Many journalists, diplomats, and experts are apologists for the Assad regime. They do so from the comfort of their lives in a democracy and none has had to endure what the Syrian people endure everyday through stifling policies of the Assad tyrannical regime.
I do not buy the argument that state interests supersede the interests of millions of people in other countries. If a mature and strong democracy cannot find ways to support democracy in other nations, then it is advocating discriminatory elitist practices with genetic supremacist undertones following in the path of the greatest of such experiments: Great England in India. Either we all believe in freedom, human rights, and democracy for all mankind or we don’t.
Dr. Moshe Maoz, a renowned professor of Middle Easter studies, whose recent article in the Jerusalem Post “Analysis: Assad’s new regional strategy creates fresh options” is such an apologist. He supports Assad, and indirectly his tyranny, from the sideline of his life in democratic Israel. However we support his notion that Israel should relinquish the Golan back to Syria, we object that such an exchange takes place while Assad is in power and certainly not to a Syria whose politicians are not accountable to their people.
As recent as few days ago, the French Ambassador in Damascus, Eric Chevalier, said that isolating Syria is impossible and claimed that France and Syria rely on values shared by both peoples. I have to agree that we do share many values (Many Syrians are as secular as the French are) but the most important ones dealing with democracy, freedom, and human rights, yet again, the Syrian regime is hailed at the expense of its people from the comfort of the Ambassador’s great democratic France.
Joshua Landis, who teaches at Oklahoma U, lives in a great democratic nation but hails the Assad family from the comforts of his home in Oklahoma. While he had to choose between Obama and McCain in the last election, Syrians were forced to choose Assad. Landis is clueless about the poverty and tyranny Syrians live under. A journalist once asked him about the illegal imprisonment of Riad Seif, an ex-MP and now a prominent Syrian dissident dying in jail, his answer was “Who cares about these people?“. How different are these remarks from the echoes of people who did not care about Mandela either?
But, it is not always people who support tyranny living in abundance of freedom. Institutionalized practices by some largely followed organizations do us more harm than any one person can.
As an example, the New York Times travel section recently placed Damascus as its 7th destination to travel to in 2010 (out of 31). For those who read “The Trust”, a book about the ideology behind the New York Times, whose under-reporting of the Holocaust in WWII was intentional, they will understand why NYT mirrors its under-reporting, even framing, of tyrannical regimes in elitist context aimed at denial and irrelevance of other peoples’ rights (Truly, NYT needs another A.M. Rosenthal at the helm).
ICG or International Crisis Group is another such organization. Led by elitist intellectuals and descendants of Britain’s experimenters in India, ICG has published several reports on Syria in defense of the Assad regime. From the comforts of their democratic nation: Britain. One such report written a year ago, aimed at pushing the Obama administration to engage with Syria by using France as a bait. How British is that?
But as many who live in democracies hail tyranny, many, as well, have given their lives for other peoples to enjoy the fruits of accountability in their societies.
Gibran Tueini is such a man. Killed by the Assad regime for supporting real democratic reforms in Syria, Gibran lives in the minds of many as one of the most heroic people in this century. Gibran was destined to become Lebanon’s president in the near future and that is why Assad killed him.
For a preview, I will quote from one of his most memorable speeches when he spoke to 1,500,000 Lebanese gathered on March 14, 2005 in support of Lebanese independence and sovereignty. Translated from Arabic, Tueini said: “
We swear by the Great G*d
Muslims and Christians
pledge to stay united
forever and for eternity
defending Lebanon the great
may you and Lebanon live long
On the day he was killed at the age of 48, shy two weeks from celebrating Christmas 2005, RPS published this brief story:
Washington DC, December 12, 2005/RPS/ — Lebanon awoke this morning to another bomb and another killing of one of its sons. Gibran Tueini, the maverick manager of the an-Nahar newspaper and a member of parliament, was killed in the Mukles area of Beirut when a Renault car exploded next to his Range Rover killing him and four others. There were tens of injuries.
Tueini was a courageous man who advocated the rule of law and a vibrant democracy in his native country Lebanon. He was a strong critic of the regime of Assad and of Syrian policies in the region advocated by people in Syria who are prone to violence.
His killing came at the heels of an interview that Baschar al-Assad gave to a Russian television yesterday in which he threatened the whole Middle East. Like Saddam, Baschar is falling into a trap of his own making.
Tueini’s popularity in Lebanon is bound to make certain issues resurface such as the resignation of Emile Lahoud, Lebanon’s president whose complete and utter allegiance is to the Syrian regime and the issue of an international tribunal to hold those suspected of killing Hariri accountable.
RPS condemns his killing and calls on the international community to protect Lebanon from the wrath of diminutive men whose acts mirror some we have seen in Germany in the early thirties.
Also, organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are vigilant when it comes to Syrian human rights abuses. Without their reporting, most of these abuses would go unnoticed.
Many other Americans, Lebanese, Israelis, Turks, Iraqis, Iranians, Egyptians, Saudis, Bahrainis, and Europeans have given so much to the cause of freedom and human rights in their respective nations or that of others that it is a question of time before this battle is won in the Middle East, once and for all.