I unfriended another Facebook friend this week. It may seem to be a trivial matter, but for me, it is not. The reason behind my action was Syria. As in Egypt, Syria has instigated many social media breakups with people whom, until then, were regarded with a degree of respect and admiration.
But this is not a social media affair. The problems lie at the core of the Syrian conflict, with all of its manifestations, be they political, sectarian, ideological, cultural, and intellectual. While on the left (not the establishment left of course) Palestine has brought many likeminded people together, Egypt has fragmented that unity, and Syria has crushed and pulverized it to bits.
Those who cried over the victims of Israeli wars on Gaza, did not seem very concerned about Palestinians starving to death in the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. Some squarely blamed the Syrian government for the siege that killed hundreds, while others blamed the rebels. Some writers even went further, blaming the residents of the camp. Somehow, the refugees were implicated in their own misery and needed to be collectively punished for showing sympathy to the Syrian opposition.
The only line of logic that exists in the Yarmouk narrative, as in the Syrian story as a whole, is that there is no logic. It has turned out that solidarity with Palestinians has limits. If forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad do the shooting – and the shelling and the starving – then the plight of the refugees is open for discussion.
It also has turned out that some of those who pose as human rights activists are rarely compelled by ethical priorities, but rather dogmatic ideology that is so rigid it has no space for a sensible argument based on a serious investigation of facts.
Some self-proclaimed ‘progressives’ have decided to elevate the status of Bashar al-Assad to that of being the last line of defence against American imperialism. They have done so with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi as well. Their line of reasoning doesn’t stem from a serious understanding of the legacies of both men, but an entirely different set of representations, as in the West’s own attitude towards Libya and Syria. Syria supported Hezbollah and Hamas in their resistance to Israel. True. Leading U.S. neoconservatives have plotted for years to ‘roll back’ Damascus, and to subdue any resistance to Israeli hegemony. Also true. But between delineating these truths and others, in all that the Syrian government has done - the horrendous war crimes, the perpetual sieges, the unhindered violations of human rights - everything is somehow forgiven. They are not to be discussed, or even acknowledged. In fact, for some, they never happened.
The other side is just as culpable. Crimes committed by opposition forces and al-Qaeda affiliated groups are heinous and barbaric. A simple news search produces volumes of crimes, massacres of entire villages, and whole families or individuals who belonged to the wrong sect, or religion.
The intellectual crowd that opposes Assad is also unmoved by all of this. They often pin the blame on Assad or the thugs (shabiha) for any reported crime anywhere in Syria. And when news emerges that the victims were loyalists to Assad, they find ways to twist the story in order to place the blame on Assad forces anyway. But when more is revealed to prove the responsibility of an opposition-affiliated militia, or a gang, they simply shift gears to another massacre elsewhere, which is real or fabricated.
No good guys
Bashar is not a deity. He is no Che Guevara either. The crimes his forces committed, would be enough to send thousands of his backers to a never ending imprisonment.Ramzy Baroud