The Price For Re-Birth - Syria

By Bevin Kurian


There was a time when state of normalcy was maintained by believing in the strength of the dollar, the security of authoritarian governments in Middle East, and the credibility of banks and corporations. We are currently in a world of new normals. It is now defined by the rising un-employment rates, the impending loom of another recession, the domino-effect created by the Arab Spring, protests, and ‘occupation’ of financial institutions.

Despite the alarming set of new standards and trends, we’ve seen a steady stream of progress trickling in the international arena over the past few weeks. Tunisia, the epicenter of the Arab Spring, held the country’s first democratic elections. International observers have hailed the proceedings as remarkably free and fair. The referendum witnessed an eighty percent turn-out and was won by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda (once banned, and its leaders exiled under former President Ben Ali’s 23-year rule). Although skeptics are raising concerns regarding the situation of an Islamist party taking over State of Affairs in Tunisia, Ennahda is promising an open and transparent Government with no room for a strict Islamic rule of law, and vehemently re-assures that their governance will be based on secular and democratic principles and ideals. Only time will tell if Ennahda will hold true to its promises. The United States and her allies must give Tunisia its breathing space and wait to see if the Arab Spring has blossomed for the better or for worse.

Democracy might not be the option for every country. The mere existence of parliaments and holding of elections do not categorize a State as being democratic. The principles of Democracy can be rooted in many forms and types of Government. It is the canon of belief in equal rights and a just due process for all that needs to be preserved and fought for. The victims of the Arab Spring, namely Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, were once considered stable, ‘democratic’, and a friend of the West but let’s not forget the countless issues of human rights violations, and other gross mid-conducts that were swept under the rug just to keep the peace, and the dependability. Tunisia has taken her first step towards a brighter future. Instead of being vexed or disquieted about the outcome of the elections, there needs to be a galvanization from the international community to come to Tunisia’s aid and support on this journey.

If searching for an example of how Newton’s Third Law can be applied in the international political scene, look no further than Syria. For each stride of advancement made in the Arab World in terms of Tunisia and Libya’s newfound freedom, Syria has completely lost its bearings and the crisis has plummeted to catastrophic levels.  It is an accepted dogma that as long as the army of a country stands by its government, the people’s revolution will never achieve its desired causatum. If NATO did not intervene in Libya, the country would have engulfed in a barbarous civil war; Muammar Gaddafi would have ruthlessly crushed the rebellion, and still be in power today. There’s only so much the people of Syria can do in a peaceful manner to demonstrate their sentiments against the current totalitarian rule. With over 3000 Syrian protestors brutally massacred, there seems to be no signs of allayment or mitigation.

So far the besieged civilians have received no actual help besides the usual, routine, scripted words of condemnation from the media, and other governing bodies. Russia and China have helped themselves to act as blockades to any attempts by the United Nations to pass resolutions to condemn the crackdowns. Recently, the impeding pair succeeded to veto a European formulated resolution in the Security Council despite the draft making no calls for imposing sanctions. Citing the necessity of ‘peaceful settlement of the crisis’ and the complete opposition of a ‘philosophy of confrontation’, Russia is actively using all diplomatic means available to ensure the survival of her last remaining ally, besides Iran, in the Middle East. Hiding behind the façade of ‘non-aggression’, China will also prove to be a stumbling block to any successful future decisions by the UN on Syria.

Besides the enforcement of the available military personnel, when uprisings began in Egypt and Libya, the respective governments hired local thugs mafia-typed forces to launch attacks on disgruntled citizens as scare tactics. Assad has chosen a similar route as well by unleashing ‘Shabiha’ into the streets. Currently amended into a state sponsored militia comprising of armed gangs, Shabiha were previously known to be involved in numerous illegal activities ranging from armed robbery, drug smuggling, racketeering, and torture. The elusive mob are now pursuing a campaign of intimidation by including executions, drive-by shootings on protestors, beatings, and rape. Like Assad and members of his government, Shabiha belongs to the Alawite tribe. The organization is vigorously elevating the religious tensions by checking resident ID cards of citizens to find Sunnis. Once found, local witnesses state they are savagely beaten, and killed. In response, protestors have begun arming themselves for protection and sectarian violence has escalated to terrifying levels, pushing the ‘Republic’ to the verge of civil war.

With NATO’s military operations completed in Libya, Syrian demonstrators are now pleading for a no-fly zone over Syria. This is a prerogative NATO can exercise without UN’s approval. Despite witnessing the fall of despotic rulers around him; for example, the hanging of Saddam Hussein, the trial of Hosni Mubarak, the exile of Ben Ali, the murder of Muammar Gaddafi; Assad is still living in a state of denial believing his authority is anything but precarious. In fact, he has raised the rhetoric by warning of an ‘earthquake’ if the West intervened and that any involvement would turn the country into tens of ‘Afghanistans’. It is nauseous to sit back and observe a leader promising a grave-yard in his own country, dug by his fellow countrymen. The failure of the United Nations to make this concern paramount is utterly embarrassing and the intentions of Russia and China are Mephistophelian.

There’s an old Syrian adage “Birth is the messenger of death”. For now, until someone heeds their pleas, death seems to be the price for re-birth.

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