.

Sadly for the insurgents though, now that they have stepped out of the shadows, their lack of support within the country, and embarrassing reliance upon support from their country’s enemies, have become ever more evident.

Under these circumstances, the US, Britain and France are scrambling all the harder to lend the pro-imperialist insurgency against Syrian national sovereignty an Arab face. To this end, the feudal relics now dominating the Arab League, such shining examples of democracy and progress as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were egged on to push for the Arab League observer mission to go and nose around Syria in search of pretexts for intervention by the ‘international community’.

In his speech Assad aptly characterised this ‘international community’ as “a group of big colonial countries, which view the whole world as an arena full of slaves who serve their interests”. By kowtowing to these panjandrums, the Arab League will “no longer be a league – bringing people together – or Arab. It will be a mock-Arab body in order to be in line with [the imperialists’] policies and the role they are playing on the Arab arena. Otherwise, how can we explain this unprecedented and unreasonable tact with the zionist enemy in everything it does and this decisiveness and toughness with Syria?”

Of the League he asked: “Has it returned one olive tree uprooted by Israel or prevented the demolition of one Palestinian house in occupied Arab Palestine? Has it been able to prevent the partition of Sudan or prevent the killing of over a million Iraqis or feed a single starved Somali?” As for the penny lectures offered by such people on the subject of democracy, he compared them to “a smoking doctor who advises the patient to quit smoking while putting a cigarette in his mouth”!

Yet when the long-awaited observer mission arrived, even this stunt started to backfire. When the mission visited Homs, it was incautious enough to note that the situation was – “reassuring”! There was no sign of tanks on the street, just the occasional armoured car. Incensed, ‘activists’ claimed that the monitors were mistaken, the tanks must have been pulled out when they saw them coming, and in any case the mission’s leader was from Sudan and could not be trusted. In short, the monkey was not dancing hard enough to the organ grinder’s tune.

Since then, no effort has been spared to furnish the mission with photo opportunities to illustrate the supposed brutality of the state, orchestrating provocative demonstrations, putting words in monitors’ mouths, and not even stopping at such gruesome stunts as reportedly hoisting a young girl’s lifeless body across the bonnet of an observer’s car as supposed proof of government atrocities. Yet for all that, as Assad puts it, “the tears shed by the dealers of freedom and democracy for our own victims can no longer conceal the role they played in the bloodshed that they tried to use for their own purposes”.

Further pressure upon the mission to cleave more closely to the intended propaganda line came with the maximum media coverage given to the decision by one of the monitors, Anwar Malek, to quit his post. He told the Qatar-based Al Jazeera that the “mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled”, adding that the “regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime”. Of course, Al Jazeera knows all about fabrication, having itself built and televised an elaborate replica of Tripoli’s Green Square in Doha as part of the psy-ops wing of the Libyan counter-revolution.

Exactly who is fooling whom came sharply and tragically into focus with the death in Homs of the French journalist Gilles Jacquier. His cameraman explained that Jacquier had been interviewing merchants out on the street when a spontaneous pro-government demo took off. It was whilst they were filming this that the rockets were fired, killing the journalist and at least seven others.

The Syrian information ministry officials pointed out that the murder was just the latest extension of the terror chain to which Syria is exposed, adding that it comes in the context of the terrorists’ bid to distort the real image of what is happening in Syria.

Meanwhile, when the Arab League mission’s report was presented on 22 January, it broadly concluded that the League’s plan was being implemented by Syria. Whilst dutifully repeating the West’s assertions about government violence, the report was honest enough to point out the violence of the ‘opposition’. The report also noted that Damascus had granted authorisation to approximately 147 media outlets to operate in Syria, with 112 media outlets being physically present in Syria, and 90 media outlets sending reporters. The mission’s leader, General Mohammed al-Dabi, recommended that the mission be extended to allow it to complete its duties.

Horrified at the sight of the whole propaganda exercise backfiring so badly, Saudi Arabia at once responded to al-Dabi’s measured report by denouncing the mission’s leadership and pulling its monitors out of the team, with Bahrain and Kuwait rapidly following suit. By sabotaging the very diplomatic mission that they themselves had earlier demanded, this gaggle of princelings stand exposed before the whole world as puppets of imperialism. They themselves are rotten ripe for that same overthrow which they so ardently wish upon the Syrian government.

Putting all this in context, Assad spelled out in his speech the strategic goals that imperialism is pursuing right across the Middle East and went on to explain why those goals will never be achieved. “What is taking place in Syria is part of what has been planned for the region for tens of years, as the dream of partition is still haunting the grandchildren of Sykes–Picot. But today their dream turns into a nightmare, and if some believe that the time of conflict over Syria is back, then they are mistaken ...

“And one thing we will never allow them to achieve is defeating Syria as it means defeating steadfastness and resistance and it also means the fall of the whole region to the hands of great powers. Defeat is not necessarily military and it might come true if they succeed in making us withdraw to internal conflicts and forget about our bigger issues – on top of which is the Palestinian issue.

“The ultimate goal which they aspire to achieve eventually is a Syria that is busy with internal marginal conflicts ... But they did not succeed in destroying our identity or in shaking our belief that the resistance is at the core of this identity, which shall remain firm as it has always been over history.”

Towards the conclusion of his speech, Assad offered this valuable insight into the shifting geopolitics within which the world struggle against imperialism is playing out:

“For us, the West is important and we cannot deny this truth. But the West today is not like the West a decade ago. The world is changing and there are emerging powers. There are alternatives. It is important, but it is not the oxygen that we breathe. If the West closes its doors, we can still breathe. It is not the life buoy without which we drown. We can swim on our own and along with our friends and brothers, and there are plenty of them.

“That is why we decided in 2005 to move eastwards. At that time, we knew that the West will never change. The West is still colonial in one way or another. It is changing from an old coloniser to a modern coloniser and from a modern coloniser during the Sykes-Picot agreement to a contemporary coloniser. It has different forms and shapes but it will never change, which means that we have to turn to the East.”

Victory to Syria and Assad!
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